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Rorich’s heroics end in vain

Our volleyballers returned from Cameroon having failed to qualify for the 2010 World Championship in Italy.

Four countries competed in the qualifier, held in Yaounde, the hosts Cameroon, South Africa, Mauritius and Zimbabwe.

Only the winners, Cameroon, went through to the Championships where they will join Tunisia and Egypt as the continent’s representatives.

South Africa finished runner-up in Yaounde, with Mauritius and Zimbabwe third and fourth respectively.

In their first match, against Mauritius, SA won 3-2.  Playmaker and skipper Gershon Rorich was in sublime form and along with Grant Goldschmidt (best attacker); Freedom Chiya and Kershen Govender gave SA a commanding 2-0 lead.

Momentary loss in focus coupled with a series of unforced errors almost cost SA the match. Mauritius struck back to level the scores at 2-2. With the South Africans refusing to yield to the renewed pressure from the Indian Ocean Islanders Rorich’s men raced to a 15-5 final set thrashing.

It was much easier contest against Zimbabwe. South Africa dashed all hopes of their northern neighbours by continuing with their fine form displayed in the deciding fifth set of their encounter against the Mauritians. Zimbabwe capitulated in straight sets (3-0).

In the final match, a fired up SA team silenced the 5,000 strong partisan crowd as they had Cameroon against the ropes from the first whistle in the opening set.

Seasoned campaigner Gershon combined fluently with attackers Patrick Klostermann (middle attacker) and the left-handed maestro Goldschmidt to give their team a commanding lead which had the home side at sixes and sevens.

With the score at 18-14 in SA’s favour, the Cameroonians were on the brink of conceding the set and faced the prospect of losing the match.

But then a ” 30-second madness” ensued on the part of the South Africans which led to them committing a series of blunders.

Pouncing onto the “gift” handed to them, Cameroon wasted no time in turning their fortunes around. Cameroon’s chief destroyer, Jean Pierre Ndaki who plies his trade in the Japanese professional league for Sakai Blazers put the set beyond the reach of the South Africans and the Cameroon closed proceedings with a hard fought (25-21) score line.

With the huge home crowd fully behind the hosts,┬áthe South Africans were made to fight all the away. Refusing to be intimidated Rorich’s men fought toe to toe with their more fancied opponents. But the death knell was sounded for the South Africans when Ndaki became too much of aa handful to contain and SA bowed out of the competition with a (3-0) 25-21 25-22 25-21 loss.

Our national women’s team failed to go through in their qualifying tournament in Algeria last month and will also miss next year’s World Championships.