Originally published by SportsByte on October 22nd 2013.
Sunderland City Predators Scott Hailes was delighted after a “great win” for the mens Volleyball team over Newcastle Staffs in a five-set thriller at CitySpace.
Sunderland gave away a two set lead and then came back from a four-point deficit in the final set to beat their Staffordshire opponents 3-2 (25-18, 25-21, 25-20, 25-18, 15-12).
And Hailes admits he thought the game was lost halfway through the final set.
He said: “At 8-4 down in the fifth set, when it’s first to 15, I was very pessimistic and I thought we were going to lose that to be completely honest.
“But it’s never over until it’s over.”
The Predators came into the game in high spirits having beaten South Birmingham VC, who are widely seen as the league favourites, in their last match.
Sunderland started poorly, finding themselves down by four points early in the first set, but once they took the lead at 11-10 they dominated a powerful Staffs side.
The second set was closer at 25-21 and served as a warning to Sunderland, as Newcastle edged a tense third set by 5. And, as heads began to drop, Newcastle romped to a seven-point win in the fourth set.
“I think we were just up for it in the first two sets that little bit more,” said Hailes. “And then Newcastle came back at us and they were much more up for it than we were. After going two sets up I think we kind of underestimated them a little bit in the third.
“They adapted to our game plan and their defence was amazing, as it always is. And, like they did in the first two sets, we started making the errors and they cut out making them.”
With the score at 8-4 in the final set, the two sides switched ends and received a quick team talk from their respective coaches. Sunderland’s fortunes soon changed, as they not only levelled the scores but took the lead and stormed to a 15-12 set win.
“Marek (Grzbyk) came up with some great serves,” said Hailes, “and we ended up three or four points up. It was all about that turnaround. In volleyball, you never really know what’s going to happen. It’s all about a game of runs. That serving run put us on a high really.”
Sunderland next face Loughborough Students on 16th November and are now 3rd in Mens Division 2 North, and Hailes is confident for the rest of the season.
“We’re looking good this year”, he said. “We’ve got a couple of new players who have been impressive in training, as well as some experienced players so it means we can rotate the squad a lot.
“There’s some very good teams in this league, it’s basically a shoot-out between a few teams. It’s all about who performs on the day.”