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BUSA Midlands Conference Match 2 (Cambridge), 28/10/00

Blues 3-0 Oxford University (25-13, 25-15, 25-17)

An exceptional display of power volleyball from Cambridge University Men's Volleyball team saw them register a remarkable 3-0 sweep of old enemy Oxford University on Saturday, in an one-sided match which was over in a mere 44 minutes. The final result was the Dark Blues' heaviest-ever defeat in an Oxbridge fixture.

Seeing their fairer counterparts on the Ladies' Team lose a gripping five-set marathon to the Dark Blues was all the inspiration needed for a Cambridge side already intent on humiliating their traditional rivals. The Blues lined up with Dennis Zuev setting, Andreas Malm at opposite, Richard Weinberg and Jean Jacquet as outside hitters, and Dan Escott and Steffen Krusch as middle blockers. Captain Huw Vater completed the team as libero. Oxford unveiled a new side with plenty of height, and returned middle blockers Zografos and Bistritschan and star outside hitter Rudolph Glitz from their 1999-2000 side.

Cambridge came out with all guns blazing, running away to 6-0 behind strong team defence and some outstanding blocking from Dan Escott, which included a crushing stuff block on Glitz. Oxford were never allowed into the set as tough serving from the Light Blues forced errors from their receivers, and were visibly stunned as Cambridge took the game 25-13 in only ten minutes of play.

The same six took to the court for set two, but Cambridge appeared to relax and gifted the Dark Blues a 5-1 lead, behind three kills from Glitz. A time-out from coach Dr Richard White settled the side down, however, and at the resumption the status quo from the first set was restored. The Light Blues were frequently devastating in attack and from the service line, with Steffen Krusch and Richard Weinberg taking centre stage, supported by uniformly excellent passing from libero Huw Vater. Substitutions from Oxford came and went to no avail, and Cambridge sealed the set 25-15.

The same side started for Cambridge again in game three, and made another slow start, Oxford taking a 6-2 lead and forcing a Cambridge time-out. Coach White brought in Daniel Mesnard for opposite hitter Andreas Malm, and he responded with a run of five serves to pull his side ahead. With the Light Blues again dominating, setter Denis Zuev injected a little flair in to the match, running combination plays to good effect as Jean Jacquet registered three kills before being substituted for Quentin Ramasse. Oxford morale was visibly low, and one more exceptional play from Cambridge demoralised them completely. Glitz, the Dark Blues' best hitter, hammered the ball from the outside over the Cambridge block; however Daniel Mesnard was in perfect position in the back court, and somehow dug the ball to the net. Zuev set Krusch on the quick attack in transition, and the result was a bullet spike onto the 3m line. This play alone summed up the match, with Cambridge able to return even the best attacks that their opponents could offer with interest. Amidst a cacophony of noise in the hall, the Light Blues wrapped up the third set 25-17 to complete an overwhelming victory.

Coach Dr Richard White said after the game: "This was an stunning performance. Oxford had a lot of height, and were really bouncing balls in the hitting warm-up, but we never let them into the match. I don't think we should read too much into their performance, as they haven't played together much and should improve over the next few matches. But this is also true of Cambridge - we won today without even playing Marko Jauhiainen and Jean-Rene Huynh, who was one of the stars of the Varsity Match last season. The determination and spirit within the squad is superb - Rich Weinberg and Denis Zuev really fired the whole team up today, and it was great to see the guys having fun on court. If we can continue to play at this level and higher, we'll be a match for any team."

Denis Zuev had a stellar game, and was able to set a balanced attack, with Dan Escott emerging as MVP with 14 points (including five more blocks). Steffen Krusch was also exceptional through the middle in attack, with seven kills on only twelve attempts, whilst libero Huw Vater and outside Richard Weinberg were again superb in reception, passing at 2.36 and 2.33 respectively. Cambridge travel to Nottingham on Wednesday hoping to maintain their unbeaten record in the BUSA Midlands Conference.

Smiles all-round following a crushing victory in under 45 minutes (click for the bigger picture)

PositionSets PlayedAttacksKillsKill %AcesBlocksTotal Points
Dan EscottM3198421514
Jean JacquetO31265028
Steffen KruschM3127581210
Andreas MalmU315320227
Daniel MesnardU121501
Quentin RamasseO1100
Huw VaterLibero3-
Richard WeinbergO316744119
Denis ZuevS310011
Team Total378324171150

Report by Richard White

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