Men’s volleyball fall to heavy Huddersfield defeat

UNIVERSITY OF YORK FIRSTS 0-3 HUDDERSFIELD UNIVERSITY FIRSTS
BUCS Northern Conference 2B

Images: Philippa Grafton

An emerging York volleyball firsts side were white-washed against a confident opposition in the form of Huddersfield, but the scoreline did not truly represent the closeness of the game.

York’s inconsistency led to their demise in the first set; however they came out refreshed in the second set and took it down to the wire, coming painstakingly close to getting their foot back in the game. Huddersfield went on to take the third in a set that epitomised the game as a whole.

Both teams started the match evenly; Kai Chan used great agility to eventually set up Chris Stent for his trademark power smash to make it 5-5. But from this point on, things began to go downhill for the home team. A mixture of communicative errors and inconsistency from York, along with deadly accuracy from Huddersfield, meant the set quickly ran away from York.

At 10-18 a York time-out was not enough to get them back into the set and opposing side from West Yorkshire. Huddersfield went on to win the set 14-25. York would have to respond significantly in the second set – a big ask for captain Panis Nearchau. Clearly, what he said had a major effect.

York came into the set as a totally different team, bulging with a newfound confidence. They came out to take a 3-1 lead but a couple of sloppy errors brought Huddersfield back into the game at 3-3. The two teams were now evenly matched until Huddersfield found rhythm to their play and took an 8-12 lead.

The home side immediately called for a tactical timeout and again they came out with a fresh outlook to the game. After a long and impressive rally, Stent again pulled out a trademark smash to bring it to 10-12 and a couple of plays later Fred Pfeil levelled the set to 12-12 with a pitch-perfect shot.

But credit still has to remain with Huddersfield who continued to remain highly accurate and defensively sound as they went on to take a 17-23 lead. They were two points from victory and on a roll, so York called for another tactical timeout.

Once again, York pulled it out of the bag after the timeout. A series of fine winning shots and defensive blocks meant the game was levelled at 23-23. York continues with the second coming of their newfound confidence as Sven Sabas used an incredibly quick hand at net to keep the score level at 24-24.

A rattled Huddersfield then feared the worst at 25-24. They responded well and pulled another two points as they searched for one more final point in order to create the two-point lead that would give them the set. York were desperately unlucky to lose the final point; Rory Kelly reacted swiftly to keep the ball in possession but his foot slipped under the net to concede the fault.

York came into the third set with some high intensity shots. The set was, again, very level in the opening ten points. However, synchronised diving from both Chan and Nearchau was not enough to stop the point that led Huddersfield to take the lead.

Huddersfield continued to keep hold of their lead, despite a series of blissful power smashes from the ever-reliable Stent, along with Chan diving to reach some incredible balls. Huddersfield eventually took the final set 21-25, winning the match 3-0.

York captain Nearchau revealed this about his team talk that nearly brought his squad back into the game: “I said to them that it was now or never because I knew this was going to be a vital point in the game. We have several new players in the team [Woodward, Fan and Pfeil] and we have been training together for the past three weeks. I’ve tried to gradually add new players in for the more experienced players, but I’m really excited about where we’re going”.

York squad: Nearchou (C), Chan, Kelly, Stent, Grey, Pfeil, Fan, Krzyszycha, Gospodinov, Sabas, Woodward

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