Valiant Volleyball defeat for Leeds

There was heartbreak for the Men’s Volleyball 1s at The Gryphon Sports Centre on Wednesday as they went down fighting 3-2 to Manchester 2s, in an epic match that lasted for well over two hours. It was Manchester who went into an early lead, taking advantage of some poor Leeds returning to shoot off with a 13-2 advantage in the first set, a period which was broken up by a lengthy injury break. Stopping the rot with a powerful and precise point, Leeds went on to peg their opponents back to 14-7, in a set that like the much of the rest of the game was played largely at the net rather than in deeper areas of the court. However, in this game, power is always important, and the Mancunians used theirs to a tee to assert in the first set as the Gryphons petered out and lost 25-15.

Things were more positive for Leeds at the beginning of the second set; it was 5-5 at the first time-out when they were given a stern talking to. These words seemed to do their job as they managed to shake off a persistent Manchester. The visitors never quite went away, always staying within five points but ultimately Leeds retained their lead, and with it took the second set to level things up in the match. Manchester finished off the set strongly, however, and carried this form over into the next, establishing a 10-2 advantage following a controversial call from the officials to award them a point after a perceived net foul. The home side pulled things back to 14-14 however, and from there it was nip and tuck play until Manchester just about clinched it when Leeds struck the ball out to make it 27-25.

The fourth set, delayed slightly by the fact the allotted time for the game has elapsed – it had lasted that long already – was by far the closest of the five, with never more than a two point cushion between the two sides. It can’t be said it was of the highest quality, either, being full of net fouls and misplaced serves from both sides, as the effect the long game was having on them was beginning to show. If either side has seized the initiative it seems they could have been comfortable winners of this set, but as it was Leeds needed two avoidable Manchester fumbles to just squeeze the point, again 27-25.

So it was that the game went to a fifth and final set – played to just 15 points as usual – and from the beginning it seemed that Leeds felt a beaten side. Manchester went into an early lead and within the short format the Gryphons never truly looked like catching them. After more than two hours and over 200 points being played, Manchester sealed the win in the final set 15-9. The disappointment the valiant home side felt was evident, but they can take solace in their performance, in which they looked a real force to be reckoned with in the BUCS Northern 1A league this year.

University of Leeds 1s 2-3 University of Manchester 2s

John Gibby

Photo Credit: The Gryphon

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