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BUSA Midlands Conference Match 8 (Loughborough), 7/2/01

Blues 0-3 Loughborough University (19-25, 20-25, 22-25)

Cambridge University Men's volleyball team ended their BUSA qualifying campaign with a straight sets defeat by Loughborough University yesterday. The fixture had no bearing on the final outcome of the group, since Loughborough were already assured of first place, and the Light Blues of second, both teams going through to the knockout phase of the competition.

The Cambridge team, already badly hit by the loss of setter Denis Zuev to 'flu, were rocked by the news that starting middle blocker Steffen Krusch was out, probably for the rest of the season, with a spiral fracture of a bone in his left hand sustained in a freak training accident. With Marko Jauhiainen and Jean-Rene Huynh also unavailable for the match, the Light Blues started with Quentin Ramasse and Rich Weinberg setting, Dan Escott and Soren Koeppe as middle blockers and Jean Jacquet and Andreas Malm as outside hitters.

With the result of the fixture having little importance, Loughborough rested their starting setter and one of their starting middle blockers. They were still able to field a strong line-up, but Cambridge started brightly behind some authoritative hitting from Andreas Malm. The Light Blues blocking frequently slowed down the Loughborough offense, with Soren Koeppe collecting two stuff blocks in the set. From holding the home side at 16-18, Cambridge unfortunately squandered their chance with a succession of hitting errors, mostly unforced, and the game was lost 19-25.

Some enthusiastic chanting of the Light Blues' adopted war cry, "Allez les bleus", drowned out Loughborough's more primitive bellowing, and enabled Cambridge to jump out to a 6-2 lead in game two. However the untried passing unit now floundered as three successive reception errors forced coach Dr Richard White to call time-out in order to restore the mental focus of the team. Hitting errors from the outside hitters again dogged the Light Blues, largely undoing some excellent work by middle blockers Escott and Koeppe, nevertheless Cambridge were still in with a chance at 20-21. Alas the passing again deteriorated, allowing the home team to take the next four points to seal the set. The final point saw a confusion of calls from the two officials, causing Cambridge's Dan Escott to use some industrial language and test the ballistic properties of his water bottle, actions which gained him a yellow card.

The Light Blues thus began game three already 0-1 down, but parity was immediately restored as Jean Jacquet powered down a kill, and then took the ball to serve Cambridge into a 3-1 lead. However sub-standard passing and a lack of penetration in the outside hitting was again to be their downfall. Escott continued to perform heroics in attack, almost invariably against a three-man block, and inflicted a six-pack and two stuff blocks on his opponents as he channelled his annoyance into his play. But although they were again in the game right at the end at 19-21, the Light Blues could not come back and succumbed 22-25.

Coach Dr Richard White was reflective after the match. "Considering we were without three starters, including our setter, this was not a bad performance, even though Loughborough also rested a couple of players. The players stuck to our serving plan quite well, and we were able to pressure the Loughborough reception more than we had done in the previous match. We really missed Denis Zuev today - Loughborough played a pretty short guy as setter, and our offense was targetted at exploiting this block weakness. Unfortunately we couldn't get the necessary set accuracy or speed to really pressure them. Eventually they took the little guy out and blocked with two, but I don't think we really forced their hand here. The team is a bit short on luck at the moment - most of the team have had to miss a couple of training sessions at various times due to 'flu, and Steffen Krusch's injury was a real freak occurrence. The silver lining is that Soren Koeppe had a great game today, and we really need him to play at this level for the rest of the season."

Dan Escott was MVP with 14 points, but for once his tally of four blocks was equalled, by Soren Koeppe in an impressive second match for the team. Cambridge next play on Saturday in their Varsity Match showdown with Oxford, and all Cambridge supporters are asked to offer prayer and/or sacrifice (depending upon denomination) for the swift recovery of setter Denis Zuev.

PositionSets PlayedAttacksKillsKill %AcesBlocksTotal Points
Max BautinU1-
Dan EscottM32110480414
Jean JacquetO321629028
Soren KoeppeM34250046
Andreas MalmO315533027
Quentin RamasseS39111102
Huw VaterLibero3-
Richard WeinbergS37114001
Team Total377253211238

Report by Richard White

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