By Jack Parkes
When Mary’s fell to a devastating 25-3 defeat in the first set of this match, the script already seemed to be written. Not least because only half of the team had ever played volleyball before!
Yet, this plucky Durham side was undeterred at the end of a disastrous opening set. As one of the players optimistically said as they swapped sides: “at least we know the rules now.”
This high spirits certainly transmitted into the second set performance. Chopkowski served impressively to secure a string of hard-earned points and Megan Frogley made a nuisance of herself at the net throughout the set, setting up smashes for her teammates at every opportunity. Despite a notable improvement, however, Wentworth were again too strong for the Durham side.
They linked up consistently and had numerous routines that they dispatched with ease, which proved difficult for Mary’s to deal with. Regardless of this, the respectable score of 25-13 reflected a vast improvement.
The third set was more impressive still. Gone were the instances when the Mary’s faction cheered for the ball merely crossing the net. The Durham side were winning points aplenty as they pushed hard for a consolation set. Captain Scott Reid led from the front with some commanding smashes while Danny Lewson teased the York frontline with a couple of devastatingly effective drop shots.
Henry Ivall was also able to force mistakes from York which was a previously impossible task only two sets earlier. At the match wore on, Mary’s height advantage began causing real issues for the vertically challenged Wentworth side as the Durham outfit started competing at the net and getting fingertips to the ball ahead of their opposition.
Although this set also ended in defeat, the score of 25-18 was more than respectable and this was reflected in Reid’s post-match optimism. He said: “We’re quite pleased. We gave them a good run for their money and I think everyone’s proud.”
Photograph: Rob Law