The women’s volleyball first team took on Newcastle’s first team on Wednesday in the first round of the Premier North Playoffs. After winning the semi-final match, St Andrews will now face either Leeds or Coventry in the final round of the competition to see who will join Glasgow in their promotion to the Premier North division.
After losing the first set by only two points, the girls managed to win the next three consecutive sets with a victory of 3-1.
With the first set underway Newcastle were playing well going 3-0 up in the first few minutes. However, with their turn to serve they hit the ball out and gave away a point to St Andrews. Some good blocking from the Saints who couldn’t quite get the ball where they needed to and Newcastle managed to secure another two points. Another Newcastle ball played out – 5-2. A good set from the Saints but the spike goes beyond the back line of the court for a Newcastle point. Another good play from the Saints sees Newcastle struggling to return the ball. Despite managing to keep the ball off the ground the Saints couldn’t quite return the ball over the net.
Great play from both sides sees a rally continuing but a strong spike from Newcastle and the ball lands just within the lines of the court 10-3. Another excellent spike from St Andrews was blocked by Newcastle for their point. With Newcastle playing several serves and returns out, the Saints’ points were climbing. With the points gap sitting at only two points and the set coming to a close, a block and return from the Saints made it 23-22. Another spike from Newcastle lands out – 23-23. However, after a Saints spike lands out a final Newcastle point sees them win the set 25-23.
The second set begins, the complete opposite to the first with the Saints going three points up early on. A spike from Newcastle lands in open space on the Saints half of the court and as the Saints serve out Newcastle looked to close the points gap early on. A spike from Newcastle that appears to be landing out goes in and the two sides were tied on points once again. Miscommunication from the Saints as both players backed off the ball allowed for Newcastle to take an early lead. A failed spike and a Saints ball played out by Newcastle sees St Andrews regaining control of the game with the score at 9-4 to St Andrews. A lead which Saints maintain for the remainder of the set. With several mistakes on Newcastle’s side, the Saint’s lead increased to seven points with only two points needed for them to win the set. Another two attempts from Newcastle unable to be realised, the second not making it over the net and the Saints win the set 25-17.
The third set saw a deadlock for much of the set, with the lead of either side rarely increasing to more than two points. An early lead from Newcastle was quickly overturned by St Andrews and Newcastle appeared rattled, playing most of their shots out. With the Saints’ lead at five points, Newcastle began their comeback, earning four points where St Andrews could only earn two.
A strong rally maintained well by both sides. With the score climbing from 13-13 to 14-14 and then to 15-15 it seemed as though Parliament wasn’t the only place suffering a logjam. It wasn’t until it hit the 20-point mark that the Saints started to break away and climb to 24 points compared to Newcastle’s 21. The set was finished by a Saints serve being played out by Newcastle. St Andrews were a set ahead, the only thing standing between them and the final was one last set – win that and they were through. Lose, however and the final set would be the decider.
An intense final set saw ruthless Newcastle reluctant to let up. An early two-point lead maintained for the first half of the set and it seemed as though a fifth set would have to be played. However, some effective play from the Saints that Newcastle were struggling to return helped them to catch up on points as they hit double figures. Another great spike from St Andrews that Newcastle couldn’t quite get under to return gave St Andrews the lead at 11-10. Another three shots played out by Newcastle, the Saints lead increased to five points and the win was within their grasp.
Newcastle’s play started to get sloppy, it was clear the nerves were getting to them and St Andrews saw the points gap increase to nine points. With the score at 11-20 it seemed a St Andrews win was inevitable.
Once the score hit 17-23 Newcastle began to regain their form. One of their serves hit the net and St Andrews were a single point from victory. But while the Saints’ score remained at 24, Newcastle’s grew from 18 to 20 to 23 before St Andrews were able to gain that crucial last point.
The tension was palpable from both sides – while both needed the win it became a question of who wanted it more? The answer, St Andrews. A great set up from the Saints saw the ball played directly into space in the centre of the court. A close finish but at the end of the day the better team managed to secure the victory.
A 3-1 win for St Andrews and they have made it to the final round of the competition which will take place on 10 April where hopefully the girls can earn their well-deserved spot in the Premier North division for next season.