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Women's volleyball earn historic Roses win

History was made as the women's volleyball team ended a five-year Roses itch to beat Lancaster in straight sets on Saturday afternoon (Thumbnail credit Image: Philippa Grafton)

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History was made as the women's volleyball team ended a five-year Roses itch to beat Lancaster in straight sets on Saturday afternoon.

There were no weak links in the team as York pulled together to defy recent form in this tournament, and their respective BUCS league positions, to gain a wonderful win.

Lancaster compete one league higher in the national university system but they were simply blown away by York's superior shot selection, serving and general commitment.

The opening salvoes of the game gave an indication of what was to come, as York raced away into a useful lead on the powerful serve of Daria Stroukova, and the intelligent net play of Judith Weiss. This became a common theme in the first set as Lancaster, slightly shorter in height and less accurate in their set-up shots, were robbed of a number of points at the net.

Eventually, Lancaster shook off their malaise but they were never able to grasp the lead, as regular technical errors held them back. The timeless UYVC combination of Stroukova and Annalies Vredeveldt combined to give York breathing space at 13-11, and they didn't look back, seizing the momentum with captain Alexa Mitterhuber to the fore.

She fired two rockets down the centre of the court to take York within sight of the finish line, and then delivered the winning point to wrap up the set 25-16.

A crafty touch over the net by Katharina Widrhofer set the tone for the second set as the Austrian's presence in the game grew. Her serving caused all kind of problems for Lancaster mid-set, before two brilliant shots at 18-10, with her weaker hand, and 20-13 set York on course for a commanding overall lead.

Lancaster briefly returned into contention and chipped away at the lead, but with Widrhofer and Mitterhuber inspired, York closed out the set 25-18 and Lancaster's path to the four points on offer looked a long and treacherous one.

To their credit, they didn't cave in. The third set was the tightest and ran nip and tuck until a succession of irresistible serves from Widrhofer eradicated Lancaster's fleeting lead. In truth, York had to club together to stay in touch before that point, with Vredeveldt and Joanne Lee winning points at critical moments, and Stroukova, the team's only designated setter, crumbling down with an injury.

In the end, York closed the game out 25-21 and deserve great credit for a victory years in the making.

University of York squad: 1. Alexa Mitterhuber, 7. Daria Stroukova, 4. Annalies Vredeveldt, 12. Joanne Lee, 9. Magdalena Kovacova, 5. Selena Yeung, 10. Judith Weiss, 13. Alexandra El-Bayeh, 14. Katharina Widrhofer, Libero - Anastasia Harunova.

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