Lady luck turned her back on the KZN  teams at the 2017 Champions Cup hosted by Volleyball South Africa (VSA) for the country’s elite men and women’s teams at the University of Kwa Zulu Natal’s Westville Campus Sports Centre over the weekend. None of the host province’s nine (9) men’s teams or its two (2) women’s teams could get into the semi final stage that would have given them a fighting chance  to reach the podium as medallists.

However KZN’s best performers were its men’s teams: Liberte, UKZN and DUT who exited the tournament in the quarter final stage. The Vaal University of Technology (VUT) beat Liberte (3-1) while UKZN and DUT were edged out by Kamplits and Uni Jozi (UJ) by the same margin.

While the local fans were saddened by the early exit of their teams the action packed volleyball in the crucial knock out stages kept the crowd thoroughly entertained. The women’s final between the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) , the 2016 silver medallists and Limpopo’s Kamplits was a five set thriller won by the latter by a (25-17; 25-20; 15-25; 18-25; 15-8) score line.

After having  taken the first two sets (25-17; 25-20) an over confident Limpopo outfit were staring at defeat when the fired up VUT levelled matters (2-2).

When setter of the tournament, Sina Rakumakwe  turned on the magic with her sublime setting it unleashed her attackers Tebogo Sejewe (best attacker) and Thanda  Majaha who combined well to put the match beyond the reach of VUT when they posted a confident 15-8 final set score. It was Kamplits first win in a final at this level of competition.

In the men’s final clash between Kamplits and Uni Jozi (UJ) the latter’s coach Hugan Coopasamy must be credited for plotting the downfall of the high riding team from Limpopo whose attackers,  the tall and lanky Jonas Mothobi and Natahniel Rafapa were  constant thorns in the sided of UJ

After  winning  a hard fought first set by a  25-22 margin  Coopasamy’s charges had only themselves to blame for losing the tightly contested 2nd  set by a 26-24 margin.

UJ’s  vastly experienced playmaker, Jeremy Sunker (the tournament’s best setter) restored confidence in his attackers by playing the quicker set that allowed them to power their way past their opponents’ blockers.  Kamplits twin destroyers, Rafapa and Mothobi were not given much chance of upsetting the Gauteng lads as Keifer Govender (best attacker) and Martin Zulu, who picked up the most valuable player accolade posted a 25-16; 25-23 score line to lift the Champions Cup silverware for the 4th time in the cup’s seventeen year history.

The tournament’s top two teams in both genders will represent South Africa at the African Zone 6 club championship later this year.

By Donovan Nair

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