Newcastle made short work of a tame York St John side in a convincing 3-0 win. After two walkovers on the bounce, the Newcastle Royals were relieved to be finally able to play a match.
To avoid any rustiness, Nathan Fullerton was drafted in to DJ during the warm-up. If John Cena isn’t enough to motivate a team for a BUCS Northern Conference Cup match then I don’t know what is. Newcastle received the first serve of the game and quickly won the point. That was followed by five consecutive points scored from Guglielmo Cultrera serves that York couldn’t handle.
In response to two points scored by York, Raphael Pontes leapt to score a winner and then fired over two aces. This prompted Newcastle into their groove, with Pablo Fernando Del Hierro Cadena setting regularly for his teammates to spike.
“To avoid any rustiness, Nathan Fullerton was drafted in to DJ… If John Cena isn’t enough to motivate a team… then I don’t what is”
The Royals were also impressive at the net, with offensive blocks from Cultrera, Ryan Dearden and Pontes helping stretch their lead further. Thomas Catapano came off the bench for Pontes and, after being blocked at the first attempt, was set up by Number 1 Del Hierro Cadena to score his first point of the match. The setter then plated up two chances that Dearden and Catapano finished off to wrap up the first set, 25-17.
Marek Grzesiowski kicked off the second set for York but his serve didn’t make it past the net. Jen Zhou Chin then opened the scoring for the set after a dime from Del Hierro Cadena. Even libero Adarsh Rai got in on the act, scoring direct from a return.
The next four points were scored by Pontes, all of which set up by the Royals’ Number 1. Then, after rotating to the back of the court, served two aces before being withdrawn for Maks Marzec whilst Del Hierro Cadena was replaced by Marios Moskofidis, whose first involvement was to place the ball up for Gian Montevecchi to spike over.
The new setter put two winners on a plate for Cultrera, who then extended the lead with two well-placed serves that the opposition couldn’t return. Although York won the next point, their poor service rounded off the set with Newcastle coming out as 25-14 victors.
The Royals set off in the third set like they had a train to catch, racing into an 8-0 lead, including a blindingly powerful spike from Marzec and the touch of a feather from Pontes to help the ball over the net.
“The Royals set off in the third set like they had a train to catch, racing into an 8-0 lead”
Continuing his fine form, Cultrera spiked over from a Rai dig and a Moskofidis set. Winners from Marzec, Catapano and two from Dearden drew Newcastle closer to clinching the third set. Del Hierro Cadena returned to the court and set up four more, including a well-improvised spike from Chin.
Once Catapano had punished York for some more sloppy handwork, Piotr Banaszek hit an ace for his first point of the evening. The game was wrapped up by usual-provider Del Hierro Cadena. For his first he touched over a Marzec set, and finished the game with a spike after a Rai dig was plated up for him by Ryan Dearden.
The post-match debrief was simple. Quite rightly, the coach identified that Newcastle were the better side but need to work on the basics when against such inferior opposition. He added that so long as the team start strong then they can control the game.
“Newcastle could well have wrapped up the match a lot earlier if they had just kept their plays simple, since ‘winners’ weren’t necessary to score points against this calibre of opposition”
From my point of view, there was plenty of evidence to show that Newcastle were the significantly better side. Winners from the York St John side can be counted on one hand, so the vast majority of their points were from Newcastle errors.
Newcastle could well have wrapped up the match a lot earlier if they had just kept their plays simple, since ‘winners’ weren’t necessary to score points against this calibre of opposition. Having said that, it’s important for the team to practice the skills and drills that will be used against the harder sides.
With this win, Newcastle are through to the Quarter Finals of the Northern Conference Cup, and will play either Edge Hill or Keele in that tie. Next week, the lads play top of the table University of York in a hotly-anticipated encounter. York came out as 3-1 winners when the sides faced in October, so Newcastle will be looking to get some payback.