Blues 2-0 Manchester University (25-20, 25-17)
Although Ken Kato had shown exceptional form in recent matches and had started the Varsity game, Cambridge coach Dr Richard White sent out his EVA championship-winning line-up to begin the quest for the BUSA title. Thus Roger Konrad set with Dan Roy opposite, Andy Lynn and Pierre Briguet-Lamarre on the outside, Dan Escott and Jean Jacquet in the middle and Denis Zuev as libero. Manchester were very much an unknown quantity for the Blues' first match, and despite an extended warm-up session Cambridge were slow coming out of the blocks as the game began. The Northerners' star hitter, Italian Serie C player Simone Babuin proved a persistent threat out of the backrow, but a good run of serves from Jean Jacquet saw the Blues pull clear to take game one 25-20.
Although always too strong for Manchester, Cambridge were well below their usual form with Briguet-Lamarre and Jacquet uncommonly ineffective in attack. Coach White was forced into a time-out at 10-9, and brought on Soren Koeppe and Ken Kato before the match was finally secured 25-17. Koeppe provided a moment of mirth mid-set when White turned to the bench to ask him to warm up in readiness to take to the court, only to find that the middle blocker had wandered off to an adjacent court to chat up one of the Oxford ladies' team.
Cambridge were slated to referee the next match on court, and were delighted to find that Glasgow's defence of the BUSA title had been weakened by a fixture clash with a Scottish National Championship game which would see them lose two of their best players. Indeed, Birmingham opened their tournament by defeating the Scots without needing their own star player, Cypriot international Andreas Nikiforou, although ominously for the Blues he was due to appear for the Saturday matches. Both Cambridge teams were in fine form as they adjourned for a night out at a nearby curry house, with the ladies having put in an excellent performance to beat Edinburgh in a tiebreak set in their first game.
Report by Richard White
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