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Lancaster 3-2 Leeds
The Division One bottom of the table clash between the Lancaster and Leeds women produced a thrilling game of Volleyball with the home side pulling off an outstanding comeback to clinch a 3-2 victory. This is the first victory for Lancaster this season who had experienced a five match losing spree prior to the game. The win also takes them to the quarter finals of the championship where they will play Edinburg Napier University.
Leeds, who had defeated Lancaster 3-1 in the previous meeting of the two sides, started the game slowly and allowed Lancaster to dominate on the serve. Leeds put up a good fight towards the end of the first set, but the home side managed to take the lead with a 25-23 scoreline.
The second set started in similar fashion, and Lancaster were up 14-9 when Leeds started their comeback with some good serves from Lisa Maria Lettner and some good blocks and picks from Nicole Sparwasser and Captain Claire Denman. Lancaster had a great opportunity to seal the set on Irene Louca’s serve with both teams locked at 25 points, but she missed the serve and Leeds capitalised on that to take the set 25-27.
Leeds were in a very dominant position going in the third set with a score of 1-6 and looked all set to wrap it up quickly. However, Lancaster Captain Guoda Cibate led an inspiring comeback with a seven point rally to bring the score to 8-6 giving Lancaster a point lead. It was a very even contest from then on as both teams had 17 points each. Despite this, Leeds dominated with their serve and Lancaster struggled on the receiving end to give away the third set 20-25.
Lancaster had won only one set in the entire season before this match and that came against the same opposition. However, this was all about to change in the fourth set. Ekaterina Petrenko dominated for Lancaster with the serve to give them a six point lead bringing the score to 11-5. Cherry Yipcheukling dominated the court as the home side took this one 25-12 to take the game into the fifth set.
Leeds who had shown tremendous positivity with their body language and impressed everyone with their fighting spirit, were in no mood to give away the match and kept up the pressure on Lancaster. The scores were at 8-7 when a unfortunate incident happened; Cherry Yipcheukling, who had a brilliant game so far, injured her ankle resulting in the game having to be stopped for 15 minutes. It said a lot about the character of this young side when she came back onto the court to continue the game despite her injury. The fifth set went down to the wire with Lancaster ultimately holding their nerve for a 16-14 victory.
It was a well deserved win for the home side who are having a nightmarish season so far and so this win should do a world of good for their morale. Lancaster is suffering from the loss of a lot of their key players from last year whilst this year’s side is hugely inexperienced with only Captain Guoda having had previous experience of playing competitive volleyball. However, the future looks very promising and players like Cherry Yipcheukling, Ekaterina Petrenko, Stefania Pittas, Irene Louca and Kalliopi Baratsis look promising prospects for the future. Over the season, the side has shown glimpses of what it is capable of doing and the seven point ralley in the third set bares testimony to this.
The Team has much to work on, especially their serving after giving away far too many free points. If they want to avoid the relegation zone, they will have to increase their consistency rather than simply playing well in patches.
Their next game will be vital to prove that their last win was not a fluke whilst a loss will simply be one more nail in the coffin towards relegation.