|Men's Blues Squad Match Reports
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So far the 1999-2000 season is shaping up to be the best overall in CUVC's history. At this halfway point in the season, both the Men's and Women's teams have qualified both for the last 32 of the BUSA championships and the EVA Finals, an unprecedented achievement. The Women have won five and lost two of their matches, which is their best start to a season for years, whilst the Men have won nine games in a row without dropping a set after their defeat to CVC in the first match of the season. (Match report index.)
The Men's team currently boasts its strongest squad for years, and the high standard of the reserve players has proved particularly important in the one-day BUSA and EVA tournaments. Cambridge's heaviest scorer so far this season has been middle blocker Carsten Dirksen, who has also been the best blocker and server. The outstanding hitter has been utility Roger Martinez, who the stats show wins 55% of possession in attack. The threat posed by his attacks through position two has frequently prevented the Blues' opponents from putting double-blocks on the middle attack, and this in turn has allowed Escott and Dirksen to become more effective in that position. It is for this reason, plus a growing understanding between these hitters and the setters in running quick attacks, that they both won more than 50% of possession in attack throughout the BUSA qualifying tournament, and more than 60% at the EVA tournament.
Cambridge's improvement overall can be gauged by the team kill ratio. From winning around 35% of possession in attack in the two friendlies against CVC and Hertfordshire, the Blues improved to 45% during the BUSA qualifiers, and reached an impressive 55% success during the EVA tournament. These are pleasing statistics, and suggest that Cambridge are settling into the 5-1, two-receiver system introduced by new coach Patrick Howorth at the start of the season.
Pierre Baillet has set superbly throughout the first half of the season, however Huw Vater's outstanding performances at the EVA tournament showed just how much he has improved already in this, only his second year as a setter. With Fabian Wagner also deputising effectively, the Blues have plenty of strength in depth. Jon Clarke and Alessio Ruggieri have already shown immense blocking ability through the middle, whilst Jean-Rene Huynh, Daniel Mesnard and Andreas Malm will keep first-choice outside hitters Steffen Krusch and captain Richard White on their toes throughout the year.
Cambridge will begin the new millennium aiming to add to their record nine-match winning streak. They face the last 32 qualifying round for the BUSA championships early in January, quickly followed by the Varsity Match against Oxford, where the Light Blues will aim to start the new century as they finished the old by vanquishing their ultimate enemy. Only a week later both the Men's and Women's teams will return to RAF Digby to contest the Finals of the EVA Championships, where the Men must be aiming to confirm their standing as one of the top five University sides in the country.
Report by Richard White
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