It was double celebrations for tournament favourites, Gauteng women and men’s senior volleyball teams when they reached the podium as gold medallists in the 2022 National Volleyball League (NVL) finals hosted at the Tempe Military Base Sports Centre in Bloemfontein on Friday, 30 September.
In the women’s final Gauteng triumphed over Mpumalanga, the debutants at this level of competition in straight sets, 25-12; 25-17; 25-13. The slow- paced opening encounter came alive when Nelia Thembe, skipper Makhosazana Dlamini and Tatiana Simopoulos combined well to blast their way past
the debutant blockers to register a commanding 25-12 first set win. In the 2nd set Ellen Maloisane pitched in with a few solid attacks that rebounded off the Mpumalanga blockers’ outstretched hands and zoomed out of bounds. Nelia Thembe and Tatiana Simopoulos had a field day posting valuable points through clinical finishing from both the power and utility positions on the court. The duo went
on to clinch the 2 nd set by a 25-17 margin.
With no prospect of losing the final coach G.P.Fourie used the 3rd set to ring the changes to give as many of his players the opportunity to get game time. Fourie’s young charges won the 3 rd set by a 25-13 margin to march to the podium as the tournament’s gold medallists.
The men’s final between Gauteng and the Western Cape was a real humdinger. Gauteng’s star performers Danilo von Ludwiger and Baholo Mokhomo latched onto to playmaker Khutso Mamabolo well placed sets to take a 25-20 first set win. While the Western Cape Cranes’ Clinton Stemmet was in fiery form scoring points when ever he was serviced by his setter, it was Danilo von Ludwiger and Baholo Mokhomo who ran riot with the Cranes’ defence at the net to register a 25-142 nd set win to what was thought to be an assailable (2-0) lead in a 5 set final.
The fiercely contested crucial 3 rd set deadlocked at 19-19 as both teams chose the route of exchanging an explosive attacking strategies that excited the crowd. They soon showed greater allegiance to the team from the south. With part of the crowd firmly behind the Cape side the score board was kept ticking evenly. At 24-23 in favour of the Cranes it was their skipper Clinton Stemmet who quickly latched onto a
shoot set from Antonio Roussouw and blasted his way to close the set with a nail biting 25-23 victory.
Continuing with their winning ways the Cranes sped to a 17-12 lead which they went on to close proceedings with a 25-19 win to force the final into a deciding 5th set. However, when Gauteng focused on their game plan and took the fight to their opponents, it immediately boosted their chances of victory. Although the score reached 10-5 in favour of Gauteng, Stemmet and his lads soldiered on trying to
salvage the situation. It was evident that the Gauteng lads had a greater reservoir of energy to quicken the pace of the game to force the veteran players in the Cape side to wilt through the onset fatigue.
Gauteng ‘stepped on the gas’ and pushed the score line to 13 -8 which they converted to a hard fought 15-8 score line to pick up the coveted 2022 NVL silverware.
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