UNIVERSITY OF YORK 0-3 NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY (16-25, 21-25, 27-29)
BUCS Northern Conference 2B
Despite York’s attempted comeback in the second and third sets, it was not enough to overcome a determined and well-organised Newcastle side that were consistently strong from start to finish.
It was very hard to differentiate between the two sides from the onset with York demonstrating the excellent team work they’ve been showing all season, as Lucia Linares continued to play a pivotal role in building set plays.
But 2-2 soon became 4-2 as Newcastle began to build momentum. Both teams were equally good, but the visitors were providing stronger finishes, delicately placing shots where the hands of the White Rose could not reach.
Newcastle built up an 11-7 and they maintained that healthy point gap between the two sides for the rest of the set; their principal smasher continued to provide the edge over the home side.
York called for a time out at 13-18 and they did look rejuvenated after the short talk, but they failed to win any of the next five points – Lee acrobatically kept their opening rally alive, but an unfortunate Katie Widerhofer could only fire her smash into the net.
The opposing side stretched their lead to 23-13, eventually seeing the set out at 25-16 to Newcastle.
In the second set, the sides started equally once more, but again Newcastle’s prowess in their shot placement was showing at they opened up a 7-3 lead.
The home side began to look low in confidence, and this was shown in their play as their setting moves as their shots continued to be beaten by either the net of the by-line. A 6-11 deficit soon became 8-14 as Newcastle maintained their point buffer once again as they defended well at the net.
Towards the end of the set, York did attempt a comeback. They pulled the score back to 16-18, courtesy of a smash from Sechel. York were now looking better when their first phase of play was put into a better position.
However, they could only narrow the score to a two-point gap at most, despite forcing Newcastle into several mistakes. But the traits that lost the Black and Gold the first set sadly re-emerged in the final stages as Newcastle saw out the second set 25-21.
Newcastle continued their form into what would be the third and final set. York’s communication was now a lot quieter, whilst their opponent’s smashes continued to be too strong for them to defend; the Tyneside team built up an early 9-4 lead.
This time round, however, York made an earlier effort to forge a comeback. Some exquisite serving and smashing from Widerhofer, a clever punched shot from Yeung and an accurate shot from Rubini brought the score closer to 13-15.
A now more consistent York were not fighting to lead for the first time in the game and that moment came when principal setter Linares set up Yeung’s smash, making the score 21-20.
From then on, both teams struggled to break out of the deadlock and lay claim to the set as the score was dragged out to 27-27. Unfortunately, Newcastle took the next two points through a shot finding some clever space and a serve that Lee had no chance of defending, winning them the set and the match.
Even if they had won, York still would have faced a heavily uphill struggle to win the fourth and fifth set against a confident and well-organised Newcastle outfit.
Team captain Katie Widerhofer provided Nouse with some insight into their sudden poor form: “We had a tournament over the weekend and we did not win much, we lost five out of six of our games, but it was against sponsored teams and national-level players. We’ve had a weird spirit since then, we can’t get out of that mindset.”
York: Widerhofer (C), Linares, Rubini, Yeung, Guan, Lee, Sechel