BUSA Midlands Conference tier 2 runners-up from the 2001-2 season travelled to Cambridge for their away fixture with nothing to lose. Already with two wins under their belts and sporting a strong new squad, the Nottingham team looked well-practiced and able to pick up the ball well.
The Blues seemed a little complacent with the fixture, sporting a new combination of setter Jomana Fikree with Cyndee Carver on opposite, middle starters Fiona Danks and captain Nadia von Maltzahn, and Fola Popoola and Jo Coulson on the outside. The warmup eventually got under-way, some of the late Blues arrivals seemingly unperturbed by not having a full warm-up time.
The Blues picked up the first couple of points, one from a Nottingham service error. However, the next section of the match saw a Cambridge collapse of spectacular proportions. All previous knowledge of volleyball seemed to leave the team as the next 10 points went Nottinghams way; receive errors, net touches, setting errors, attack errors abounded. Having used two time-outs for a 12-2 scoreline the Cambridge team were in disarray and didn't survive very long in the rest of the set. The Blues havent suffered such a humiliating set score since playing the semi-professional national sides at the European Champions Finals.
The second and third sets were more respectable but the Blues were always struggling to make points. The Nottingham team worked well as a unit and managed to pick up any half-decent attack the Cambridge team could make. After that it wasnt necessary to do more than give the ball back to the Blues - the rallies eventually ended with a Blues error. Fiona and Nadia were making occasional points through the centre and from blocking the strong Nottingham outside player, but the Cambridge outside attack was not effective and the team didnt use the utility player. The shocking statistics from this match reflect the play; the Blues lost 20, 19 and 15 points in each set due to unforced errors. Lets hope its just a bad-hair day.
Player of the match: Nadia von Maltzahn
Report by Jon Clarke
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