Cambridge traveled to Nottingham for their second away fixture of the year, and expectations for a titanic match were high after the events of last year. Cambridge eliminated Nottingham on route to their EVA Student Cup championship, whereas Nottingham returned the favour, knocking Cambridge out of the BUSA Finals. Despite the loss of star players on both sides, these memories would not be forgotten. Coach Jacquet, still trying to find his optimal lineup, gave Andrea Dalmaso a debut swing hitting along with Chalupnik, ran Neher and Zubko through the middle, Finley at libero, Li setting with Sarkozy, the only starter from the EVA Cup winning team, again captaining the side, hitting power.
After a bit of a scramble arriving, and a brief five minute warm-up, the Light Blues took the floor sporting their new kit. The first set started off a bit chaotic, both sides making errors and neither passing properly. Cambridge never got their middles involved, though the wing hitters were up to the challenge. Blocking was also tremendous, the Blues stuffing from all positions along the net, taking the Nottingham attacks out of the game. As usual, Jacquet made the most of his timeout, and after being down 18-21, strong service put the home side under too much pressure, with Cambridge taking the set 25-23.
The second set saw more of the same – Cambridge falling quickly behind. Again, the middle hitters were a non-factor in attack, and although Cambridge continued to score several points on the block, it the defect held to 17-20. A key side out at set point down from Sarkozy was followed by two thundering kills from Chalupnik, sealing the set for Cambridge, 26-24.
Jacquet, while pleased at his sides commitment and focus to come back from behind not to mention being up 2-0, beseeched his team to make things easier on themselves by passing properly and using their entire range of attack. At the beginning of the third set his players responded admirably, Li’s jump servers building up a large margin. 21-14 up, Cambridge mistakenly took their foot of the gas, and despite Willis being subbed in to improve the passing unit and Koksma adding a new dimension to the middle attack, Nottingham stormed back, eventually knotting the score at 23 all. Side outs were mostly traded, although Cambridge did face a set point down. Again, Cambridge invoked its wing attack, with Dalmaso, coming back in for Willis, eventually providing the game winner.
MVP was award by Coach Jacquet to Stephen Sarkozy (power, captain).
Coach Jean Jacquet
On the match in general:
Neither team played anywhere near their best, although serving was generally good, the passing was dire for much of the game.
On Nottingham getting nothing out of a very close match:
'...losing 0-3 at home to a team that only just starting to gel, that's gotta hurt.'
On playing Oxford away next week:
'[T]he team is ready for a venture into the dark side.'
Report by Stephen Sarkozy
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