Heroic firsts snatch epic women’s volleyball win

UNIVERSITY OF YORK 3-2 LANCASTER UNIVERSITY

Images: Petroc Taylor

The York women’s volleyball firsts claimed an extraordinary five set win over Lancaster on day three of Roses 2013 after saving four match points.
There was nothing to separate the two teams throughout, but York held their nerve to stare down match points in the fourth and fifth set to run out 25-23, 23-25, 23-25, 27-25, 17-15 winners in possibly the tightest match of the tournament.

York claimed the win on their third match point as Lancaster sent the ball out, with the crowd reacting in raucous fashion, charging onto the court to sandwich the team in a mass bear-hug. Captain Christina Sechel was stunned, hardly able to control her emotions, whilst other members of the team lay on the court in fits of tears.

York started the match off in impressive style, carving out a 5-1 lead with some effective work at the net from Selena Yeung and Jilka Jizerova. However, they were soon pegged back, as Lancaster managed to stay within a point of the Black and Gold throughout the majority of the first set, briefly leading at times.

The standard was incredibly high, with long rallies characterising much of the game. Early on York showed great team chemistry, communicating well to earn them several crucial points.

Lancaster headed into to the business end of the first set with a 23-22 lead and the momentum firmly with them. However, at 23-22, York made a number of crucial last-ditch efforts to keep the point alive, with Rossy Rubini making an incredible dive to set the ball up for Jizerova to smash the ball into Lancaster’s side of the court.

York then held their nerve to seal a spectacular first set 25-23.

The second set continued in similar vein, with York building an early lead, before Lancaster seized the initiative to make a comeback. At 20-16 York looked as if they may run away with the second set, with Rubini in fine form, but after a long rally Lancaster managed to scrape ahead.

The Red Rose won a tense second set 25-23, much to the disappointment of the White Rose after blowing their lead.

York came out at the start of the third determined to take the lead, and so they did, racing into a 10-3 lead. But yet again Lancaster showed true passion and spirit to roar back into the set, levelling the scores at 16-16 with a graceful winner from Lancaster’s brilliant Louca Irene.

The scores stayed almost neck and neck; only for Lancaster sneak the third set.

York looked as if they were drifting away, falling 8-4 behind despite brilliant net play from Cherrie Wong. But York surged back into the game after a crucial time out, with Lucia Linares playing out of her skin to win York a number of important points.

The scores were tight throughout, and at 23-23 all the Sports Hall went silent, the crowd knowing how important the point was. If York won the point, they’d have a set point to take it into a decider, but if Lancaster won it, they would have a match point.

Lancaster seized the initiative with some smart communication and a lovely finish from Miele Chiara to bring up match point.

With the score at 24-23, York showed immense grit and determination to save match point in emphatic style, Sechel leading her troops by example.
This lifted York’s spirits and after four big points, York seized the set to take it into a decider.

Lancaster would have been forgiven if they had folded at this point but they did not.

Instead the scores stayed close throughout the final set, until Lancaster built up a sudden late burst of form, snatching a brutally long rally to make it 14-11 and give them three match points.

On the first, Lancaster served a fault, giving York a brief glimmer of hope. On the second, York held their nerve in incredible fashion, Joanne Lee making a crucial last ditch dive to keep the point alive. On the third, Lancaster crumbled, unable to cope with the insurmountable pressure.

Now York seized their chance. At 14-14, York played a marvellous point to bring up a match point of their own. But the Red Rose was not finished yet, drawing level to make it 15-15.

Some fabulous play from York, however brought up their second match point and they sealed the match in spectacular fashion.
Sechel told Nouse that the match was “absolutely crazy. I have no words for this.”

Meanwhile men’s president Chris Stent described it as “the best match I have ever seen.”

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