Playing in the top tier of the Northern BUCS Men’s Volleyball league, Leeds University would surely have gone into the game as slight favourites over Leeds Beckett. With this being a Varsity match however, the formbook counted for very little, and there was an intriguing subplot to the game with University of Leeds stalwart Nigel Sibanda acting as the coach of the Beckett team. Sibanda’s influence clearly had an effect on Carnegie as well, as they employed powerful strikes against a lacklustre Leeds Uni side to see out a first set that they were never behind in except following the very first point of the match. Aided by a couple of unfortunate mistakes from the Gryphons in their serving and returning that saw the visitors reel off five consecutive points at one point, they were pinned back in the closing exchanges and squandered one set point before claiming the first by 25 points to 22.
The Beckett contingent were present and correct on the balcony at the Edge Sports Hall and were in fine voice throughout proceedings, perhaps one factor that gave their side the mental edge over Leeds Uni going into the second set. This was a tense affair from the off with play being kept close to the net as a couple of lacklustre points from the men in green in addition to a couple of unnecessary fouls gave Beckett the edge as they headed towards the business end of the set. As the volleyball ricocheted off a Leeds Uni player and out of play to give Carnegie yet another point, chants of ‘Beckett’s on fire’ started ringing around the Hall, and from then on the result of the second set seemed, in all honesty, a foregone conclusion. Another five consecutive points for the leaders made the score 25-18 saw them double their advantage on the scoreboard and leave the Gryphons with it all to do.
Both sides looked tired at moments throughout the third set, and though there were glimmers of the Leeds Uni ability that has seen them maintain their place in the top tier of the Northern BUCS league, Beckett simply had more agility, determination and belief. You were left with the feeling that had this been the beginning of the game then the Gryphons may have had a fair chance at getting something out of the match. As it was though, Beckett asserted in imperious fashion, and after a poor run of serves from Leeds Uni, the set, and with it the match, was closed out by the visitors by 25 points to 16.
Though Leeds Uni will no doubt be looking to put this performance behind them going into the regular season there were some positives in their teamwork and some impressive leaps they made to control the volleyball, but overall Beckett deserved their win, showing the importance of strength and power, and using it to full effect.
Photo Credit: The Gryphon