Women's Weekend Review: Cup Round One
9th October 2017
Women’s National Cup
Round one of the cup is always special. There is always a great story as league standings go out of the window and non-NVL teams get their chance to take the limelight. This weekend saw this year’s round one and it didn’t disappoint.
Rhinos St Phillips, from Cambridge, made it a memorable day as they defeated Dartford Ladies of the Women’s Division 2 South. Rhinos took control of the match in the first set, winning it to 17 points. The next two were a lot closer but Rhinos got over the line in both to take the tie in straight sets.
There must be something of the underdog spirit in the area as non-NVL team Cambridge University had already knocked out Team Essex Trinity last weekend in round one. The match was a five-set thriller with the Uni ladies twice taking the lead before being pegged back. At two all, the Cambridge ladies were determined not to let the chance of a NVL Division 1 scalp slip away, and edged the final set 15-13.
Another non-NVL team, University of London Union recorded an impressive victory over Sussex Dolphins of the Division Two South, winning 3-0 and restricting their opponents to less than 15 points in each sets.
Polonia IMKA also downed the Dulwich Tuskers of the third tier of the NVL by a 3-1 scoreline. Polonia have earned themselves a tie against London Pulsepoint Orcas as the Super 8s teams enter the competition in the next round.
It was a terrific showing from the non-NVL clubs as many other non-league teams struggled with the step up in class in their ties.
Wapping endured a miserable time as they faced Malory Eagles of Division One. One of the favourites for promotion to the Supers 8s, Malory never let up on Wapping, who only recorded 18 points in the whole match. University of Salford were despatched in similar style by Leeds RGA VC to 8, 12 and 5.
Sheffield University couldn’t keep pace with Division 1 opposition, as they lost in straight sets to City of Salford VC. Losing to 18 in the middle set was a heartening performance and will have valuable experience of what it takes to compete at a high level. Meanwhile, London Bears went down with a fight in their match but could never challenge London Inter Women, losing to 15, 15 and 16.
The UK Armed Forces and Wombourne both ran third tier opposition close. The Service Ladies lost to Richmond VB in three, but competed to the business end in each set. Wombourne, whose men had recorded a famous cup victory this weekend, couldn’t quite make it a double celebration as they lost to Nottingham Rockets. The Rockets had to work for it as they won to 22, 21 and 24. If Wombourne could have got a set on the board it could have been a different story.
The most heart-breaking result for all the non-NVL teams was for Leicester Athena. Taking on Ashfield Vipers of Division 3 Central, they looked set for a giant killing as they took the first two sets. The effort seemed to take a lot out of Athena as the Vipers won the next two sets convincingly. Athena regrouped though and fought tooth and nail in the deciding set. In the end, Ashfield completed an incredible comeback by edging over the line 18-16. Both teams can be immensely proud of their performance.
Reading Aces of Division Two South recorded a brilliant upset of their own, knocking out New Forest Ladies of Division One. While Southampton Volleyball Club 1 caught cup fever with an inspired a sensational performance. Two sets down to Ashcombe Dorking 1 from the higher tier, Southampton looked to be making a quick exit, but the story was far from over. They nicked the third set 27-25 to deny Ashcombe victory before levelling the match, winning the fourth to 17. Momentum was firmly with the Saints as the pair entered the decider and there was no stopping a brilliant turnaround. Southampton taking the set 15-8 and causing an upset.
Elsewhere the favourites did what was expected and secured a place in the next round. In an all Division 3 North clash, Hull Thunder defeated Team Sunderland.
Division Two sides Darkstar Derbyshire, Cardiff Falcons, Tameside, and Newcastle Staffs all made it through. The Staffs survived a scare as they had to come from 2-0 down against Lincoln Cannons. Sheffield Hallam of Division One had not such problems as they cruised home in three sets.
Round Two takes place in November and will see the Super 8s teams enter the fray. Meanwhile all of this week’s losing teams enter the shield competition.
NVL action (Not Super 8s)
There was only one game outside of the elite league, with the University of Nottingham beating Loughborough students in straight sets in the Women's Division 2 North.
Team of the Week: Rhinos St Phillips. There are lots of great candidates this week but the Rhinos straight sets win against Division 2 opposition gets the vote.