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Classy women's volleyball team beat Lancaster in style

York's volleyball women were composed as they overcame a potentially tough challenge against Lancaster with consummate ease (Thumbnail credit Image: Philippa Grafton)

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UNIVERSITY OF YORK 3-1 LANCASTER UNIVERSITY
25-18, 25-15, 24-26, 25-21

York's volleyball women were composed as they overcame a potentially tough challenge against Lancaster with consummate ease.

Although they underperformed in the third set, the Black and Gold never looked truly threatened, and always seemed to have element of control in their performance.

The first set saw York open up a narrow 5-3 lead, as they went about pragmatically grinding out the points. Lancaster were struggling to compete, and, at 9-5, they decided to call a time out. This, however, did little, as York continued with their fluid net play to make it 17-9, an intimidating score-line. Although Lancaster did spark a revival, with the score at one point taken to 17-15, York retained enough composure to close out a deserved first set victory 25-18.

Similar themes emerged in the second set, as York stormed into a 7-2 lead. The Black and Gold side were showing greater desire to fight for the cause, showcasing some truly outstanding improvisation and reactions to keep the ball in play. However, Lancaster rallied, bringing the score margin back to 11-8. This was as good as it got for the team in red, with York continuing to stifle their opponents.

At 21-14, a Lancaster team in trouble called another time-out, but again this achieved nothing. York had little trouble in taking another vital step to victory, closing out the set 25-15.

It was do-or-die time for the Lancastrians, and they finally managed to kick themselves into gear, taking an early 6-2 lead. Their determined and generally improved play allowed them to dominate the York side for the first time in the game. As the score reached 18-10 in the favour of the Red Rose, York took a time-out. They then attempted to mount an astonishing comeback in the set, with the consistently accurate serves of Katharina Widerhofer causing Lancaster real problems. This dramatically took the scoreline to 19-19.

Nerves set in for both sides, as York looked to quickly close out the game. However, Lancaster better coped with this late pressure, taking the score to 24-22. Although York managed to regroup slightly, the Reds managed to make the match a more competitive contest, winning 26-24.

The fourth set began in understandably cagey style, with York managing to scrape out an 11-9 lead by the mid-point. They were soon pegged back by the resurgent Lancastrians at 13 all. The tension was palpable in the Sports Hall, but York again gained themselves a little breathing space, taking the score to 17-14 and making Lancaster take yet another time out. York were unquestionably playing better volleyball than their opponents, but their serve was beginning to behave a little inconsistently in these potentially dying stages.

At 20-18, York won perhaps the most pivotal point of the match. A lengthy and draining rally ensued, featuring some excellent and, at points, desperate play from both sides. In particular, a spectacular recovering dive from Lucia Linares caught the eye, flicking the ball back into play from an off-court position.

At this point, victory was firmly within York's grasp, and, after a final, cagey rally, York smashed for the win, taking the score to 25-21 and the match in four sets.

Captain Alexa Mittelhuber was delighted with the win, stating "It was a fantastic game. We had a good, solid start, but then Lancaster came back strongly. We'd lost previously 9 years in a row, so to get the win was great."

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