Blues 3-0 Nottingham Trent University (25-10, 25-8, 25-16)
Clifton Campus Sports Centre, 22/11/2006
Cambridge would travel to unknown quantity Nottingham Trent for their last away fixture of the year. Nottingham Trent, despite being newly promoted had beaten a (weakened) Oxford and forced a decider in their loss to Nottingham. Some confusion amoungst the women's team would find the Blues in a 15 seater minibus for only 8 people, but the ride was a comfortable one despite the unyielding rain. When Cambridge did arrive at the venue, they found their opponents without either referees or linesmen, although the scorers came well prepared, even having a protest form ready for their visitors!
After an international length warmup, the teams finally got underway, and Coach Jacquet, despite the unavailability of Zubko or Loebbert, would field of a team of first choice players with Meeder running through the middle with Neher, Chalupnik and Niederste-Ostholt at outside hitter, and Sarkozy (captain) hitting opposite setter Li. In familiar fashion Finely rounded out the side at libero. Cambridge would start out on fire, Li recording an ace on his service run which put the visitors ahead 5-0. The Cambridge attack was scoring from all positions, and the visitors would continue to expand their lead. Strong serving showed a dedication and focus which was lacking the week before at Oxford Brookes, and Trent could do nothing to stem the damage, conceding the set 25-10.
Cambridge showed their class in the second set, refusing to yield the offensive. Jacquet urged them to continue to apply pressure in moderation, rather than trying to hit the ball as hard as possible. Continue strong serving (nine aces in the total for the set) combined with a medley of combination players left Trent confused, although occasionally a particularly hard hit Cambridge attack would randomly strike a home defender and the ball would be recycled. The set ended quickly, 25-8 to Cambridge.
The third set looked at first to be more competitive, Li serving into the aerial before Chalupnik made two uncharacteristic errors. He quickly redeemed himself with a massive stuff block and thundering kill, but Cambridge made several errors in trying additional combination attacks, and the score remained quite close. However, Sarkozy would hit another service run and put his side ahead for good, and in the dying moment's Li would serve one final ace, taking the Cambridge single-match serve record. The set would end 25-16, and the Blues completed the first away campaign sweep in Cambridge history.
MVP goes to Tjonnie Li, not for his aces but rather excellent distribution, as all his hitters contributed well.
Report by Stephen Sarkozy
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