Newcastle Volleyball 1’s season has been superb thus far, with the team occupying a commanding position at the top of the Northern 1A League. On Wednesday, they came up against Liverpool 1’s, who Newcastle had beaten 3-0 in the away fixture last year. A look at the BUCS table suggested that Newcastle would dominate the game and that was largely true, with Newcastle earning a 3-0 win to continue their run of good form.
Newcastle wasted no time as the game started, soon racing into a 10-2 lead by firing some stinging efforts over the net that Liverpool struggled to match. Newcastle were definitely the more composed of the two sides, recovering impressively from Liverpool shots that weaker teams might have been unable to salvage.
The gap between the sides became increasingly evident as the first game went on, and Newcastle’s lead was soon at 16-3. Patterson began to show his quality, mustering a powerful serve that Liverpool’s Olabode could not contain. Liverpool did their best to plug away at Newcastle’s lead, but they were undoubtedly second best to their table-topping opponents. After a resounding performance, Newcastle took the first game 25-12, a score that suggested a whitewash was on the cards for the away side.
The second game started as the first ended, with Newcastle getting points on the board courtesy of Janiunas. The first game had seen something of a chasm develop between the two sides, with Newcastle picking up points in tight situations whereas Liverpool seemed to struggle when the game got more frenetic. This game, however, was closer, with a tight 7-5 lead for Newcastle suggesting that Liverpool had tightened their game up. Pepe Bean managed a superb recovery that Yang Lee capitalised on to earn another point, but the game was still tight, with Newcastle’s lead being a slender 10-8.
Newcastle were doing their best to pull away by sending a couple of scorching hits that probably would’ve broken my hand, but these were interspersed with some inaccurate efforts that left the game evenly poised at 15-14. After a brief timeout, and with the coach’s words ringing in their ears, Newcastle began to show the quality that had won them the first game, extending into a 21-16 lead. Liverpool deserve some credit for a fighting performance, but ultimately succumbed 25-19, leaving Newcastle in the driving seat.
At this point, with Newcastle having enough players to field 2 teams and Liverpool having no substitutes to make, the away side’s fatigue should have had an impact on proceedings. However, the opposite seemed true at very beginning of the third game, with Liverpool taking a 8-6 lead aided by avoidable Newcastle errors. Despite Liverpool doing well to take the lead it didn’t last long, and ultimately their exertions began to take their toll, with Newcastle soon holding a 16-10 lead that they didn’t seem likely to relinquish.
Commendably, Liverpool refused to roll over and accept defeat, and having clawed the deficit back to just 19-16 there was the slightest danger that they might force a fourth game. Yet, just as that danger presented itself, Newcastle once again replicated their dominance of the first game. The game finally reached its conclusion with Newcastle winning 25-19, earning the home side a deserved 3-0 win. Their status as league leaders was further cemented by another well-earned victory, sending out a message to other sides that they do not intend to allow themselves to be ousted at the top.