Blues 3-1 London (15-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-18)
Manor Community College, 20/02/2008
With both Cambridge and ULU having been knocked out by Sheffield Hallam in the EVA Student Cup Finals, most of the pregame debate revolved around the rather crazy BUSA draw. Nonetheless, a rematch of the 2006 BUSA semifinals would take place. With Chalupnik awaiting surgery (knee), Coach Jacquet started with Li setting opposite Niederste-Ostholt, Meeder and Sarkozy (c) swing hitting, and Neher and Zubko running middle. Finely would round out the side as libero.
Whether caught in the emotion of situation, or haunted by specters of Bournemouth, Cambridge began the match is disastrous fashion, falling behind 5-10 quickly. Time-outs from Jacquet partially stopped the bleeding, although Cambridge error after error saw the visitors from London build up an insurmountable lead. A consistent, rather than spectacular performance from ULU was all that was needed to close out the set for them, 15-25.
Although the team talk between sets can be fully reported on such a family-oriented website, it suffices to say that the Cambridge players did not escape lightly with their poor performance. The squad took the court with a sense of urgency in the second set, immediately jumping out to a lead. Cambridge began to cut out the errors, though with neither side providing effective attack, long rallies went both ways, and London recovered a 5 point deficit to the knot the set at 17 all. A crucial kill from Meeder and two blocks from Neher gave Cambridge a margin which they held effectively, tying the game by taking the set 25-20.
Again Cambridge took an early lead in the third set, beginning to play with a confidence that had eluded them thus far. Improved passing allowed Li to distribute the game, and against single blocks, Cambridge hitters did not disappoint. London again pushed back, and the game was tied at 21. A controversial call involving Li as a back court blocker was whistled a let point, much to the anger of the London squad. Cambridge clinically converted two line kills, and took the set, 25-22.
So angry was the London squad that no fewer than two yellow cards were awarded to them between sets three and four, giving Cambridge a two point cushion, although perhaps it could be said that it was not needed. Cambridge played their best set of the night, and London, perhaps distracted, where not mentally present. After a few crushing blocks from the Light Blues front line, several balls dropped harmlessly on the London court due to miscommunication or other errors. Great chase downs and digs gave the home hitters the ability to extend the lead to 10 points. A few strong points of London gave them a glimmer of hope. Sensing the danger, Jacquet brought on Nyumba for Niederste-Ostholt, and the move proved the perfect one, with the opposite unleashing two powerful kills to give Cambridge set point. A side out from London was followed by a pipe kill from Sarkozy, and the Light Blues were once again in the BUSA finals.
MVP: Steve Sarkozy
Report by Stephen Sarkozy
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