Captain’s Comments: Men’s volleyball maestro Jack Butcher gives his take on a difficult away game against BUCS league leaders Sheffield Hallam
The men’s volleyball team completed a gruelling week of fixtures with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of table-topping Sheffield Hallam. Having played the top three teams in the division all within the space of seven days, this proved a match too far with the squad decimated through injury and illness. In particular, the absence of Luca Accorsi with his powerful hitting and controlled back-court passing proved a huge blow to any hopes of causing an upset against an undefeated Hallam side who have conceded just two sets all season.
It was immediately apparent that Hallam considered the fixture a formality that needed completing and sadly this showed in their arrogance and lack of respect. Failing to provide a qualified referee, let alone a second-referee or scorers, gave the fixture the air of a light-hearted practice as opposed to a Division 1 BUCS encounter.
Unfortunately for us, this haughtiness was underscored by precocious talent and we never really kept pace with their superior power. A distinct height advantage and an ability to hit intelligently with great power, exposed our defensive frailties on a regular basis. Despite this, we showed great spirit in sticking to the cause and not allowing Hallam to simply run riot. There was genuine backcourt commitment to put bodies on the line and chase down every ball in an attempt to keep the points alive. Coupled with some intelligent ball placement by the hitters, we ensured that we kept the scoreboard ticking over.
However, under the sustained barrage of Hallam’s jump-serves and penetrating attacks from all positions, we struggled to maintain the accuracy of our passing. This restricted the attacking options available and meant we were unable to effectively utilise our own big middle-hitters.
While playing one of the top teams in the country at the end of such a tough weak was always going to be a challenge, there were some real positives to take from the match. Despite all the odds stacked against us, every player fought until the end. This was characterised by a late flurry of points in the third set, despite already being 23-12 and two sets to zero down.
While it’s always disappointing to lose, the team has made noticeable progress this term which, with hard work, we can build upon in the new year to cement a top-three league finish.