York 0 Lancaster 3
York women’s volleyball team were unable to stamp their own special mark on this remarkable Roses weekend, but, while the history books will record a straight sets Lancaster victory, those present in the large crowd will know this match wasn’t nearly as one-sided as that score suggests.
Unfailingly at the forefront of everything that was good about her team’s play, Lancaster’s athletic number nine, Erika Pedersen, time and again made the difference, guiding the Red Rose to the four points on offer. York were well-drilled and disciplined, as they have been throughout a successful BUCS campaign – where they ultimately finished runner-up behind Leeds Met – but were repeatedly undone by Pedersen’s cannon-like smashes and inch-perfect placement.
In a closely-fought first set, Lancaster constructed their advantage almost unnoticed, acquiring points calmly, not spectacularly. Once the visitors had neutralised the strong serve of York’s Daria Stroukova, they went about their business efficiently, always concluding their moves with the hammer fist of Pedersen or the equally capable, though less accurate, Laura Seville. Both sides struggled to retain the serve for any length of time and, in an attritional set, York would have been frustrated to be edged out 25-23, particularly having gifted two points for failing to assume correct positions after rotating.
The second set, played out before a swelling audience, evolved from cagey opening to one-woman show, as the unorthodox ‘catapult’ serve of Lancaster’s Amanda Burton (think Andre Nel, the South African cricketer) baffled the York returners. Her unbroken sequence of 12 points proved a crippling blow in such a psychological sport, York having little answer to the tactic. Pedersen continued to influence, manipulating her height to great effect at the net to win points at the crucial junctures as Lancaster romped away 25-10.
Facing an uphill struggle, York restored a great amount of pride in the third set, threatening throughout to extend a fine afternoon’s entertainment for the spectators before succumbing 27-25. Finally, Lucy Porter started to find her range, converting a great deal of the early momentum created by Stroukova’s serves into solid points on the board. A freshness swept the team after the introduction of Annelies Vredeveldt and the arguably overdue introduction of libero Anastasia Harunova to counter the venomous Lancaster serves. With captain Lisa Breitschuh evidently slowed by a knee injury, York doggedly matched their opponents and took the set beyond the 25-point mark before, appropriately, Pedersen finished proceedings with characteristic assurance.
York: 4. Maiko Uesaki, 5. Sophie Lawton, 6. Lisa Breitschuh (captain), 9. Janette Chow, 10. Lucy Porter, 11. Annelies Vredeveldt, 13. Anastasia Harunova, 16. Daria Stroukova
Lancaster: 2. Amanda Burton, 5. Sara Coccolli, 6. Laura Seville, 7. Sabine Maisch, 9. Erika Pedersen, 10. Elina Vettersand