Cambridge took on its old rivals, in match four of the BUSA campaign, with the fourth set of starters for the season. Willis took over defence duties, veteran player coach Jean Jacquet joined Schafstedde on the left side, whilst Ramasse remained at setter; Dorn opposite; Johnson and Heslop in the centre. Whilst probably the strongest line-up to take the court thus far, the team struggled to maintain the pressure on an organised-looking Dark Blue outfit that included a combination of new and old players, under the direction of ex-Light Blue Richard White.
Set one started very brightly for Cambridge who pulled into a lead with solid attack and defence. The lead was held throughout, White using both his time outs in an attempt to real in the visitors. A late surge from Oxford was not enough as Cambridge squeezed ahead to win 26-28.
In set two Oxford stepped up a gear and the increased service pressure put Cambridge on the back foot. Another Light Blue defector, Denis Zuev gave Oxford plenty of transition opportunities with his usual energetic performance as libero. Behind the shaky passing, Cambridge failed to side out efficiently and Oxford won the set convincingly 25-17.
Although this old rivalry brought out some great volleyball from both teams, probably the best either side has played this year, Cambridge made too many errors to keep the pressure on a confident-looking home side. The next two sets continued in much the vein, ending 25-21 and 25-18.
Despite the loss coach Jacquet did not sound despondent: “The team is improving rapidly, the standard of play was considerably higher than at our last game. As long as we can keep moving forwards like this we will be a very competitive team at the business end of the season”.
Report by Jean Jacquet
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