Nottingham find themselves back in the Premier Tier for the 2005-6 season after being relegated at the end of last season. The change comes as new BUSA rulings mean that two teams from the same University can't compete in the top league, and newly promoted Loughborough 2 were switched to Tier 2. The change of opposition meant a greater challenge for the Blues, with Nottingham usually a stronger side and the Blues fresh from the summer break, trials and one training.
With a number of absentees, the Blues team lined up with the majority of players from last years squad; Helen MacIntyre (c), Wendy Tsang Man Pun, Fiona Danks, Jill Aitken, Bethan Shaffery and Lindsey Mehrer. New additions were Hannah Schuster as debut middle and Julie Papanek as debut setter.
The Cambridge team showed that they hadn't had any match practice together since last March by immediately going down 4 points to the Nottingham serve, all by dint of hitter errors. Two side-outs later Hannah took to the service line and demolished the Nottingham receive with a powerful flat serve. The building of this huge lead involved the whole Cambridge side, Lindsey rallying well as libero and Bethan making good sets to all positions. The second set was a closer affair, Cambridge making good attack play but Nottingham rallying and picking up well. Good blocking by Fiona and Wendy was making it impossible for the visiting left-side attack to make any headway, and jump serves from Helen were putting pressure on the Nottingham receive unit. Cambridge changed setter in the third set, allowing Julie to get a first chance with the ball. Initial passing errors made for a shaky start, and Nottingham made a couple of come-back pushes during the set, but the match was won in three straight and the Cambridge side celebrated in a job well done.
MVP was Helen MacIntyre
Report by Jon Clarke
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