It was a close battle in the Varsity Beach Volleyball final when UWC took on Tuks, but the hosts’ experience showed as they beat Tuks 33-29 to retain the title.
Semi-final: UWC vs UL
There wasn’t to be another hiccup in UWC’s performance following their shaky encounter with UL, as they cruised into the Varsity Beach Volleyball final, defeating UL 58-21.
UWC soared into a 9-0 lead against UL, who almost caused an upset against them earlier in the day. Bejancka Della and Basetsane Malubane started for UWC and piled the pressure on UL’s Thandeka Mathebula and Caroline Malahlela.
UL felt the need to make a change to settle things on the court by making a substitute, bringing on Thembeka Madlopha for Caroline Malahlela. But UWC continued their dominance and went up 12-0 after the sub.
Excellent serving by UWC’s Della extended their lead to 19-2. Despite the lead, Della and Malubane scrambled brilliantly, not giving anything away and leading 24-6 with two inutes to go before half time.
At the break, UWC led 31-9.
With the second half underway, UWC brought on super sub Prudence Layters for Malubane. UL managed to reach double figures as UWC flew past the 50 mark – the final score 58-21, as UWC progressed to the final.
Semi-final: Tuks vs UCT
UCT were agonisingly close to causing a semi-final upset against a dominant Tuks three.
Tuks trailed in the opening exchanges, before Margrit Springer and Thumo Neluvhalani pulled it back to 7-7 after four minutes.
Tuks’ regular starting pair looked unusually flustered as UCT’s Michelle Barboure and Hannah Fox made them move around the court more than they’ve had to do in the 2016 tournament.
It remained a tight affair at 11-11 with three and a half minutes to go. UCT soon led and Tuks decided to take their time out with three minutes to go, the scores at 14-11. The UCT pair kept their foot on the throat of Tuks, entering half time 21-14 up.
Whatever the Tuks management said to their players worked. Tuks walked out onto the court a changed team. Jaime-Lee Wentzel was on for Neluvhalani and it was a telling substitute.
A brilliant save and lob by Wentzel pulled it back to 21-18, galvanising her team. Before UCT could score a single point, it was tied up at 21-21. This forced UCT to take their time out.
The rest of the match was a dead even contest as the lead changed hands every few points. It was 24-24 with six minutes to play.
The wind was picking up and UCT made the most of it, pulling ahead again, 27-25. But Tuks clawed back ahead, 28-27, with four minutes remaining.
A crucial error was made by Michelle Barboure, mishitting the ball when UCT trailed 31-33, and it cost them dearly. The score ended 35-33 to Tuks, who were through to the final against UWC.
Final: UWC vs Tuks
It was to be a far closer second encounter between UWC and Tuks when they met for a second time in the competition, this time in the Varsity Beach Volleyball final.
A brilliant rally kicked off proceedings as UWC drew first blood against Tuks in the final. UWC had eventually settled on Bejancka Della and Prudence Layters as a starting pair and it was them who started the final.
The scores changed a number of times in the first half, with UWC the first to take a two-point lead, 6-4, after three minutes. The lead switched hands again, but UWC led 16-12 with a minute to play in the first half.
Della was brilliant, smashing winners deep in the court, while Layters executed deft drop shots just over the net.
At half time it was 18-15.
The second half started with a bang. An incredible save by UWC’s star, Della, and they led 20-15 after two minutes. Tuks were fighting to stay in it and trailed by just three points, 22-19, with seven minutes to play.
Time out was called by UWC at 23-22 with just under six minutes remaining.
When teams were back on the court, Tuks made costly errors, and when the two Tuks ladies left a UWC serve, which landed in, they were 26-23 down with time running out. Jaime-Lee Wentzel came on for Tuks in place of Neluvhalani with four and a half minutes remaining.
UWC extended their lead to 29-24 and a point later Tuks claimed time out with just two and a half minutes left and scores at 30-24.
Basetsane Malubane came on for Prudence Layters with two minutes left on the clock. That slowed momentum for the hosts and Tuks pulled it back to 30-27.
But Della’s class pulled UWC over the finish line. UWC won 33-29. The trophy remains in the Western Cape, as the win it for the fourth time in succession.
Steers Most Valuable Player: Prudence Layters (UWC)
Samsung Super Striker: Margrit Springer (Tuks)
FNB Player of the Tournament: Margrit Springer (Tuks)
Legit Best Attacker: Asive Makhathini (VUT)
Semi-final: UWC 58-21 UL
Semi-final: Tuks 35-33 UCT
Third/Fourth Playoff: UL 33-45 UCT
Final: UWC 33-29 Tuks