In their time playing together over the last few months and years, the men of the ever-cosmopolitan men’s volleyball team must have learned a few things. On Saturday afternoon, they decided to share their wisdom and educate their Lancaster opponents in the finer points of the sport, strolling to a straight sets victory which verged on the genuinely classy.
They genuinely had saved their best until last, a truth acknowledged by Captain Jack Butcher as he trooped off following a heroic performance: “That was awesome, the best we’ve played all year in our biggest match of the year.” Butcher, set to join the swelling ranks of players who play for and then must depart this team of transience, enthused that ‘it was exactly what we wanted,’ a fitting farewell.
It was yet another jewel of a display in York’s Roses crown, as Lancaster – who at least were able to muster a team this year – were brushed aside with abandon in front of a sizeable crowd.
From the outset, York were intense, vocal and purposeful, seizing the serve instantly and exploiting it through the range and pin-point accuracy of Janis Koknevics to establish an early 5-1 lead. Butcher was mouthy, in the best possible way, to inspire his teammates and backed up his words with incredulous actions, diving full length to rescue York’s sixth point.
Lancaster were unable to retain the serve for any length of time in the first set, trying the best to turn a deaf ear to York’s impressive repetoire of humiliation chants, wheeled out after each point. Jaroslav Ruzicka, Lancaster’s smasher-in-chief, enjoyed his moments, but could find no consistency, in contrast to York’s Josh Chipman, who serially executed points with bold shots throughout the match.
Two such smashes proved the highlight of the first set, which York eventually took in pretty comfortable fashion, 25-16. The Red Rose showed a touch more urgency in the second set, but their errors were frequent and mostly unnecessary. Chipman continued to show an unerring knack of picking out the little glimpses of polished floor with his shots, while Jon Stammers was prominent at the net as York wrestled control once more.
The wise head of Stammers proved influential in closing out the second set 25-17, with Butcher rounding things off with a deft touch over the net. Michal Kovac, sporting some ridiculously blingy trainers, launched York’s third set with a string of five unbroken serves and Lancaster, by now psychologically crippled, faded badly.
There were more fine examples of York’s superiority when Koknevics produced a wonderfully contolled shot just inside the touchline and Chipman again soared above the net to unleash another insanely fast smash. The introduction of Alex Taylor, poached from the college volleyball scene, only added to the one-sided nature as York carved a ten-point lead in closing out the game. Koknevics had the honour of wrapping things up at 25-15, showing a clinical touch at the net for the umpteenth time.
“Many of the players were out of position,” added Butcher to raised eyebrows. “It was awesome to have the crowd here, it gives you added momentum. I’m very proud of everyone and as this is the last time we will play together I’m glad to say Lancaster never had a sniff.”