Gryphons Still Set for Promotion
- Volleyball team still yet to lose a single set this season
- Outstanding performances from Anu Vall and Wen Fu
LEEDS’ volleyball women kept up their winning record at the start of the season with a comfortable 3-0 victory over York at the Gryphon Sports Centre on Wednesday night.
The Gryphons were confident going into the match, having won their opening two BUCS games and having not conceded a set in either.
The girls in green started the match brightly and stormed into a 5-2 lead, although a series of lucky net topples meant that York climbed their way back to 5-5. Fine serving from Annicka Hack and Anu Vall kept Leeds on the front foot and allowed them to execute some clinical slams. The home side were buoyed by winning the first long rally of the game where York, despite some valiant defending, could not find a response to Ionna Loukaidou’s powerful finish.
Another slam from Hack made it 20-14, before Loukaidou performed a brilliant reflex when she swiftly reacted to her blocked shot at the net, calmly looping it over. Two more strong serves from Hack saw the set out at 25-15.
The start of the second set saw York showing signs of improvement, but the skill of Kohsun Kao kept the opposition on their toes, and Leeds worked patiently before gradually edging into the lead at 8-7. Vall continued to thwart the York defence with her strong slamming from deep, and the partnership between Fu and Loukaidou was working well.
York could not keep up with the quickened pace of the game and after several forced errors, Leeds moved into a four-point lead. An intelligent punt from the in-form Loukaidou followed, before another big serve from Vall rattled the York defence. Leeds were playing the better volleyball and winning more points at the net in part due to the excellent work from setter Wen Fu, who was playing a pivotal role in accurately positioning the ball for the outside hitters.
Having won the set by a twelve-point margin, the game looked all but over for Leeds’ county rivals and it was only a matter of whether the Gryphons could maintain their dominance for the duration.
However, York had not resigned themselves to defeat and came out fighting in the third set in a way that well and truly tested the Gryphons, showing better rhythm in their passing and possessing more of the attacking play. The opposition took their chances better at the net and were causing problems for the Leeds backline.
Vall brought it back to 15 apiece with a great serve, before more great exchange work between Loukaidou and Fu edged Leeds in front. York continued to battle and after a few deflected shots and several misjudged attempts from Leeds edged them back into the lead at 18-19. Vall got down low but could not retrieve a York slam and just as Hack made it 20-20, she unfortunately served into the net and York were two points away from claiming the set.
The Gryphons then called time for a team-talk which steered them to victory. As the girls in green took to the court again, Laffan immediately made up for her previous error, looping the ball tamely over the net before Loukaidou scored again to square the game at 23-23. Vall served for the match and after a brief rally, she slammed the ball at a York defender to ensure that Leeds had the last word.
Although this was arguably an easy game for the Gryphons, their character was truly tested in the third set. Credit must be given to an adamant York side who made the girls work for their third consecutive victory to continue what has been a promising start to the new season.
Featured image: The Gryphon