Blues 3-0 Oxford University (25-8, 25-15, 25-21)
Kelsey Kerridge, 24/11/2001
A dominant performance from Cambridge Men's volleyball team saw them demolish old rivals Oxford in straight sets at Kelsey Kerridge Sports Hall on Saturday. In front of a vociferous home crowd bolstered by the University basketball team, the Light Blues made sure the match was business as usual as they won in little more than an hour and only 50 minutes' of actual play, a feat they managed three times last season. Although the match duration was slightly longer than Cambridge's record quickest victory, the margin of victory in the first set and overall points tally were records for a Cambridge-Oxford fixture.
Taking to the court buoyed by Cambridge women's superb 3-2 win in the preceding match, the Light Blues were in confident mood in the hitting warm-up. Oxford, meanwhile, suffered some ill-fortune as hitter Rudolph Glitz fell over one of his own players during the service warm-up and was unable to start. Although he did appear later, he was clearly suffering some discomfort from his wrist and was below usual form. The Dark Blues had some new faces in their squad, but Cambridge had a full-strength unit and were determined to avenge October's first-match loss.
Coach Dr Richard White sent out Roger Konrad at the plate with Dan Roy opposite, Dan Escott and Soren Koeppe in the middle, Andy Lynn and Pierre Briguet-Lamarre at the swings and Denis Zuev as libero. Oxford served first and took the opening point, however the Light Blues then secured the side-out and Pierre Briguet-Lamarre took the ball to serve. Two Oxford time-outs and nine jump serves later, he was still there at 10-1; the visitors were powerless in the face of his high velocity spin service, whilst Cambridge's defence and transition hitting were unstoppable. Although Oxford finally managed to side-out, the Light Blues were just as dominant in subsequent rotations behind forceful blocking from Koeppe and Escott and devastating hitting from Dan Roy, Briguet-Lamarre and Andy Lynn (who made kills on every attempt during set one). The game ended 25-8, comfortably Oxford's heaviest reverse since the introduction of the rally points system, and went only slightly past one complete rotation.
Although Ken Kato and Jean Jacquet had been brought on during the opening game, coach White surprised no-one by sending out the same starters for set two. Oxford now brought in Glitz, and showed some improvement on their first set-performance; this time they won the opening two points and lost only the next five points during Briguet-Lamarre's time at service. The Light Blues maintained their dominance thereafter, with Roger Konrad setting a superb game as he kept all of Cambridge's hitters interested. Escott and Koeppe combined for an error-free performance on the 1-tempo attack, and the home side's well-set block provided an obstacle Oxford were never able to surmount. Time-outs from the visitors at 3-9 and 7-16 failed to disrupt Cambridge as they romped to a 25-15 result and a two-set advantage.
An unchanged Light Blues line-up began game three, and saw Oxford finally manage to side-out immediately from Briguet-Lamarre's serve. The Dark Blues had mixed players around to improve their hitherto ineffective opposite attack, but were still little match for Cambridge's defence and transition game. Oxford's quick hitters struggled against superior blocking tactics from the home side, and Dan Escott had the bench on their feet with a solo block on Rudenko which sent the ball down on the one-inch line. Although Dan Roy was having a rare off-day, and Lynn finally started to make the occasional hitting error, the Light Blues established a comfortable 17-13 lead. Oxford managed to narrow the advantage, but the home side were not to be denied and the entire team joined in some whole-hearted celebrations as victory was secured 25-21.
Coach White was understandably pleased with the result. "This was a fine performance. We've known all season that we have a team of outstanding individuals, but only infrequently have they played well together as a team. Today we showed just how strong we are becoming as the side's cohesion and team spirit grows. Actually we didn't pass particularly well, but we're running a much faster and more varied offence than in earlier matches, and Oxford simply couldn't handle it. We knew that the early season loss to them was merely a result of us having no match practice together, and it was pleasing to be able to show them this in such a conclusive manner."
Andy Lynn took the MVP award with 16 points, and broke the University record for attacking by an outside hitter with his 83% kill percentage. Pierre Briguet added 13 points, and with six more aces is fast approaching Roger Martinez's season record. Cambridge's next competitive outing is Saturday 1st December, when they travel to Leeds for the qualifying round of the EVA Student Cup.
Report by Richard White
|Name||Position||Sets Played||Attacks||Kills||Kill Percent||Aces||Blocks||Total Points|