Women's Weekend Review: Pace Setters
17th October 2017
The latest action from the Women's game, outside of the Super 8s...Rememer to check out the Men's Weekend Review too.
Women’s Division 1
Sheffield Hallam look set to be challenging for back to back promotions. Having won the Division 2 North last year, Hallam are proving winning is a habit as they won two games at the weekend. They sit top of the pile with a perfect record from three games.
On Saturday, they beat Bristol VC 3-1. Hallam controlled the opening two sets, winning them both to 16 and 20. A spirited showing from Bristol saw them pull a set back but this seemed to stir something in Hallam. Frustrated not to have wrapped the match up in three, Hallam overawed Bristol in the fourth, winning it to just seven points.
The following day, Hallam ensured Team Essex Trinity began the season with a defeat and that they didn’t drop a set. While Trinity fought hard, they couldn’t match Hallam’s quality to take any of the sets to the business end of proceedings. Hallam came through to 17, 16 and 19 and now sit in a familiar position, top of the league.
Cambridge VC and Anglia Ruskin University maintained a perfect record of their own sealing a second straight win against Herts VC. Having been promoted from the second tier south last season, Cambridge have made a great start to life in the first division. Herts finished second bottom last year so when they took the first set of the match would have thought it would signal a change of fortunes. Cambridge took control though to win the next three to 21, 22 and 20.
Elsewhere, Bristol VC 1, who finished fourth in the division last year, overcome Team South Wales in a five-setter. Team South Wales, who were relegated from the Super 8s last season, won the first set and had lead 2-1 before they were overhauled by Bristol. The home side levelled the match in the fourth to 15 and had the momentum going into the decider. They won the fifth to 9 points to take the lead and the match.
Women’s Division 2 North
After promotion from the third tier, University of Nottingham Volleyball Women have made a blistering start to life in Division 2 North. The weekend saw them notch two more wins, to make it five straight victories without even dropping a set.
On Saturday they defeated Leeds RGA VC, who had pipped Nottingham to the Div 3 North title last year. The teams had beaten each other once last year in close encounters but Nottingham dominated this meeting. They took the opening set to 21 and got better as the match went on, winning the next two to 18 and 17.
Sunday saw Nottingham condemn Newcastle Staffs to their fourth straight defeat. Staffs couldn’t cope with their in-form opponents and Nottingham won it in three sets to 14, 8 and 20. Nottingham’s record is the most impressive in the whole of the NVL and they will take some beating this year.
Newcastle Staffs have not been in good form and had already been downed by Manchester Marvels on the Saturday. Staffs would have been hopeful after winning the first set but Marvels were not to be denied and defeated the side they finished one place above last year by winning the next three (to 13, 17 and 22).
Tameside finished second in the league last season and are already up to that lofty position in this campaign. They got a second win of the season against Team Sunderland in straight sets to 17,21, and 18. Sunderland finished on the same points as Tameside last year, so this was an impressive victory.
Coventry and Warwick Riga opened their season with a win over Telford Ladies. Coventry finished mid-table last year, while Telford are stepping up following promotion.
Despite having less match practice, Coventry controlled the match. The first set was sealed to 14 and followed by set victories to 16 and 21.
Women’s Division 2 South
London Inter Women are another of the NVL sides that are thriving following a promotion. They won a third tier title last year and have carried on with their excellent form. They won their third game on the trot to take top spot in the league. It will be even sweeter as they had to call upon all their reserves of character to get the win.
Facing Dartford Ladies, London were squeezed out of the first set 27-25. The second set went the way of Dartford too to 18 points. It looked as if London would experience the rare taste of defeat but showed superb heart. They responded by winning the next two sets to 19 points. Then as the best sides do, when London sensed victory they didn’t miss the opportunity. In the decider, they battled to a 15-12 win.
Bristol VC 2 kept up an unbeaten record of their own with a 3-1 win over South Hants. It was a second straight victory for Bristol who won the first two sets. South Hants reduced their arrears but couldn’t get back in the black, as Bristol won the fourth.
It as a mixed weekend for Sussex Dolphin, who finished runners-up to London Inter Women in the third tier last year. The Dolphins got their first win against Cardiff Falcons, who are finding it much more difficult after stepping up from the third tier. It was a brilliant battle with Falcons leading two sets to one. The Dolphins squared it though at 2-2 and the Falcons seemed to have run out of steam. Sussex won the fifth set to just four points.
Reading Aces, who looked to be one of the strongest sides in the division, beat the Dolphins 3-1. After sharing the opening sets, the Aces put stamped their authority on the game to dominate the next two sets, winning to 14 and 15 to seal the match and move up to third in the league.
Women’s Division 3 North
Hull Thunder surged into second place in the league with two victories in a triangle of matches which saw them take on York Falcons and Manchester Marvels 2. The Thunder brushed aside the Marvels in three to 16, 12 and 16.
A match up against the undefeated Falcons looked a much tougher prospect. The Falcons finished third in the league last year and look to be one of the contenders for the title this year. When Hull lost the first set you could be forgiven for thinking York were going to continue their winning streak. However, Hull responded with renewed vigour. They levelled the match and then went in front winning the third to 17 points. Falcons came back but Hull were not to be denied and didn’t let victory out their grasp and edged the third 27-25 to take the spoils.
Falcons also overpowered Manchester Marvels 2 in straight sets to 9, 9 and 13 and keep top spot above Hull on points scored.
Wirral Wasps have taken third position in the table with back to back victories of their own at the weekend. They faced Haughton Darlington and Chester Amazons in a triangle of fixtures. The Wasps defeated Chester in straight sets in what was a tight contest. Wirral won the first set to 23 and again found a way to win in the second taking that to 24 points. The game was sealed with a victory in the third to 20 points.
Wirral dominated the contest against Darlington, though they did drop a set. Wasps won the first set to just ten points but surprisingly, Darlington levelled in the next set. Wasps snuffed out any hopes of a comeback resuming total control, winning the final two sets to 11 and 19.
Chester Amazons took their battling form into the game against Darlington and recorded a straight sets victory.
The final triangle of games saw Sheffield Honeybees, Leeds RGA Panthers, and Team Sunderland 2 go head to head in all their first games of the season. It was the Honeybees that made the perfect start. They overcame Sunderland in three in a comfortable fashion to 19, 18 and 21.
Sheffield’s Yorkshire derby against Leeds RGA Panthers proved much tougher. Having twice taken the lead, the Honeybees were constantly pegged back by their opponents. The match came down to a deciding set which saw the Honeybees prevail 15-11.
It was double heartbreak for Leeds as they faced Sunderland and lost that in five sets too. This time they found themselves two sets down, only to recover to level the match. Sunderland were in no mood for a dramatic comeback and denied a dramatic turnaround to also defeat Leeds 15-11 in the decider.
Women’s Division 3 Central
There were two triangle of matches this weekend, with a few teams getting their seasons underway. Norwich Spikers, Peterborough Harriers Ladies, and RAF Hawks all faced off. Spikers were making the season debut and seize the chance to set the pace in the division.
They made life very difficult for RAF Hawks, making short work of the match winning in three to just 8, 10, and 6. Peterborough, who were also making their season bow, provided sterner opposition but couldn’t halt the Spikers. Norwich again won in three sets and climbed to the summit of the league.
RAF Hawks were much improved against Peterborough and won the opening set. The Hawks couldn’t keep up that form though and the Harriers fought back to level. The third set seemed to be the defining point of the match. It was a tight affair of which Harriers came out on top, winning it 29-27. That gave Harriers the upper hand and they didn’t relent. They took the the fourth set 25-22 to take the match.
Ashfield Vipers, Northampton and Tamworth Spartans also battled it out. Like Norwich Spikers, Northampton opened their campaign with back to back wins. The Vipers were tamed in three sets to 19, 19 and 15.
Northampton against Tamworth was an epic encounter. Tamworth took the first set, only for Northampton to edge the second 27-22. Northampton kept up that form to take the lead 2-1. Spartans were not prepared to give it up and won the fourth to 21 points to take it to the fifth. There was hardly anything to separate the teams again but Northampton just had the better of the fine margins to win the set 15-12 and take the victory.
Tamworth registered their first win of the league season in style over Ashfield and leap frog them into fourth in the table. The Spartans controlled each set to win the match in three to 17,17 and 14.
Women’s Division 3 South East
The division got under way with each team playing two fixtures at the weekend, in three triangles of matches.
Southampton Women 2, Portsmouth and Sussex Dolphins played each other. Southampton dominated by their games to claim two victories. The Dolphins defeated Portsmouth to get a win.
Dulwich Tuskers, Richmond VB and Team Essex Ladies faced off with the Tuskers taking the spoils. They won both their game in straight sets to head into the leading pack of teams in the league. Richmond headed into the middle of the pack by beating Essex, also in straight sets.
It was a similar outcome in the final tri-series of games which saw Ashcombe Dorking 2, Maidstone and Ipswich Ladies battle it out. Ipswich Ladies headed into the top three with two hard-fought wins. A remarkable recovery from two sets down saw them defeat Ashcombe in a five-setter. The deciding set was won 15-6.
Ipswich had to show resilience as they downed Maidstone too. A set up, Maidstone levelled the match but Ipswich still took the next two and the match.
Ashcombe defeated Maidstone in their game in a straight sets victory.
Women’s Division 3 South West
Yeovil won their opening two games of the season as they beat Plymouth Mayflower and Team Bristol. It was easy though as Mayflower took them to the full five sets.
Though it was Mayflower who made Yeovil work harder for their victory, it was Bristol who defeated Mayflower in their game.
In the other triangle of games, Cardiff Celts Ladies, City of Bristol Ladies and Wesses W2 played each other. City of Bristol took two victories, with a dominant three-set win over Wessex and an incredible fightback against Cardiff. The Celts had lead two sets to nil, but Bristol battled back to win the next three.
The Celts did get a victory this weekend though, defeating Wessex in straight sets.
With all teams having played two matches, the league is evenly split into a top, middle and bottom three. But who will emerge from those packs to have successful seasons?
Team of the week: University of Nottingham Volleyball Women. Two more victories to make the best start of any of the NVL Teams. Five victories without dropping a set. Very impressive stuff – can anyone stop them sealing another promotion?
For the league tables, click here.