With plenty of time to spare for the Nottingham away fixture (the Blues were extremely late last season), a super-extended warmup seemed like a bit of a marathon as the first referee explained to the scorer how to fill out a score-sheet. Nottingham had obviously beefed up their attack significantly from the previous season, with two notably tall additions. The Blues squad consisted of Bethan Shaffrey, Nadia von Maltzahn, Jill Aitken, Helen MacIntyre, Wendy Tsang Man Pun (capt), Katy Bidart, Lindsey Mehrer, Alison Todd and Laura Diaz-Anadon.
The first set was plagued by Blues serve errors, and compounded by good Nottingham serve pressure. Time and again the tall Nottingham attack were gifted over-passed balls to kill off effectively. These players also proved difficult to get past, Alison getting blocked on hard attacks and even Wendy’s tips not making it past the impressive height of the block reach. This format continued into the second set with the tall Nottingham middle and reverse options dominating. Alison, spurred on by the single Cambridge supporter at the match (her father), found points with line attacks and Lindsey was working well on the reverse. Rallies extended, with 4 or 5 kill attempts per point, but the Cambridge block had slowed, Nadia and Jill being sent on errands by the Nottingham setter, allowing the smallest player on the Nottingham court to make effective attacks.
Set three saw a Nottingham collapse, bad passing and lack of attack gave the Blues the confidence to get back into the game. Alison made a long serve run, Nadia found attack kills in the centre of the net and Jill closed out the set with a stylish ace. Set four seemed to be going the same way, Jill serving 3 aces into the first opposition time-out, then serving another after coming back onto court. However the Cambridge serve-received started to look shaky, and with Nottingham picking up everything hit at them, they home team clawed their way back and edged the set for the match.
MVP was Alison Todd
Report by Jon Clarke
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