When the Eastern Cape withdrew as the host of the 2017 Champions Cup, Volleyball South Africa’s premier national inter club championship for men and women, Kwa Zulu Natal seized the opportunity to afford their teams “home turf” advantage for the national showpiece. Representing KZN at this year’s event scheduled to be hosted at the University of Kwa Zulu Natal’s Westville Campus Sports Centre from 26 to 30 April are Liberte, Durban University of Technology (DUT), UKZN, Maidstone, Titans, KSST, Falcons, PMBVC and Kuvuki (men) and UKZN and PMBVC (women).

As the hosts of the 2016 Champions Cup KZN’s leading men’s team from Tongaat, Liberte defeated Quantum of Johannesburg in a breath taking five set final (21-25; 25-15; 25-23; 24-26; 15-11) at the University of Kwa Zulu Natal. This was the second time a team from KZN lifted the coveted Champions Cup silverware since its inception in 2000 when Liberte ascended the podium as the tournament’s inaugural gold medallists.

While there’s every indication that Liberte will be among the medallists their gold medal position is under serious threat from the Western Cape outfits, the University of Western Cape (UWC) and the youthful   All Star Saints. According to UWC head coach, Loet Groenewald his charges have been hard at training to seek revenge against Liberte for their five set (17-25; 26-24; 25-19; 20-25; 15-12) quarter final defeat at last year’s event in Durban.

“We have beefed up  our defence at the net and worked on quick hitting strategies to pulverise our opponents on the way to the podium as this year’s winners,”said Groenewald.

The slick Vaal University of Technology’s (VUT) men’s team coached by Teboho Mofokeng a former SA Men’s team assistant coach have made their intentions quite clear that its “their time” to walk away with the Champions Cup title for the first.

” I will be counting on SA under 23 national team setter, Khutso Mamabolo to turn on the  magic with his trade mark sublime setting that will fire up VUT’s attack force led by the hard hitting left handed Mthokozisi Mndingi while our new signing from Botswana, Nkhwinya Nelson will take care of matters at the net. The tall middle blocker is a regular in the Botswana national team.  Unfazed by the inter provincial rivalry, the 2016 bronze medallists DUT led by their classy playmaker, Sholen Govender will be a team to be reckoned with as they have the experience , quality and depth on the bench to win gold at this level of competition.

This year’s women’s competition will once again be a two team contest between the star studded University of Western Cape (UWC) and the Vaal University of Technology (VUT). UWC are confident that they will triumph over their Gauteng counterpart whom they defeated in straight sets (3-0) in last year’s final.

The competitions top two teams in the men’s and women’s categories will book their place in the African Continental Inter Club Championship scheduled for later in the year.

By Donovan Nair

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