Vaal University of Technology (Gauteng) v Beat Masters (Mpumalanga) – Women’s Final
Making their debut in the Champions Cup, Beat Masters of Mpumalanga who were not seen as a threat to the tournament’s top contenders surprised those who labelled them as the ‘’whipping girls’’ of the prestigious national event when they emerged in the number one position in their group ahead of UKZN, the defending champions.
Although the Mpumalanga ladies lost the first set by a 18-25 margin in their semi- final encounter against the more experienced TUKS outfit from Pretoria they bounced back to win the match in a tense 5 set thriller by 3 sets to 2 (18-25; 25-15;25-20; 23-25; 15-8).
VUT women’s team were made to fight all the way in their first two sets to stay in the match when they were extended to the limits by defending champions UKZN. VUT won the match in straight sets, 25-23; 26-24; 25-14 to square up against newcomers Beat Masters in the final.
Early in the opening set of the women’s final, VUT’s Tatiana Simopoulos the tournament’s Best Attacker and MVP, made her intentions quite clear that Beat Masters blockers will have to contend with her as she unleashed attack after attack to post valuable points on the score board. VUT setter, Buhle Khuzwao (Best Setter) kept Tatiana and middle attacker, Makhosazan Dlamini skilfully serviced with tailor made sets to wrap up the first with a 25-19 win.
In the second set Beat Masters struck back taking the fight to VUT who remained steadfast in defence at the net marshalled by Makhosazan Dlamini (Best Blocker). When VUT’s prolific attacker Tatiana found that her ‘bullet’ cross -court powerful attacks were not yielding any points as Beat Masters cover players readily picked them up, much to her frustration she responded immediately by mixing power with
deft touches over the blockers out stretched hands to keep the score board ticking.
While Beat Masters’ Sarah Mnguni (Best Server) serves troubled VUT from time to time, they were not enough to cause an upset victory against VUT, a regular participant in VSA’s Champions Cup and in Zone VI Club Championship. Stepping up a few gears, VUT closed proceedings in the second and third sets with a 25-22 and 2515 score line to march to the podium as the 2023 Champions Cup gold medallists and walk away with the winner’ cheque.
LIONS (KZN) v VAAL UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY ( Gauteng) – Men’s Final
The volleyball pundits were correct in their prediction that tournament favourites, Lions of KZN will lock horns with Gauteng’s VUT for the gold medal position. Given the intensity of the men’s final clash the crowd waited with bated breath for the on-court battle to begin. The teams did not disappoint as they thrilled and entertained the fans with powerful attacking and defensive strategies that brought loud cheers from the fans.
Lions’ skipper and mercurial playmaker, Alvin Pather knew that whenever the situation demanded, he turned to Tafadzwa Keni (Best Attacker and MVP), Jamine Naidoo and Terence Chapidzinga to power their way past their opponents’ blockers to keep Lions in the lead. Lions posted a morale boosting 25-18 win to take a one set to love lead.
In the 2 nd set things became decidedly difficult for Lions as VUT setter, Babongile Tshabalala (Best Setter) turned on the ‘heat’ against his opponents by servicing attackers Lehlohonolo Pheko, Baholo Makhomo and Kemoloile Otsweleng to keep VUT in the hunt for victory. The 2 nd set was an absolute delight for the spectators as the score board was kept ticking evenly until it reached 25-25. Through sheer
determination the VUT attack force put the set out of the reach of Lions by posting a breath taking 27-25 win to level matters (1-1).
Unable to contain the rejuvenated Lions attack force led by Tafadzwa Keni ,Terence Chapidzinga and the quick hitting Jamine Naidoo, VUT slid to 25-20; 25-17 loss to reach the podium as the tournament’s silver medallists. Tournament favourites, Lions proudly walked on to the presentation arena to receive their gold medals and winners’ cheque wearing a T shirt, ‘’CHAMPIONS 23.’’ Such was their confidence in winning VSA’s prestigious Champions Cup, a ‘’gateway’’ event to the African ZoneVI club Championship.
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