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Photos from the weekend

EVA Student Cup Finals (Leeds), 17-18/02/01

Cambridge 2

Following the withdrawal from the Student Cup by the Irish representative, the EVA decided to invite Cambridge 2 to participate in the finals in Leeds on 17th-18th February. The enthusiasm of the team at this prospect was immediate, and despite the predicted costs of the weekend, a squad even larger than Cambridge 1 was gathered. Cambridge 2's participation in the tournament meant that Cambridge was the most represented university in the finals, with 3 teams entered. Everything came toghether when Pascale Garaud (Camb 1's usual captain) twisted her ankle and, being unable to play, became Camb 2's coach. The team was composed of Anna Woo (Captain), Vittoria Feola and Ulli Klossek as outsides, Helen Whiting, Joanna Argasinka and Karolina Watras as middles, and Janice Pedersen, Olivia Gwynn and (introducing) Jomana Fitree as setters.

Cambridge 2 vs Bradford (23-25,10-25)

As Bradford looked like one of the weakest opponents of the day, and were (wrongly) remembered to have been beaten by Cambridge 2 in the qualifiers, Cambridge 2 started on court with a strong 6 composed of Anna and Ulli, Janice and Olivia and Helen and Karolina. The girls looked very awake despite the very early morning rise and the 3 hour trip to Leeds. In the ridiculously short warm up time assigned to the team, setting and hitting looked good. However, the start of the game was hesitant and after a string of receiving errors a first time out was called to remind the team of some basics - after which passing accuracy miraculously increased to near-perfection. This allowed the hitters to finally use their skills to bring the game back to a tie (at 10-10). After a reasonnably well-matched period of play, Bradford's strongest server took the ball at (16-18) and didn't give the girls any mercy, leading her team to the set point. On the edge of losing the set, Cambridge 2 redoubled efforts and won the point, giving Ulli the serve. Ulli displayed nerves of steel as she relentlessly served hard top spinned bullets which left Bradford struggling in their receptions. Several aces were scored. The whole team backed these serves up marvellously and defended well the few Bradford attacks, settting up their own and winning yet more points. At 23-24, a very controversial and unfortunate referee's call took what whould have been Cambridge's set away.

Joanna started the second set with Helen as middles, the rest of the players remaining on court. Unfortunately, the moral was down for this set and despite good attacks by Helen and Anna and yet more brilliant serving by Ulli and Janice, the game was quickly swept away by Bradford. Sparse defence under the increasingly strong attacks by Bradford (who looked like they'd finally woken up) and a bad lack of communication in the back court meant that the girls spent more time saving runaway balls than attacking.

However, under the spell of their brilliant performance in the first set, the girls looked pretty cheerful after the end of the game. As Bradford played Oxford in the next game and was found to be able to keep up closely with the Oxford attacks, all regrets at having lost the game vanished.

SetsServiceAttacksReception
Anna2HKHF32
Janice2KEEKHFH-121
Karolina1.5FHH1
Helen2FHE KHKK0222
Joanna0.5
Jomana0
Vittoria0
Olivia2HF011111
Ulli2KFHHHHKHHHAAEHFHH31030

A - Ace Kill, K - Other Kill, H - Hard Attack/Serve, E - Easy Attack/Serve, F - Fault

Cambridge 2 vs Exeter (12-25, 6-25)

Cambridge 2 started the match a little sleepy after having refereed the previous game. Captain Anna Woo was found sleeping on the side of the court looking so comfortable that Vittoria Feola took her place on court with Ulli as outsides, Helen and Joanna as middles. Jomana had been volunteered as the third setter for the squad (as Gulin could not come to Leeds), and suprised everyone with her natural talent at the task. Janice completed the first 6 on court. The first half of the set was reasonnably well-matched, and Jomana set nice middle and outside attacks for Helen and Ulli to kill. Again, brilliant serving by Ulli and Janice put the opposition under pressure and kept them from deploying all their attacking power; Vittoria also surprised them with a killer "roof" serve (going so high that the entire opposition team gave up waiting for it to land). In the second half of the set, however, the serve receiving again became sloppy, and Exeter raced ahead, scaring Camb 2 with some of their impressive attacking skills.

The beginning of the second set looked good despite Helen and Ulli beign taken off for a rest before the hard Oxford game. An amazing rally let the bench think they were watching Camb 1 with great hard hits from Anna (just woken up) and hard pickups from Janice and Olivia. The rally ended with half of the team on the floor, as shown in the picture. However, early in the set the serve was taken by a wicked Exeter player (at 6-10) who never gave the ball back. She picked on players, alternated short, long, loopy, top-spin serves. The Cambridge defense was very quickly increased to a 4-receive pattern, to no avail. Ulli was brought back on court in an attempt to improve on the Cambridge defense, but Exeter caught on quickly and simply avoided serving near her. The girls got a serious defense lesson for 15 points.

SetsServiceAttacksReception
Anna1-HHH3033
Janice2HHHK233121
Karolina1.5FK100
Helen1FHK
Joanna1.5E-111100001
Jomana2EHKF-100
Vittoria1.5KEE0000
Olivia0
Ulli1.5HAHHK1203302002

A - Ace Kill, K - Other Kill, H - Hard Attack/Serve, E - Easy Attack/Serve, F - Fault

Cambridge 2 vs Oxford (13-25, 11-25)

After the Varsity match the previous weekend, it was now Cambridge 2's turn to play Oxford. Oxford had come to Leeds with a full strength team, and had already beaten Exeter in the morning. This was going to be a tough game. The girls were however psyched up in the prospect of the match, and were left with the instructions to try to put up a block for every attack, forget about attacks that were too hard to do anything about, and generally play as hard as they knew how to play. The starting line was Vittoria and Anna, Joanna and Karolina and Olivia and Jomana to save Helen, Ulli and Janice for the last set of the day. Things looked pretty good despite the formidable attacks put up by Oxford's newly acquired middle, Sara Pohl. Cambridge 2 managed to grab a few points with intelligent play (dumps behind the block and long baseline balls). Unfortunately, poor defense once more let the team down against a very strong series of short, top-spin serves by the opposition, and Oxford raced ahead to 22-6. After a time-out, Oxford lost the serve (coach kill!), and Cambridge 2 suddenly picked up the tempo with some good serving by Olivia, followed by good attacks and a block that finally started appearing against the Oxford attacks. The set was finally conceeded after 2 saved set points.

For this (likely) last set of the day, the first 6 that started the day went on court again, in an attempt to finish in style. Unfortunately, some bad mis-communication problems let the team concede many consecutive aces to the Oxford side, and Oxford very quickly raced ahead. Anna and Ulli served hard and well, and Ulli served two consecutive aces right on the line. However, the team committed many net errors and uncertain attacking, thereby releasing the pressure on the Oxford defense. This allowed them to once more show Cambridge 2 all their attacking skills, by setting up impressive combination attacks. The game was lost, but the morale was high: this had been a great game, and the girls held hard against one of the best teams of the tournament.

SetsServiceAttacksReception
Anna2HHHEKF331
Janice1FK10003
Karolina2-F03
Helen1FEK13003
Joanna1E-01
Jomana1.5EK010
Vittoria1E-201
Olivia1.5FHEHK-02010
Ulli1KKE-02

A - Ace Kill, K - Other Kill, H - Hard Attack/Serve, E - Easy Attack/Serve, F - Fault

Cambridge 2 vs Luton

The game against Luton started the next morning unexpectedly early, which meant that coach Pascale arrived in the middle of the first set (after having ferried people and balls around for 1 hour). With instructions to start on a strong 6 should this occur, Anna Woo started her team with Ulli on the outside, Olivia and Janice setting and Helen and Karolina in the middle. Little information was available as to what happened before the coach's arrival with the team 5-11 down and emergency an time-out was called to figure out what was going on. Lack of communication and bad reception were blamed, which was confirmed by the loss of 4 more points just after the time out, which called for another one. Once more, the team was reminded of basic reception techniques, to little avail. Unfortunately, against a weaker opposition (Luton) who served much loopier and slower serves than the teams Camb 2 had met the previous day, the team relaxed, lost concentration and played down to the opposition's level. A lot of "table-tennis" volleyball was played, and many fault attacks led Luton to an easy victory in the first set.

Pascale called for a vote in the intermission as to whether to aim to win the game at all costs (which would mean that some people may not have a chance to play much that morning), or give everyone an opportunity to play: the second position was chosen, which led to the following choices:

For the second set, Jomana was brought on for Janice, Joanna for Karolina and Vittoria for Anna. The team looked a little more confident in their attacks, somewhat regaining the speed and cohesion in the defense (relatively speaking) they had the day before. Unfortunately again, several mistakes were made (foot faults, net touches) which gave Luton the lead. The poor playing conditions had a lot to be blamed for, with walls only a meter away from the baselines. This made it difficult for the Cambridge 2 team to find their marks and a lot of balls were sent out of the opposition's court. Again, a lack of communication was clear in the back row, with several lollipop serves from the opposition ending up as aces. Janice was brought on for Helen in the middle, to increase the Cambridge defense, but the gap was already too large and Cambridge lost the second set.

For the third set, it was decided that a strong line-out would start the set in the hope of winning it, and that if the oppositions' score became too large, people would be again swapped on to get more playing time. As a result, Janice and Helen started in the middle, Anna and Ulli on the outside and Olivia and Jomana as setters. Camb 2 held the game a little closer this time for the beginning of the set, but Luton raced again ahead with several strong attacks. As decided, Vittoria, Joanna and Karolina were brought on to replace Ulli, Janice and Helen. Perhaps the idea of the imminent end of the game gave them wings, but for a few points it looked like Camb 2 could creep back into the set. Some great hard underarm serves by Olivia put Luton under a lot of pressure, and Jomana found Anna and Joanna on the attacks. Unfortunately again, the gap was too large and Luton finished the game.

Queen of the court for the weekend: Ulli for overall good playing and brilliant serving.

Most valuable player: Anna for great sporting spirit and endless supplies of goodies.

Quote of the weekend: unrelated to the games but I can't resist adding it here... In the minibus driving back to the hotel, from Jon Clarke "There are 18 girls sleeping in the hotel including me".

Report by Pascale Garaud

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