Leeds were left to rue a slow start against Hull in this Northern 3B match, as the away side won in straight sets at the Gryphon Sports Centre on Wednesday evening. However, this was a match which could have gone either way, with the home side showing that they should hope to improve on their current league position.
Hull started much brighter than Leeds, winning the first five points before good work at the net earned Leeds their first point of the set. Two missed serves in a row gave each side a point, before good pressure from Hull put them into a 12-2 lead, despite good play at the net from Bethany Whitehead. Leeds began to play better towards the end of the first set, before Hull put in some good serves, striking the ball just above the net to take control of the points. It was obvious which team was third in the league and which was eighth, with Hull taking the first set comfortably 25-8.
The second set started much more even, with Hull winning a long rally for an early 2-1 lead. Both sides seem to struggle with serving at the start of this set, which helped Leeds tie the scores, with a great smash by Lara Hudson keeping the scores level. A shot off the net cord helped give Hull a tiny advantage, putting them three points ahead, before a great ground hit by Pieria Protopapa put the home side back on level terms. Miscommunication gave Hull some more breathing space, before Lara Se utilised her height brilliantly, with a great block at the net putting Leeds back within one. With the scores at 23-22 to the away team, Hull put in two good plays at the net, to take the second set 25-22, and leaving a second successive win for Leeds looking like an impossible task.
Two aces by Se gave Leeds the early lead in the third set, before Hull took six of the next seven points, as they looked to end the set as quickly as possible, taking advantage of a Leeds side who appeared to sense that the set was beyond them. A series of fantastic team plays gave the home team four points in a row, helping to bring the scores level again at 12-12. With Hull finding the corners with the majority of their serves, it was hard for Leeds to gain any momentum for the remainder of the set, with a net cord giving Hull the third set 25-20, ensuring that they went back down the M62 with all three points.
While the scoreline gave the impression of a one sided set, Leeds were more than a match for Hull during periods of the second and third sets, with a few lucky deflections arguably being the difference in both sets. With only three fixtures left, and with no relegation worries, Leeds will be able to enjoy the final few matches, and hopefully convert some of their good teamwork into victories, starting with a trip to Sheffield next week.
Featured Image: University of Leeds