Blues 1-3 Oxford University (25-21, 21-25, 13-25, 23-25)
With a full strength Blues team facing a full strength Oxford team for the first time, this match was always going to be strongly contested as the players looked forward to the Varsity Match, to be held in Cambridge on the 5th Feb. Bethan Shaffrey started as Blues setter, with Fiona Danks and Nadia von Maltzahn at middle, Jill Aitken and Helen MacIntyre at outside and captain Wendy Tsang Man Pun on reverse. Katy Bidart completed the team as libero. Also present were Veronica Kunze, Lindsey Mehrer, Karolina Lada, Alison Toddand Ellen van Baak.
From the outset the Blues struggled to contain the Oxford serve, giving Bethan a hard time to find her attackers off of loosely passed balls. An early Blues time-out prompted a return to level scoring and Helen opened the Cambridge account with a strong outside swing. Fiona served tough, winning two aces and the rallies in the later part of the set were entertaining volleyball for the spectators, with both teams picking up and recycling well. Cambridge edged the set with substituted setter Veronica making the plays. The second set saw a determined Oxford and another poor Cambridge start. Better passing later in the set allowed Nadia to hit fast attacks from Veronica, but Oxford were getting to the down-balls faster and reversed the set scores. Into the third set, with Lindsey, Ellen and Alison getting into the scoring, the Blues looked strong at the outset. However, a collapse and horrible run of hitting errors (using up both time-outs) saw Oxford coast to a comfortable lead. The Cambridge serve improved towards the tail of the set, Helen and Nadia also running good fast and back-court attacks respectively, but the set was always looking like a desperate attempt for Cambridge to catch up.
The fourth set was and all out Blues barrage to try and stay in the match, Oxford having the set advantage. Helen, who had been trading attacks with Oxford captain Nicki Osbourne all match, made crucial block and wipe-off attacks to shut down the dark blue play-maker. With an points margin to the home team, the Blues couldn’t quite hold onto the advantage as the Oxford team recycled the ball to their two main attackers. Good cover play by Wendy and Katy kept the rallies going but Oxford managed to steal the set and match. The Varsity should be a great match!
MVP was Wendy Tsang Man Pun
Report by Jon Clarke
|Name||Position||Sets Played||Attacks||Kills||Kill Percent||Aces||Blocks||Pass||Total Points|
|Wendy Tsang Man Pun||R||4||32||9||28||2||0||1.6||11|
|Ellen van Baak||M||2||2||1||50||0||0||1|
|Nadia von Maltzahn||M||3||12||4||33||0||2||6|