The Men’s Volleyball 1s continued their strong start to the season with a 3-1 victory over the University of York, but it was anything but easy going for the Gryphons in this tense encounter.
In their three matches this season the home side have only lost two sets, showing the resilience and strength of the squad at the moment. The second of those conceded sets was the first in this match, as York came flying out of the traps.
The visitors did a great job of not allowing Leeds to get into a groove and capitalised on the Gryphons numerous errors. The fluidity and confidence of recent performances was lacking and York continually kept the point alive, forcing errors from their opponent. The story of the first set was the vast amount of cheap points gifted to the vistors which ultimately saw them pinch a 25-22 victory.
York started the second with their tails up, firing into an early lead once again, and it looked at one point like the Leeds side might crumble. Mark Elgar obviously had other ideas, as he fired some powerful spikes that penetrated the York defence to claw his side back into it.
At times, the second set was not one for the Volleyball purists, as things got scrappy on court. The ball seemed more like a hot potato that neither side actually wanted, as the game plan seemed to go out of the window for both teams. Improvisation was needed at times, with creative net play by Mohammed Basha helping the Gryphons level the scores after a 25-21 second set victory.
The third set was where it all finally clicked for the home side, as they finally got into top gear. Gabriel Leoni stepped up to the plate with some excellent play to see the Gryphons stretch to a 14-7 lead.
For a side that had such a huge physical presence, including a giant who must have been close to seven feet, York seemed to be somewhat lacking in the blocking department. Time and time again Leeds were creating great chances that they put away, and when Jen Hsien Hsu teed up Nigel Sibanda to strike, the third set was wrapped up.
The fourth set saw both sides commit numerous unforced errors, but Leeds’ quality shone through as they outfoxed their opponents. The tactic of elongating the points and then killing them off worked wonders and meant that another closely-fought set was theirs once York’s giant knocked another spike too long – for the umpteenth time.
Elgar and Captain Sibanda were in high spirits after what was a closely fought game. ‘We all played really well today, we are setting our sights on promotion this year’, Elgar stated after the game. Sibanda was in equally confident mood: ‘It’s my first year as captain and we have won our first three games 3-1, 3-0 and 3-1 so things are looking good’.
Newcastle are next on the agenda for the Gryphons, and after two successive wins in the league they will be feeling confident when Leeds welcome them to Fortress Gruphon Centre.
Adam Le Roux
Image courtesy of Anne Wyman