Blues 3-1 Loughborough University (25-17, 21-25, 25-22, 25-20)
The Cambridge team had been eagerly awaiting the return Loughborough fixture having only been able to send a skeleton squad for the away match, and resulting had been beaten quite comprehensively. With only one player missing for the match, the Cambridge team could field a strong side, and so knew that the match would be a close and entertaining affair. Starting six were Helen MacIntyre (captain) and Sara Maniero (O), Hannah Schuster and Antigone Dimas (M), Wendy Tsang Man Pun (R), Bethan Shaffery (S) and Lindsey Mehrer (L). Julia Shneider acted as reserve for the match.
In a now customary routine the Blues team got off to an appalling start in the first set, unable to manage a pass into Bethan and making attack errors from the sets that were distributed. At 3-11 against, a second, more heated time-out compared the players to some more recent opponents, which seemed to provoke a raise in the Cambridge game. Helen served nine points (through a hurried Loughborough time-out) to push Cambridge back into the lead. On this roll (and with no remaining time-outs anyway) the Blues started an uninterrupted dissection of the visitors, never reducing their lead through the set. Good attack from both Hannah and Antigone made points through the middle.
The set deficit seemed to have gained the attention of the Loughborough team and the rest of the match was much closer and hard-fought. Brief patches by both teams of poor passing or attack errors allowed the other to gain the upper hand, but this was clawed back eventually and each set went into the twenties. Repetitive middle attack by the Loughborough captain made the difference to the second set, the Blues only able to pick up and recycle her hits a limited number of times. Set three saw the Cambridge team with a 5 point margin going into the finale, with Antigone hitting around and through the 3 woman Loughborough block, Hannah blocking the Loughborough No.1, Wendy stealing points cross-court through the reverse, whilst Sara and Lindsey kept the back-court cover tight. Bethan delighted the crowd with a persistent volley attack to the Loughborough far corner, forcing the opponents into an error.
With a set lead and a worried looking Loughborough team in set 4 (of the University teams, Loughborough have only lost to Cambridge in BUSA pool matches, and only 3 times in the past 10 years), the Blues continued their good level of play, looking to make the best match of the season so far after the demolition of Oxford 3-0 away. Good serving kept the pressure on the Loughborough team and although both teams were making good kills, the Blues were covering well and picking up most down balls. Helen made a run of strong attacks mid-set against the Loughborough setter to extend the Cambridge lead, Hannah, Sara and Antigone all serving aces too. Bethan, perturbed by the extended hang-time of the Loughborough captain and subsequent comment after trying to reverse volley over the block, stepped up with a solo point winning block against the same player in the next play (there being a good half metre of difference in height). At the end of the set the opponents faded and the emphasis was on when the Cambridge team were going to seal victory, boosted by the thought of pizzas to celebrate the win no doubt.
MVP was Bethan Shaffery
Report by Jon Clarke
|Name||Position||Sets Played||Attacks||Kills||Kill Percent||Aces||Blocks||Pass||Total Points|
|Wendy Tsang Man Pun||R||4||27||5||19||0||0||1.8||5|