Despite flashes of excellence, York Women’s Volleyball seconds fell short against Hull firsts, losing by three sets to one. The Black and Gold may have expected to struggle, given that their opponents were relegated last year and will be hoping to bounce back, but will have been encouraged by some impressive periods.
Hull stunned York in the opening exchanges, taking 11 of the first 13 points, thanks to a mix of dogged defending at the back of the court and errors from the York side. A timeout gave York a chance to regroup and refocus, but looked in vein as the next three points went Hull’s way. Any signs of a York comeback were scarce until, at 15-4, the home side won a fiercely contested rally to begin an impressive fightback.
Strong and accurate serving from Teresa Garcia gifted York some cheap points, and a smart touch from Marta Donati took the Black and Gold to double figures. Ultimately, the initial gap proved too great to bridge, York losing the first 25-18, but they took their form from the end of the first set into the start of the second set and started causing Hull more and more problems.
The introduction of Kristyna Hribalova at the start of the second set added a new dimension at the net for York, who immediately looked more defensively stable. A deft touch at the net by Joanne Connolly deceived Hull and put York ahead for the first time at 8-7. Both sides exchanged points, but Hull managed to open up a three point gap after a punishing rally ended in an error from York. However, the home side responded almost immediately, winning seven points in a row from 18-20 to 25-20, aided again by superb serving from Garcia.
However, hope of winning a set being a catalyst for victory for York were soon discarded. The start of the third set was almost a carbon copy of the first, Hull racing to an 11-2 lead and York calling a timeout. Unfortunately for York, this failed to stem the flow of mistakes and York relinquished the third set 25-10. Once more, the Black and Gold were far the better side when far behind and not under pressure and, in keeping with the trend of repetition, the opening of the fourth set mirrored the second.
On this occasion, York took the early lead. Connolly’s decisive and intelligent play at the net returned, and combined well with Sophie Rudge and Garcia’s penetrating spikes, giving York a reliable source of points for the first time.
Confusion at 9-8 and subsequent deliberation stifled York’s momentum, but the Black and Gold remained firmly at the heels of Hull, until the away side manufactured a decisive three point lead. At 18-18, York looked well positioned to take the fourth set in the same manner as the second, but they couldn’t capitalise. A powerful spike from Garcia drew York to within one at 21-22, only for Hull to respond with three points in succession, and take the match with an ace.
Despite the score reading 3-1, for York to challenge a team that were in a league above last season will offer further encouragement to add to improved performances in general this year. York lie third in the league, having finished sixth last year, and whilst promotion could be beyond them this year, it is certainly a realistic target in the near future.
York: Rudge (C), Donati, Connolly, Li, Dubiel, Garcia, Remmoti, Hribalova, Gedge
Player of the Match: Teresa Garcia