Richmond Docklands travelled the five hours back from Newcastle on Sunday with no tangible reward from a long weekend of volleyball action. Luis Bello’s side at times again demonstrated the good form that they’ve shown this season and gained set points against the two best teams in the country but unfortunately lacked the consistency required to mount a sustained challenge at this level.
The weekend began with a return to Sheffield, the venue for Docklands’ quarter final cup defeat the previous Saturday. In what turned out to be heated battle, Richmond Docklands began slowly and gifted their hosts a 2-0 lead after starting poorly in both sets.
However, they did manage a late flurry of points in set two and managed to maintain this momentum into the third set. Tough serving by setter Javier Bello, assisted by blocks from Vuk Kosanovic and Joaquin Bello, helped Docklands turn a 9-10 deficit into a 14-10 lead. This sparked Sheffield back into life with captain Iain McKellar leading from the front. His powerful jump serving helped level the set again at 17-17. Both sides slugged it out until Richmond Docklands gained a mini-break at 24-23. A serving error let Sheffield off the hook but they had to save the next two Docklands’ set points, again heavily reliant on McKellar. After three failed attempts, Sheffield took the initiative and showed their clinical power to take the set 29-27 and the match 3-0.
Sixteen hours later, Richmond Docklands were back on court in Newcastle, facing league leaders Team Northumbria. Bello’s men were not overawed and took the game to the home side. The passing unit of Matteo Veggian, Panos Karagiannis and Joaquin Bello tamed the Northumbria serve and Javier Bello was able to run his offence as he wished. The visitors sensed an opportunity and took full advantage to earn two set points at 24-22. Unfortunately, Docklands could not convert their golden chance and with the momentum back with the home side Northumbria bulldozered their way to a 26-24 first set win.
Richmond Docklands never recovered from the disappointment and surrendered the next two sets in just over forty minutes. Coach Bello commented after the match, “We’re disappointed to come away with nothing but I’m proud of the players who made it this weekend and gave their all. We know what is required in this league and we’re more than capable of winning against the top teams. We just need to improve our consistency and to do that we need consistent numbers at training and at matches. I’m still confident we’ll make the play-offs and you never know what can happen then”.
Richmond Docklands don’t have to wait long before they can get revenge over Team Northumbria, with them visiting Kingston Arena on Saturday 10th February. It’s Richmond Docklands’ final home match of the regular season so make sure you’re there to show your support and make some noise. First serve at 17:30.
Black Knight v Sheffield: Vuk Kosanovic
Docklands MVP v Sheffield: Joaquin Bello
Sheffield MVP: Iain McKellar
Black Knight v Northumbria: Matteo Veggian
Docklands MVP v Northumbria: Matteo Veggian
Northumbria MVP: Adam Bradbury