The first meeting of the Light and Dark Blues this season produced an easy 3-0 win for the Cambridge team. However, both teams were still going through trials stages at the time and the Blues expected the Oxford team to be better organised for the return away match. With an experimental main line-up the blues started with; Veronica Kunze (capt, S), Alison Loomis (U), Anne Mullin and Nadia von Maltzahn (M), and Cyndee Carver and Fola Popoola (O). Substitutes included Maria Marcaida, Fiona Danks, Jomana Fikree and Jill Aitken.
Both teams started the first set with strong attack options, Oxford through their middle and back-court and Cambridge through their fast middle play. However, the Blues were feeling the pressure when these attacks began to be blocked and their defensive play was found to be lacking. Cyndee opened her account by slugging the line and Veronica was making points through good sets and second ball attacks. Even with the Oxford higher serve error percentage the Blues suffered a mid-set attack error crisis which saw Fiona replacing Anne for the remainder of the set.
Determined not to let the tables turn after the first leg, the Blues were still struggling to contain the middle Oxford attack at the start of set 2. Having gained confidence with a number of good solo blocks from Nadia and Anne, the Blues pick-up play improved dramatically and the opponents were finding it harder to spot the gaps in the Cambridge court. Also struggling was the second referee, who, after missing a net touch which threatened to pull out the posts, was unable to find her whistle to signal time-outs and substitutions. Nevertheless, Veronica?s run of seven serves including an ace resulted in the Oxford team feeling the pressure and making more and more attack errors. Anne added the final blow of the set with a delicate tip which had six players sprawling on the ground.
Set 3 again started evenly matched. A fresh set of legs was brought on in the form of Jill, who immediately rose to the occasion and served up a delightful ace. The Blues were making consistent serve and the pressure was beginning to tell as the Oxford errors again increased, interspersed by the occasional strong middle attack. Anne?s run of service again finished the set, the final point lost on a huge mid-net error from an overpass.
Nosing ahead, the Blues relaxed and found more quality in depth, bringing in bench players Maria and Fiona to continue the attack on Oxford. Veronica made four points immediately from the start and floated in a delicate ball to rack up another ace for her stats. Cyndee, still recovering from injury, hammered the line convincingly to force an Oxford time-out with the scores getting embarrassing. Back on court thirty seconds later Veronica fed another perfect ball to the outside and Cyndee once again pounded the same spot four metres from the net. At this point the match was won, the Oxford team not being able to muster any form of reply and the end signalled with an ignominious serve error.
Player of the match: Alison Loomis
Report by Jon Clarke
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