It was a slow start to the Northern 3B fixture between Leeds Women’s 2s and Sheffield Hallam at The Edge on Wednesday afternoon, and not in terms of the quality of the volleyball. After almost an hour of technical difficulties with the net, during which time it was tweaked and altered, and taken down all together at least twice, the teams seemed understandably raring to go. It was the visitors who got off to by far the better start, firing themselves into a 2-10 advantage off the back of some slightly untidy play from Leeds, who seemed to just need a bit of time to get into gear during this match. That theory proved correct when the girls in green found themselves enjoying a purple patch later in the first set. Some long rallies matched up with nimble net play and a certain complacency from Hallam after their early success in the match meant they ended up levelling things at 21 points apiece with it seemingly all to play for. However, with Leeds serving having achieved parity, the ball was slammed right into the net at the worst possible moment. Even as it happened there was a tangible feeling that this could be a turning point in the match, and so it proved, with Hallam picking their momentum back up following the foul and going on to win the set narrowly, but decisively, with 23-25 the score.
Things were always going to be more level in the second set, especially near the beginning, and Leeds didn’t cut their guests quite so much slack in the opening exchanges this time around. Hallam were also to blame for their initial failure to kick on (this was literally the case with one point where they kicked the ball to win it), with a number of entirely avoidable fouls and out balls, which meant it really was nip and tuck stuff as the score went from 13-13 to 14-14 to 15-15. After this point however, the South Yorkshire side really found their stride and went on to asset in the second set. Despite one of the luckiest (or perhaps most skilful) returns probably ever seen in university volleyball to keep Leeds clinging on, they lost the second set by the larger margin of 20-25. Any time a team finds themselves down by that margin in a match it’s difficult for them to recover from, and though Leeds fought valiantly in the final set it never really seemed to be happening for them. The relatively long game for a three-sets match started to take its toll on the home side and Hallam triumphed once again, taking the set, and with it a straight-sets victory in the match.
It hasn’t been the easiest start to the season for this Leeds side, but they can take heart in their performances today. It may go down as a 3-0 defeat on paper, but for much of the match it certainly didn’t look like one from the side-lines.
Featured Image: The Gryphon