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1999-2000 End-of-year Report

In 1998-99, the Cambridge University Men's Team equalled the achievements of their 1990 predecessors with a crushing Varsity Match victory and a third place finish in the BUSA National Championships. The 1999-2000 squad bettered even this; they won a truly enthralling Varsity Match by beating a much stronger Oxford team from two sets down in Oxford, finished a best-ever seventh in the EVA Student Cup Finals (with a weakened squad) and carried all before them in the BUSA competition before being knocked out at the last 16 stage by eventual winners, Sheffield Hallam.

And yet there will still be the feeling that the Light Blues could have done better. Before Christmas, Cambridge looked to have a six capable of taking on any University side in the country. This 'dream team' firstly comprised two superb middle blockers in Dan Escott and Carsten Dirksen, and two consistent outside attackers, Steffen Krusch and captain Richard White. All four were strong players in both attack and block, but with very different methods; where Escott won points through leaping high to hit over blocks, Dirksen used his greater attack speed to hit round defenders; whereas Krusch scored points with cross-court attacks, White targetted the line for kills and wipe-offs. These four players also formed the passing unit, which freed up setter Pierre Baillet to concentrated solely on organising attacking combinations, and allowed Cambridge's star player Roger Martinez to focus on destroying sides with attacks from both front and back row as universal hitter.

Alas the bubble burst as both White and Dirksen completed their studies over Christmas, and were therefore unavailable for matches after the turn of the Millennium. Reserve players such as middle blockers Mathias Klaeui, Alessio Ruggieri and Dave Gardiner, and outside attackers Andreas Malm, Jean-Rene Huynh and Daniel Mesnard were elevated into the starting six, and rose to the challenge well, but against stronger opposition Cambridge were over-reliant on Escott and Martinez both to provide quality passes as well as kills, and the balance of the team suffered as a result. The statistical analysis shows that Roger Martinez was easily Cambridge's star player in what will be his final year with the Club, and his final points and kills tally are likely to remain records for a considerable time. A worthy replacement for him will be almost impossible to find.

Nevertheless, Cambridge did not need their 'dream team' to exceed all previous achievements, and the fact that they were only knocked out of the EVA Finals by eventual runners-up Oxford, and eliminated from the BUSA tournament by eventual winners Sheffield Hallam, shows how close the side was to the standards set by the very best in the country. It is also reassuring that a full six of Escott, setter Huw Vater, Huynh, Malm, Ruggieri and Mesnard will be playing next year, and will have gained crucial experience of playing at the highest level of the student game from their outings this season. This year's coach Patrick Howorth may also join the side as setter, so continuity at least can already be assured. The future looks bright...

Team record
Played 19
Won 14
Lost 5

Sets for 32
Sets against 15

Points for 1059
[direct winners 708 (67%)]
Points against 923

MVP awards
Roger Martinez 12 (1 joint)
Dan Escott 4 (1 joint)
Carsten Dirksen 2
Richard White 1
Alessio Ruggieri 1

Best scorers
1. Roger Martinez 190 points
2. Dan Escott 146
3. Carsten Dirksen 73
4. Richard White 60

Most kills
1. Roger Martinez 148 kills
2. Dan Escott 90
3. Steffen Krusch 44
4. Richard White 40

Best attackers
1. Roger Martinez .463 ratio
2. Carsten Dirksen .449
3. Richard White .444
4. Dan Escott .437

Best blockers
1. Dan Escott 43 blocks
2. Roger Martinez 21
3. Carsten Dirksen 20
4. Pierre Baillet 10

Best servers
1. Carsten Dirksen 22 aces
2. Roger Martinez 21
3. Dan Escott 13
4. Richard White 11

NameSets PlayedAttacksKillsAcesStuff BlocksPoints madeKill Fraction
Pierre Baillet315712610280.211
Jon Clarke720437140.200
Pierre-Yves Couliard61060170.600
Carsten Dirksen1969312220730.449
Dan Escott382069013431460.437
Colin Feeney61850270.278
Dave Gardiner1224725140.292
Sigve Gjerstad1200000.000
Jean-Rene Huynh15641912220.297
Mathias Klaui915555150.333
Steffen Krusch321244446540.355
Andreas Malm10431421170.326
Roger Martinez3932014821211900.463
Daniel Mesnard20602345320.383
Andreas Pick2002020.000
Alessio Ruggieri15301136200.367
Huw Vater191301670.000
Fabian Wagner5100000.000
Richard White209040119600.444
Team 4711664591001497080.394

Report by Richard White

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