Last Saturday saw Naas Cobras Premier Women’s Volleyball team make a dream start to their 2013/ 2014 season in the National League.
They defeated old rivals and 2012/2013 champions Santry in an epic four set battle. The Cobras earned their first ever victory over Santry last season and judging from their latest performance they mean to continue on this winning habit. The Cobras enjoyed the support of a brilliant home crowd at the St. Mary’s College Naas sports hall and the attendees were treated to a spectacular display of volleyball from both sides.
The first set began positively for Naas as they received the very first point of the game. The Cobras pushed on from their never letting slip of their lead in the race to twenty five points. The Cobras displayed a united front with all six players stepping up to the plate in a cohesive manner sending Santry into chaos. Setter Kate Ryan directed her team with an array of diverse and technically brilliant sets. At 16-10 the Cobras seemed on course for an overwhelming victory but the resilient Santry narrowed the gap to 17-14. The Cobras resisted only losing three more points until the end of the set and it ended 25- 17.
Fired up and with everything to play for the second set saw the emergence of the real attacking power of Naas Cobras. Wing players Lisa Rohan and Claire Walsh consistently hammered balls onto the opponent’s court, unstoppable in their attack. The Cobras defence was under constant pressure from the Santry attack but under the leadership of libro Emily Ryan the Cobras absorbed the mounting pressure. Middles Debbie Murray and Aisling Clancy proved particularly potent through their blocking. Supporters were subjected to a nerve-wrecking few minutes as Santry crept closer to Naas. Eventually the Cobras secured the final point through a seemingly endless rally edging the set by the narrowest of margins at 25-23.
Despite having a 2-0 advantage going into the third set Naas started tentatively. Santry had gained obvious confidence from their late surge in the second set and were out for blood. The teams matched each other point for point in the early stages of the set but through a particularly brutal run of serving Santry took the lead leaving the Cobras to trying to claw back an eight point deficit. The gap proved too wide and Santry claimed set victory with a score of 19-25.
The Cobras now found themselves in an unfortunately familiar predicament. Last season’s first game saw them lose 3-2 after an initial two set lead. However the newly rejuvenated Naas side appeared unfazed by revious defeats. A focused, driven and determined squad stepped out onto court for the fourth set spurred on by words of encouragement and reassurance from the Cobras coaching staff consisting of head coach Marie Sheridan and assistant coach Orla O’Brien. Substitutes Sarah Benn and Karen Ben made an enormous impact in game play taking up position in the defence and also contributing enormously to the blocking effort. The Cobras hit Santry with every weapon from their arsenal yet Santry remained steadfast refusing to be sent into submission. As the set continued the Cobras had a minor lead hitting the 20 mark zone with only two points separating them from their opponents. However the twists in the tale were not yet finished when setter Kate Ryan pulled up with a calf injury. After a quick substitution Heather Clancy made her first appearance in the game adding to the air of incredible tension suspended in St. Mary’s. The Cobras rallied together with a super hit by Sharon Lee putting only one point between the Cobras and victory. Eventually after another long drawn out rally Naas finally emerged victorious. This victory indicates a positive and promising future for the coming season.
Naas Cobras Team:
Head Coach: Marie Sheridan, Assistant Coach: Orla O’ Brien.
Team: Kate Ryan, Emily Ryan, Sharon Lee, Lisa Rohan, Claire Walsh, Aisling Clancy, Debbie Murray, Karen Benn, Sarah Benn, Claire Treacy, Heather Clancy.