By Trust Mtegha
Mipuniro Spikers Mipuniro Spikers Volleyball Club, who were the bronze medalists in Sempha Central Region Volleyball League (CRVL); Vale Logistics national tournament and also for Raiply national tournament in 2018 season, survived relegation in the 23rd Century Systems 2019 season that finalised on Saturday.
The team served a six months suspension from the league and subsequently forfeiting all its seven first round matches and only only played seven games out of all 14.
This means each team in men’s CRVL Category A Men for 2019 season got 3 points out of Mipuniro at 3-0 match win and 25-0 for each set for the seven first round matches.
After playing six games in which they lost one, when they resumed playing for league games Mipuniro Spikers was a strong contender for relegation alongside Blue Eagles Youth and Don Bosco.
However, according to CRVL regulations 2016, its only the bottom two teams in Category A Men that get relegated to Category B men. It is the same number of teams that are promoted from Category B; number one and two.
Mipuniro reduced their chances of being relegated by coming from behind to win 3-2 against Dragons, who had been leading the first two sets.
But that was not enough for them to completely escape their impending fate as their relegation partner, Blue Eagles Youth had an advantage since they had a game in hand against Dragons.
It took Dragons’ 3-1 win over Eagles to save Mipuniro from relegation because if otherwise if Eagles had won, it meant they could have had six wins, just as Mipuniro, but the former could have survived relegation on set quotient.
Mipuniro had no set for them from all first round matches and had 21 one sets against them which meant a set quotient of zero for Mipuniro.
Thanks to Dragons’ win, Mipuniro survived at the expense of Eagles Youth while Eagles Youth — with only five wins out of 14 matches and Don Bosco with just a single win over Mipuniro’s first round match — were the qualified relegated teams.
The two teams also came together from Category B in 2018 season after Eagles took the gold medal while Don Bosco was number four out of the six teams.
But Don Bosco found its way from Category B because silver medalists Mipuniro Youth remained in B as well as Mchinji Trickers, who were number three.
Prior to the match against Dragons, Mipuniro were sitting second from last and Mipuniro coach, Simbani Banda Simba said most of his players were committed elsewhere and almost failed to make a team.
“Morale was generally low,” said the coach. “We had to dig deep as we were facing defeat but luckily, experience reigned and splendid performances from Willz Damaseke, Horace Kwengwere and Musatero Nkhonzi saw us coming from behind to clinch the 3-2 victory.”
Mipuniro Spikers were suspended for six months for boycotting to play against Kamuzu Barracks in the quest to force the soldiers team to show remorse, apologise and respect sports values and stop unsportsmanlike conducts they had been involved in.
It was suspended along with Lilongwe Spikers for the same reasons, who later successfully appealed the verdict to Volleyball Association of Malawi and were ordered to pay MK100,000, stop boycotting and their first round matches be played.
CRVL found the two teams guilty of the charge of causing abandonment of a match by refusing to play against Kamuzu Barracks men’s senior team.
They were also disqualified to participate in the 2019 Raiply national tournament and were replaced with the fourth position team, Blue Eagles (now Eagles).
Mipuniro coach, Simbani Banda Simba, claims that the decision to award points to other teams for their first round games was unconstitutional and unsportsmanship.
“From the moment we were handed the six months suspension, we knew we would be involved in the relegation battle.
“What we had not prepared for, however, was an unconstitutional and unsportsmanlike decision to award points to other teams for games that were not even on the fixtures,” he complained.
Simba added that regardless of them being out of action for six months — April to September — their eyes were for Confederation of African Volleyball (CAVB) Zone VI Senior Clubs Championship which Malawi hosted in Lilongwe.
“All the same, our plan was to win all our remaining seven league matches and get in shape for Zone VI competition,” Simba said.
Unfortunately, Mipuniro’s fortunes were still down for the Zone VI Championship as they lost all of their three matches against Green Bufalloes from Zambia (3-0), the eventual champions University of Zimbabwe Wolves (3-1) and compatriots Moyale Barracks (3-1) — ending on the last position.
Mipuniro Spikers joined CRVL in 2015 season.