Hull Thunder got their season off to the perfect start with a 3 -0 demolition of Manchester University in the National Cup. In their first competitive game, after a gruelling pre-season with newly appointed head coach Ben Pipes, the Thunder looked supremely confident as they took to the court at the Thunder Dome Arena and it seems as though they had reason to be.
Thunder raced into the lead with the score 8-4 at the first technical time out. Solid defensive work from G. Lowe set the tone for the evening and provided a platform for the home side to showcase their attacking prowess. The students from Manchester looked shell-shocked as the Thunder powered in relentless attacks to which they had no answer. R. Kammer and C. Barker proved to be the pick of the hitters as Hull took the first set 25-11.
It was more of the same in the second. Hull were rarely troubled by any meaningful attacks from Manchester, but on the occasions that they managed to muster an offense, the students found P. Hewitt in fine form. Strong net play and well-timed blocking from the youngster was key in discouraging Manchester further. Defensive solidity and some well-timed magic from Hull setter D. Foster, paved the way for new comers Oli and Alex to impress on the their debuts for the Thunder. Both showed great potential and will certainly be challenging for a starting spot throughout the season. Hull took the second set 25-14 and at this point victory looked like a formality.
However, as the third set began it quickly became apparent that the home team had taken their foot off the gas. The university side seemed to grow in confidence as the set wore on; they sensed a chance to sneak a set back. Trading point for point for much of the set put pressure on the hosts, as did some untimely service errors. Trailing 23-20, the Thunder unleashed a trio of lightening attacks to drag themselves level. On the penultimate point E. Todd rose highest with a perfectly timed block to put Hull within a point of round 2, before finishing the game with a crushing spike of his own.
Thunder blasts into round 2 of the cup were they’re expected to have a much sterner test in the form of Team Northumbria ‘B’. Manchester University…….you’ve been Thunderstruck!