With the majority of the strong Loughborough players being rested for a National League fixture, the Blues faced a reduced strength side in the match that would decide first and second place in the league. Still using two of their first six, Loughborough were disorganised at the start of the first set, allowing Cambridge to take the first few points. With Jen and Federica the only changes from the first six that started the other matches, the Blues were on top of the game and were picking up the occasional Loughborough attack that was on target. After a forced time-out, the Loughborough team came back to the court with resolve, and set up a formidable blocking defence. With a consistent 3 person block on the Cambridge middle attack, the Blues struggled to get strong attacking shots and were reduced to volleying and dumping the ball to areas that were covered in the Loughborough court. With the outside attack finding space above Jen's block, the Blues confidence looked shaky and resulted in points lost through poor communication and erratic passing.
With Anna replacing Jen in the second set, the Blues were looking at an uphill struggle to gain the match. When a good pass was fed into Anna by Federica, Christine was able to make the point on the outside. However, the serve-receive was consistently pushing Anna further and further into the back-court to retrieve the ball and hence reducing the effective sets. Christine was serving deep and found an ace, Federica too was taking advantage of the holes left in the corners of the Loughborough defence. The introduction of fresh legs in the shape of Sandra and Jo spurred the Blues onto a drive for points, but Loughborough had already made the break and unforced errors allowed them to take the second set in what was a disappointing finish to the Blues pool play. With the prospect of Birmingham in the semi-finals the Cambridge team departed for a well-earned meal and proved their stamina on the dance-floor at the tournament party, only equalled by the Oxford women and Soren.
Report by Jon Clarke
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