Lionhearts East beat Polonia IMKA 23:21 21:17 21:18
Intense challenge for second place
Had IMKA won, both sides’ record would show two losses. They came very close but Lionhearts prevailed and maintain their drive for the top honours.
Initially, it didn’t look like that at all. The visitors started strongly and raced to a substantial lead. In front 18:12, they looked home and dry but IMKA raised their game and roared back to tie the score at 20:all after East had taken a time out at 20:18. The score moved to 21:all and a surprise looked on the cards but, Lionhears having won side out, Amelie Kleiner rotated to serve and produced a beauty.
IMKA enjoyed a tiny lead for almost all the second set but were eventually caught at 17:all having been 15:17 in front. Encouraged, Gloria Francalanci served out the set. Lionhearts lost the opening rally of the third set but, having gone 2:1 in front, were never again behind although they never enjoyed a lead of more than three points: at 13:10 and again when they converted match point. It was a great game.
Starting Six: Gloria Francalanci, Amelie Kleiner, Elizabeth Laundy, Margherita Neri, Beatrice Pesenti, Angeliki Pisiritzi (captain),
Libero: Paola Bersi, Priscila da Silva.
Other players: Denisa Pastare, Yuchin Lai, Cristina Ticchi.
Coach: Jalal El Achkar.
Starting Six: Oakki Jones, Angeliki Kollia, Jays Lagrimas, Tereza Mateju, Marianna Smart (captain), Defne Teoman.
Libero: Irma Kurti, Klaudia Peraj.
Other players: Julia Dabrowska, Krstina Janjic, Cecilia Manduca, Julia Tokarenko.
Coach: V Potchin
Referee: Herman Prada.
Mulberry Academy, Shoreditch, 2nd February
Contributor, Douglas Barr-Hamilton