UNIVERSITY OF YORK 2-3 LANCASTER UNIVERSITY
Images: Petroc Taylor
Traditionally, volleyball is a non-contact sport, but both sides left the court battered and beaten in this bruiser of a contest. Both teams were pushed to the limits, with neither the White nor Red Rose deserving to lose this contest. Ultimately, however, Lancaster won the match by the skin of their teeth, after York had spurned two match points in the fourth set. York can hold their heads high after being more than a match for their opponents for much of the tie, and showcased the excitement of a sport that often slips under the radar.
The first set saw an even contest throughout, with neither team able to find their rhythm. In the early stages, York found themselves winning the majority of their points through the mistakes of their opponents. However, as the game warmed up, both teams were able to pressurise, with York and then Lancaster forced to call timeouts at points during this set. At 22-22, tension began to mount, but, eventually, York were able to pull ahead slightly, gaining the margin of two clear points needed to take the set 30-28, utilising the potent weapon of Mark Woodward’s spike efficiently.
Losing a set in such close fashion saw a fired-up Lancaster take control of the second set. Despite York pegging them back at 7-7, the Red Rose were showing much greater initiative and consistency, whereas York had lost some of their previous lustre. At one point the score was 18-10, and, whilst York managed to close this gap, they were never fully able to catch their opponents, who won the set 25-20 to level the tie.
York asserted control early in the second set, playing with a flow and cohesion that Lancaster found hard to resist. The Red Rose called a time out at 18-14, and brought the margin back to 20-19. York played the time out card themselves, to assuage any potential nerves, and closed out the set 25-19 after winning five straight points.
One more set, then, was all it took for the York win. Lancaster again came out fighting strongly, building a lead to 15-9 midway through the set and looking to take the game to a deciding set. A York timeout saw influential captain Chris Stent substituted back onto the court to push his team onwards, and, gradually, York fought back, closing the margin until the scores were tied at 18 apiece. The White Rose were seemingly edging towards victory, with Stent pulling off some vital spikes. At 24-22, York had two match points. The first of which was cruelly wasted when, attempting to set up a spike, the ball slipped from Panayotis Nearchou’s fingertips. This jangled nerves, and saw Lancaster pull it back to 24 all, and then win the fourth in crushing fashion, necessitating a final set.
After this morale sapping loss in the last set, York were understandably playing with nerves, which was capitalised upon by their opponents. Lancaster sensed weakness, and dominated the set, winning the set 15-7 and the Roses points.
An exhausted Chris Stent told Nouse, “I’m gutted. It was a fantastic game, we played some great stuff at times. We’re all absolutely knackered, we put everything on the court there.”
York: Stent (C), Rubini, Chan, Kely, Le, Nearchou, Guan, Linares, Woodward, Pampiglione, Yeung, Sechel.