The Newcastle men’s volleyball team took on Leeds Beckett once more on Wednesday. The team, captained by Pablo Del Hierro Cadena, repeated their previous feat against the Leeds poly, winning in straight sets once again: (25-17, 25-23, 25-22) to retain their second place position in the Northern League table, leaving Leeds trailing behind in third.
Newcastle won the first set convincingly, “executing well what they’d practiced in training” according to coach, Callum Currie. A spike from Guglielmo Cultrera gave Newcastle their first point of the match, and strong offensive blocks by Gian Guido Montevecchi and Ben Miguel Wooding helped to keep the Poly at bay.
Clear instructions and set-ups by vocal captain Del Hierro Cadena allowed Newcastle to edge ahead for the first time, courtesy of a successful spike by Wooding. Several well co-ordinated attacks followed, for which Leeds had no answer, bringing the score to 12-9 in the Uni’s favour by the first break.
The Poly struggled on for the remainder of the set, but couldn’t quite match Newcastle. A perfectly timed drop shot from Rafael Pontes, set up by Cultrera, made it 19-15. The winning point coming after Leeds failed to return, gave Newcastle the set 25-17.
"Clear instructions and set-ups by vocal captain Del Hierro Cadena allowed Newcastle to edge ahead for the first time"
The following sets were not as comfortable for Newcastle, who didn't make things easy for themselves. This was partially aided by the sole, novice table official, who was left to valiantly juggle the responsibilities of both the scoreboard and an intimidatingly complicated scoresheet, accidentally hindering his own team by giving Newcastle’s points to the opposing side instead.
An effective drop shot by Leeds’ Connor Phelps at the start of the second set caught Newcastle off guard, and a spike by Vigre left the Uni trailing 2-1. This lead was not enjoyed by Leeds for long, however, as Newcastle began to slowly inch away from their rivals, courtesy of crafty handiwork by Chin Jen Zhou and a beautifully placed, powerful spike by Ryan Dearden.
But, the Poly weren’t going down without a fight, as they made Newcastle work hard to maintain their lead. Strong blocks by the toon keep them out of danger, and a moment of sheer brilliance by Wooding who, with such ease and calm, kicked what looked like an un-saveable spike back over the net to the bewilderment and disbelief of Leeds.
"Newcastle began to slowly inch away from their rivals, courtesy of crafty handiwork by Chin Jen Zhou and a beautifully placed, powerful spike by Ryan Dearden"
The third set was equally as tight, as both teams fought hard and countered the other’s efforts, keeping the score level for the majority of the set. It was tense on the sideline, as Newcastle, despite their athleticism and talent, failed to convert. It was only artfully placed spikes in the gaps in Leeds’ formation, set up by Del Hierro Cadena, that granted Newcastle the victory ahead of a late comeback by Leeds in the final moments of the set.
Coach Currie said that it was a “good game”, and that “there’s a lot more to come” from his team. Let’s hope they can replicate such success in their next match, as they prepare to take on the current leaders of the Northern Premier league, Northumbria, in Stan Calvert on the 2nd of February.