Ashcombe Avoid Black Hole and Progress To National Quarter Final
Volleyball England National Cup 3rd Round
Sunday 1st December
Darkstar Derbyshire vs Ashcombe Dorking
Ashcombe won 3 – 2 (23-25, 18-25, 25-20, 25-18, 16-14)
Ashcombe Dorking progressed through to the quarter finals of the National Cup in a five set thriller which showcased the sport of Women’s Volleyball.
National League Division Three side Darkstar might have been the underdogs but played with true grit and determination to win the first couple of sets and then have three match points in the final set. It is true testament to the Dorking-based side that they held their nerve and won through against such worthy and determined opposition.
The Derbyshire team started the match in confident manner, putting the Ashcombe defence under immediate and intense pressure. The experience of Michelle Conway and Captain Carol Fogarty was called upon to steady the Ashcombe team as the score raced to 14 – 9 to the underdogs. Sensing a chink in the Surrey armour, Darkstar’s hitters relentlessly found their targets as the set closed at 25 – 23.
Ashcombe came out fighting in the second set with excellent serving from Fogarty being backed up with good defensive work from Agnes Abraham and Claire Greenwood. Everything they did however was equalled by Darkstar who refused to yield the advantage as the set weaved to and fro in a frenzied battle at which Darkstar claimed the spoils of victory.
An upset now appeared distinctly possible but Ashcombe regrouped and found a level of intensity and focus which had previously deserted them. Karen Rossi served with venom and precision, whilst Monika Gmuca and Charlie Thomas defended superbly. Self-belief returned to the Surrey team as they played convincing volleyball to win the set and reduce the arrears.
With confidence high, Ashcombe asked questions of the Darkstar defence in set four as Conway, Abraham and Gmuca launched a full-on assault, ably assisted by the excellent Greenwood and with perfect setting from Rossi and Fogarty. Darkstar fought bravely but to no avail as the set was won by Ashcombe 25 – 18.
The final set in volleyball only goes to 15 points and Conway got Ashcombe off to an excellent start. Darkstar however regrouped and launched an effective counter-attack, taking them to 11 -7 and then 14 – 11. Three match points to the Derbyshire team were fought off valiantly by Ashcombe. The hardest point to win in sport is always the last and Ashcombe’s nerves of steel carried them through as they won 5 consecutive points to claim the set 16 – 14 and, with it, the match.
Head Coach Luke Thomas reflected on a hard fought victory with pride.
”Winning a game from two-zero down is a very difficult challenge, especially when you are in that position through your own poor play. It would have been very easy for us to have given up and lost and so I am particularly pleased with the way in which we battled on and were able to take some control back to win the game. We were without a number of key players and this put us further out of our comfort zone, we needed those first two sets to get organised and establish how we were to go about the game.
It was by no means a pretty game of volleyball, far from it, but it was a win and it was hard earned. After a very difficult start to the season this team needs to start to realise that it can be successful, I hope that this game can start to demonstrate that and we can start to approach games with more confidence and belief in what we are capable of. We have a number of players who are inexperienced at this level but they are working hard and starting to make an impact on the game. I have every confidence in this team, they are grafters and they don’t give up easily, this last game shows that.”
Ashcombe Super 8 Team Manager, Robin Martin, praised Darkstar’s energy and resilience and congratulated his own squad, all of whom played valuable roles in a memorable victory.
Ashcombe Dorking: C Fogarty (Capt), M Conway, C Thomas, K Rossi, C Greenwood, M Gmuca and A Abraham.