With an away draw against Portsmouth for the second successive BUSA K.O. round (this time legitimately so - Cambridge finishing as pool 3rd place, whilst Portsmouth finished 2nd), the Blues knew that they faced a tough opposition. Fielding a full-strength squad for the fixture, the travelling team comprised of; Fiona Danks (Capt, M), Sarah Payne (M), Uta Wieland (M), Dani Maggiorano (M/O), Wendy Tsang Man Pun (U), Laura Diaz-Anadon (O), Mary Chlouveraki (S), Sarah March (O), Jill Aitken (O), Joyce Wu (S) and Cynthia Lim (L). Portsmouth were also fielding a full strength crew, with the addition over last year of a very strong outside hitter.
Set one tested the Cambridge team immediately, and they responded with some of the best passing of their season. However, service let the Blues down with six errors from the baseline in this set. Inconsistent setting was also providing problems as Cambridge were unable to get any significant attack past the Pompey block, and had no cover response to the south-coasters main attack hitter. A switch of setters for set two saw Joyce switching for Mary, and increasing the block height in the middle saw Sarah P replacing Dani, who switched to outside. Again the Cambridge side were plagued by serve errors - good serves provided pressure from which the Portsmouth team were making errors. However, one good serve was invariably followed by an error, giving no net advantage. Setting continued to prove to be the weak point of the Cambridge game and Portsmouth were providing the Blues with more points than they were making themselves, especially with the inclusion of some of their weaker bench players. The Blues faced a mountain at the start of the third set and rallied to produce some better play. Sarah M found some good attack points with strategic play and Dani increased her serve efficiency, dishing up two aces. Wendy was chasing everything down, to the extent of nearly concussing herself after a collision with the post, but thankfully did not seriously injure herself.
A 3:0 win was deserved by the Portsmouth team. The Blues unfortunately ended their BUSA campaign by not qualifying for finals for the first time in three years. However, with the majority of the team returning for the next season, they will be looking to use this experience to get further next year.
MVP: Dani Maggiorano
Report by Jon Clarke
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