Blues 2-0 Loughborough University (25-16, 25-18)
In the end, it was barely a contest. But it was still, according to BUSA President Lenny Barry "one of the finest volleyball matches seen in this country for years". Whatever heights Cambridge had reached previously were surpassed as to a man they turned in an almost flawless performance. Loughborough were at full strength, with Dave Lovell leading the team at outside after having missed the Student Cup final through injury, and can hardly have been more motivated after finishing runners-up in the previous two BUSA competitions. And the home side turned in their usual awesome display of individual and team defence; but the onslaught from Cambridge was relentless as they secured the first EVA/BUSA double in eleven years with a crushing victory.
The first point set the tone for the match. Coach White had exhorted his players to break their habit of starting badly against Loughborough, and the response was stunning. A deep float service from Konrad was overpassed by Shillabeer, and opposite Dan Roy hammered the ball down to send the crowd wild. The next serve saw another poor pass force Loughborough to set Shillabeer on the outside, and Roy and Escott combined for the block. The Midlanders fell to 3-7, but strong outside hitting saw them claw back to 6-7 before Cambridge moved up to another level. The Blues' service game prevented Loughborough setter Rowlands from using his dangerous quick attackers, and Cambridge's block and defence on the outside attacks was outstanding as they won point after point in transition, with Andy Lynn hitting the ball at fearsome speed. The home side called time-outs at 9-13 and 10-17, but although they were making numerous heroic digs to keep the ball alive, these were merely preludes to a kill from the Blues on the ensuing attack. Dan Roy turned in the performance of his season as one rally saw him both impassable and unstoppable; the American first blocked the Loughborough quick attack, only for the ball to be recycled to the outside, but he was waiting to block the ball again. Cambridge then got the ball into transition, and Konrad set reverse to his opposite hitter; taking off on one foot to reach the set, Roy hammered a hard angle shot for the kill. Andy Lynn then took his turn in the limelight with a service ace of such ferocity that it deflected off the arms of the receiver into the roof of the arena. But Pierre Briguet-Lamarre was not to be outdone by this display, as he served up an ace of his own before making a kill from the outside to give Cambridge game one by a remarkable 25-16 margin.
Loughborough started game two strongly, however transition kills from Briguet-Lamarre after good serving from Konrad and heroic digging from Zuev gave the Blues a slim lead. This was stretched to a convincing advantage as, with Escott at the line, Cambridge's front row blocked each of the Loughborough hitters in turn in the space of just four points. First Jean Jacquet stuffed Garcia's quick attack; a play later opposite Pennock didn't get his tip shot quite high enough, and Andy Lynn hung in the air just long enough to slap the ball down. The home side called time-out down 8-4, but to no avail; Rowlands set Shillabeer on the next play, only for Dan Roy to solo block the outside hitter straight down for the third time in the match. To their credit Loughborough still did not give up as they pursued everything in the back row, but Cambridge sided-out at will as Briguet-Lamarre embarked on a run of seven kills from eight attempts in the game. One of these was a stunning line shot which grounded on the ten-foot line, and with the defence set deep for the expected power spikes, Andy Lynn was then able to crush Loughborough morale with two kills on off-speed shots out of the pipe. Taking the ball himself, he then sent down successive aces - the second an unplayable ball which landed within a foot of the baseline - as the Cambridge supporters filled the hall with their cheers. The lead was simply too great for Loughborough to pull back, and victory was completed as Pierre Briguet-Lamarre found the floor with a great seam shot to win the game 25-18, upon which he ran around the court with the bellowing hordes of the Cambridge squad in pursuit. All that remained was for the squad to throw coach White up and down (they caught him again, thankfully) and drench him with the contents of all the remaining drinks bottles, before the formal presentation of medals and the trophy and title of BUSA Champions 2002.
Report by Richard White
|Name||Position||Sets Played||Attacks||Kills||Kill Percent||Aces||Blocks||Total Points|