The first meeting of the 2002-3 BUSA finalists in the new season was in Loughborough as the Blues travelled away for the first fixture leg. With only two players from the squad that fought for the championship remaining in the Blues line-up, Cambridge started with Fiona Danks (capt) and Sarah Payne in the middle, Mary Chlouveraki setting, Wendy Tsang Man Pun as utility and Jill Aitken and Candice Baseden on left-side. The squad was completed with Karolina Lada, Joyce Wu and Laura Diaz-Anadon.
Cambridge started in a frenzy after a chaotic warm-up period, immediately losing 4 points to the Loughborough serve. Regaining some composure and levelling the scores, the Blues then went through two disastrous receive rotations where Mary was struggling to do anything constructive with the balls that she was given. The first set crashed and burned and the Cambridge team found themselves swapping ends without really getting into the game. The addition of Laura into the line-up for set two improved the passing and allowed Mary to bring her strong attackers into play. With both sides struggling to ground the ball, the match looked much more even in set two. Loughborough, uncharacteristic in their serve and attack errors, were still able to maximise on their more consistent players although a late serve run by Fiona made the scores more respectable.
A change of setter in set three brought Joyce into the game, with Laura and Karolina playing outside. At 13-13 the Blues looked to be in the set, and were stringing together some good defence and attack plays. Fiona making two block points and Joyce, Sarah and Karolina all taking aces on service. The Cambridge team, although not dominating, were certainly looking more confident in their play, especially for their second match together.
MVP Fiona Danks
Report by Jon Clarke
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