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Lancaster women’s volleyball 1sts continued their perfect start to the season by coming from behind in a close encounter to beat Manchester 1sts comfortably 3-1. Although dropping the first set by two points Lancaster’s ladies deservedly recovered in superb fashion to show their opponents just why they’re in the highest division of BUCS and that they mean to stay there.
At the Sports Centre, the game began with neither side really grabbing control of the match. The score line teetered between both teams throughout the set, until Manchester delivered a sucker punch at the death. Despite Lancaster earning a set point, they were not able to land the all important decisive blow – which Manchester gladly did, taking the set 25-27. 1-0 to the visitors but positive signs from Lancaster’s women meant this game was in no way over.
The second set saw Lancaster’s underlying dominance prevail. The set was comfortably secured 25-11 in under 15 minutes, draining any confidence Manchester’s women in purple had gained from the previous set. Through great serving from Chiara Miele and Alex Buttol, Lancaster started greatly, taking a 11-1 advantage. This undoubtedly deflated their rivals as they continued their success to easily take the second set. Lancaster were now on top and the games momentum had shifted completely, as we headed into the final sets.
Once Lancaster had established their dominance, the third and fourth sets were wrapped up in a similar manner, only with less ease than the previous set. Both teams struggled to grab a tight hold in either of the final sets, until Lancaster gained a slim advantage which they built on convincingly as they sensed victory. The third set was secured 21-25 giving the home side a substantial cushion to take into what would be the final set.
Initially being a set down, the atmosphere around the court had now become less nervy due to the set buffer Lancaster now had. This gave the ladies on court the confidence to put the accelerator down, not giving Manchester any chance of a resurgence. Ultimately the fourth and final set was won 25-19, assuring Lancaster of their second league win of the campaign.
One of Lancaster’s key players was their no 11 Buttol, who spiked her way into Manchester nightmares. Time after time, when given the opportunity, Buttol would deliver power-laden smashes, securing points quickly and efficiently. The captain Louca, who wore the number 10 jersey also became one of Lancaster’s star achievers. Playing as the playmaker, Louca consistently set the ball for her taller team members with perfect accuracy.
From the sideline, Lancaster always looked for different options in attack to win points, whether that be utilising clever reverse sets, tantalising drop shots or killer serves- Manchester couldn’t deal with Lancaster’s attack or even know what was coming next. This all came through captain Louca who dictated the play convincingly, making Lancaster look an entertaining, well rigged side. After the game Louca told SCAN: “We are very pleased with the result. We were a bit nervous in the beginning which cost us the first set. Afterwards we pulled ourselves together, we were communicating better with each other and working better as a team. We will try to do our best and keep the team in the first league and we are looking forward to our next games.”
Lancaster’s unity was clear, showing just why they’ve established themselves as one of the best volleyball teams in the BUCS leagues. Each player was prepared to jump, slide or dive to save any ball, by any means. Angelika Kroner wearing the number 9 shirt particularly stood out on multiple occasions, diving miraculously to keep the ball alive. The team’s willingness to never give up quite possibly gave them the decisive edge over a competent Manchester side.
After a very promising start for Lancaster Women’s Volleyball 1sts, perhaps the tougher tests will come from the two North-Easterly based teams of the division, in Northumbria and Durham’s 1sts. They will both prove a stern test having not dropped a set this season and being winners/runners-up of the league and cup last year; Lancaster will need to cause a great upset to knock the Women’s Volleyball titans off their perch. Lancaster’s next game will be away to Liverpool this Wednesday (13th) before playing their next home game against Sheffield at the end of the month (27th).