THE Sheffield-based Great Britain women’s volleyball team produced a historic victory to beat Algeria late on Monday night, writes Richard Fidler.
Featuring the city’s Rachel Laybourne, the squad has been supported by Sheffield business and organisations since having their funding cut.
However, the team is made of stern stuff and after a comprehensive defeat by Russia in their opening match they had targeted the Algeria game as a chance to take a step towards the quarter finals.
The African champions took the first set 25-22 but Great Britain responded to win the second 25-19.
A nail-biting third set was lost 25-23 before the home team forced a deciding set by taking the fourth 25-19.
Urged on by inspirational captain Lynne Beattie, who ended the night as the match’s highest point scorer with 19, Team GB surged into an early lead in the fifth set and hung on to take it 15-8.
Beattie said she was delighted that so many people had stayed up late to see her team claim victory. “Another of our aims was to inspire the nation, so it’s great that people were watching. The fans have been a huge part of it, they’ve been there to back us when we’ve been down,” she said.
Coach Audrey Cooper said: “It’s a really good win and we had to dig deep. It’s a historic win.”
Great Britain next play Italy on Wednesday, again at Earls Court, starting at 4.45pm.