Nemostars are built for the big stage. They love to turn it up when the pressure is on them.
When the chips were down during the season, Nemostars found ways to redefine their experience just like they did when written off in the 2015 finals. When Nemostars won Game One last week, the organisers and fans thought they could sweep Sport-S and consequently carried the trophies and prize monies to Game Two last Saturday.
Instead Andrew Okapis, who admitted the pressure was on them to defend their title, and his players conspired to let Sport-S force a decider from 2-0 down. It is such lapses that always give opponents the feeling that ‘against Nemo, one always has a chance.’
It is this very feeling that fueled the enthusiasm Sport-S had in the first set of Game Three which they commanded and led 19-22 at some point. When Nemo went ahead at 23-22, the roaring celebrations in the MTN Arena showed there was only going to be one winner.
“Any coach would know that complacency is one thing that disorganises players but today we I advised them that we lessen our mistakes and when it mattered we scored,” Okapis said.
With Nemo not keen on self-destructing, Sport-S were bound to pay for not capitalizing when they had the chance. Not even forcing deuces at the end of the first set that went Nemo’s way 32-30 was going to save them.
The next two set were a walk in the park as Sport-S exhibited why they have never won a league championship as Nemo defended their title and booked their ticket to yet another Africa Club Championships.
Nkumba upset odds
Earlier, Nkumba had showed how one kicks an opponent when they are down. As Vision Volleyball Camp (VVC) struggled to find rhythm throughout the game, Nkumba’s libero Flavia Nandawula was in her element building their game from defence.
“The season has been very long so it was extremely tough. We needed players to be mentally and physically ready to play. I am extremely happy that we pulled it off.
“First we were not under pressure because we are the underdogs so we played calmly. We needed to serve, block and defend well because we could match them in other aspects,” Nkumba coach Lakony said.
In the end, Nkumba could match VVC and more – so much that the latter’s coach Hannington Nsubuga had to walk out on his team as he had seen enough of the glaring mistakes. When the scoreboard turned 24-18 in the fourth set, Nsubuga crossed over to Lakony, congratulated him on “planning well and winning the final,” before matching out of the arena with the exuberance his side should have played with on the night.
NVL SERIE A FINALS
M: Nemo 3-0 Sport-S
(32-30, 25-13, 25-19)
W: Nkumba 3-1 VVC
(25-18, 22-25, 25-21, 25-20)