Originally published by SportsByte on October 28th 2012.
Sunderland City Predators Women powered to a straight set victory over RAF Hawks to maintain their 100% start to the season.
Sunderland beat Lincoln side Hawks 3-0 (25-10, 25-23, 25-19) to make it three wins out of three in Women’s Division 3 North.
Coach Scott Hailes took charge of the Predators for the first time and will have been delighted with their start, as Sunderland raced into a 18-6 lead after some well-organised attacks and costly Hawks mistakes.
Paule Steikunaite and Eve Porter were particularly potent in attack as Sunderland capitalised on the home side’s errors and came out on top of long-fought rallies.
Sunderland would go on to dominate the first set 25-10, and looked to be breezing through the game as they stormed into a 16-6 lead in the second set, following some clever play from Maria Spanou at the net and some stubborn defence from Hollie Patterson from the back of the court.
But lapses of concentration began to set in amongst the North East side and, within minutes, they found themselves just two ahead at 17-15.
The pace and intensity seen in the opening stages had dropped and Sunderland had let the Hawks back into the game but, once again, they battled and fought to eventually win a gruelling second set by two points.
With RAF Hawks making some poor errors, Sunderland were in complete control apart from a few mistakes of their own. A sloppy opening to the third set was eventually taken control of by Sunderland as they went ahead 24-14, before eventually sealing the win.
There were small periods which included lapses in concentration but Sunderland largely dominated, a fact that pleased Hailes:
“We were comfortable at times,” said the debutant coach. “But there’s work to be done as we were complacent at times. But, generally, I was quite impressed with everyone.”
Captain Abby Sowden was voted Most Valuable Player from the match and she was also pleased with the performance, saying: “It was good, everyone played well and it was a good team effort I thought.”
Following their third successive league win, both coach and captain were hugely optimistic for the season ahead, with both aiming for promotion from Division 3 North.
Hailes, who was delighted to be able to give the whole squad a good run-out against a poor Hawks side, said: “At the minute we’re three [wins] out of three [games] in the league and one out of one in the cup.
“They’ll be a couple of tough challenges in this league but, realistically, I want to be looking for promotion.”
Sowden said: “We haven’t lost a game yet so it’s looking good but we’ve got some big games coming up and there are also some teams that are new teams to the league so we don’t know what they’re going to be like, but we’re aiming for promotion.”
SportsByte’s Star player: In reality, the whole team were fantastic which makes it difficult to pick out a star player, but Paule Steikunaite was brave in defence and ruthless in attack to help guide Sunderland to a dominant win.