Blues 0-3 National Law Academy of Ukraine (18-25, 14-25, 14-25)
Athens, Greece, 03/07/2002
We played our first match today - eventually! Having scheduled training for 10am and a match for 6pm, the organisers told us late last night that we were actually playing at 10 this morning. Except that we and our opponents, Ukraine, arrived to find no referees and no balls. They did eventually turn up, at 12.30pm... and when we finished the game, we were told there was no running water and hence no showers (the outside temperature was around 34 degrees). The organisation of the tournament is generally pretty dire, God help the 2004 Olympics!
Ukraine, although badged as a Law Academy, are actually the main volleyball academy in the country. They fielded a whole team of professional players, including four junior internationals and two full internationals. Their setter weighed in at around 1.95m and the rest of the team were upwards of that, the tallest was 2.09m. We lost in three straight (18, 14, 14), but the Greek organisers were impressed that we had won any points at all against a team that are full professionals and the tournament favourites. Oddly enough Ukraine's superior block was not our downfall - us Cambridge boys are far too smart to hit straight into big blocks - but rather their service. All of their players were consistently able to jump serve at high velocity (judging from our video clips, easily 100+ km/h for their top server), and we lost 15 points on aces or service winners.
No-one in Britain serves that well! To give you some idea of Ukraine's strength, they are much stronger than that Russian side which played at Polonia against the English national side last summer (and whipped them).
The French and Greek sides (Montpellier, Athens) are also entirely made up of pro-league players, whilst the Netherlands team has no starter below 2m and is coached by Wim Koch (assistant coach on the 2000 Olympic team, and also a damn fine chap).
Report by Richard White
|Name||Position||Sets Played||Attacks||Kills||Kill Percent||Aces||Blocks||Total Points|