Sunday 19th February, Eibar
BENGOETXEA VI – APRAIZ beat BERASALUZE VIII – ALBISU 22-19
This mid-table encounter was always bound to be keenly fought; not only do these two Asegarce pairs need every point they can lay their hands on, but Berasaluze and Bengoetxea are nothing if not fighters. In the final analysis however, it was the discrepancy in the fortunes of the defenders which made the difference. Despite their loss here, Berasaluze and Albisu remain fourth, but Bengoetxea and Apraiz draw level on points in sixth.
The eventual winners were ahead almost throughout, Berasaluze and Albisu rearing their heads only in the passage of play between 9-9 and 11-11 which saw them take the lead thanks to the venom of the former’s serve. For the rest of the encounter, Bengoetxea and Apraiz gave the illusion of control, as they led from the front, but their opponents were forever biting at their heels and never allowed daylight to squeeze into the gap. The two forwards were fairly evenly matched, with Berasaluze ending with the slightly better figures. Neither had a stellar game but both were solid enough. Berasaluze’s cross court play was a little varied in success but the airez and ganxto he produced on 17-20 and 18-20 were from the very top drawer. He also fired four service winners to pull his pair back into touch precisely when this was needed. Bengoetxea showed his special talent early with a rebote followed by a wonderfully inventive zabalean and he also matched Berasaluze in the art of plucking the txoko from nowhere.
In the back division, Apraiz was solid if unspectacular, four mistakes clouding a match in which he for the most part controlled his opposite number very well. Albisu, however, was the very antithesis of the rock in defence which Berasaluze so badly needed. He leaked errors, committing thirteen in all. They were mitigated a fraction by three winners, with which he showed some imagination, but his partner had no chance of rescuing affairs as time and again he failed when Berasaluze had won them a base on which to build. Particularly damaging were his four errors in a row, three of which were high on the frontis, which turned an 11-9 lead into a 11-13 defecit. When he hit low to hand Bengoetxea and Apraiz a 20-16 lead, that looked to be the kiss of death but Berasaluze never gave up trying and pulled back three points in a row to make things interesting. However, there really was no comeback from his subsequent falta and when Albisu went low again, it was 22-19. Game over.
Scoring sequence: 0-3/ 1-3/ 1-6/ 5-6/ 5-8/ 8/ 8-9/ 9/ 11-9/ 11/ 11-15/ 15/ 15-17/ 16-17/ 16-20/ 19-20/ 19-22
Winners/errors: Berasaluze 9/2, Benogetxea 7/3, Albisu 3/13, Apraiz 0/4
Match time: 1:01.58 with 21:86 of actual play
Balls hit: 431