UEL women serve up Oxford scalp
- Credit: Archant
UEL 3 Oxford 0
The University of East London women’s volleyball first team began life under new coach Jefferson Williams with a comfortable victory over Oxford at SportsDock.
The home side went into the match in second place, three points off the top yet nine points ahead of their opponents Oxford in third.
And with only one defeat all season, at the hands of table-toppers Essex, UEL were in great shape to continue their push for the league title.
Oxford, who finished 2016 on the wrong end of a walkover, would close the gap on second place with a win but knew this would be a tough ask considering UEL’s performances thus far.
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UEL asserted their dominance from the off and took a 4-2 lead courtesy of Aubrie Cresswell’s tip over the net and a powerful spike from Krystyna Lyndovska.
Despite Oxford’s best efforts to find their feet, UEL gathered some momentum as the gap between the two sides continued to grow, with the hosts 13-6 to the good as captain Cara Olden hit a lethal spike plus a well-placed effort that just fell within the bounds, before Yvett Talas added her name to the scoresheet.
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UEL’s onslaught did not let up, as Lyndovska won a series of points which contributed significantly to them taking the first set 25-17.
With the second set came glimpses of an Oxford fightback, as they took a 4-3 lead in the opening exchanges.
Unfortunately for the visitors this was short-lived, as UEL wasted no time in reviving their first set dominance and surged into a 13-5 lead via a brilliant cross-court spike from Kelsey Blankerts and another Cresswell tip over the net.
UEL completed a succession of 11 straight points, before Oxford won back a point, and subsequently the serve.
But the remainder of the second set took a very similar path to that in the first, with UEL earning a healthy 22-13 lead as Blankerts, Cresswell and Olden added to their personal tallies, whilst Beth Gunter also got in on the scoring act.
Oxford showed good spells of play themselves but couldn’t prevent UEL taking the set 25-13 for a 2-0 lead after Cresswell’s smash was deflected out.
The visitors took the first point of the third set, but UEL sniffed the opportunity to complete a straight-sets rout and daylight began to emerge between the sides, with Talas and Lyndovska continuing to add points to the board.
Williams appeared most active on the sideline, perhaps eager to see the game out, but credit must be given to Oxford who were not going down easily. This was echoed by Deborah Malden, who produced a great block with UEL leading 8-7, but from 16-12, Blankerts, Olden, Lyndovska and Talas edged UEL closer to the magic 25 points needed to win the match.
Oxford were certainly making UEL work for the victory and continued to peg back points to try and reduce their deficit.
However, this was to no avail as an Oxford serve went long putting the score at 25-17 and giving UEL a 3-0 victory.
Having finished 2016 with a straight-set win, UEL’s new coach could not have hoped for a better start to his tenure in 2017.
UEL were impressive as a collective, but there were stand-out individual performances from the likes of Cresswell and Lyndovska.
UEL host Sussex next on Big Blue Wednesday, when students will celebrate the success of their sporting teams.