Saturday, April 11, 2009

OVC men team is fifth (out of twelve)

It’s been almost a week since the Men’s team closed the regular season with a fixture at Loddon Valley in Reading. This time to play the top (Basingstoke Mens A) and the bottom (Spikeopaths Mens 2) teams of the league. Basingstoke already had secured the league win, but for both Oxford and Spikeopaths the outcome could potentially result in advancing a couple of places in the league table, or in the case of Oxford dropping one place further down. So despite the apparent mismatch, the fixture was by no means a dead rubber. Only minor alterations of the team compared to the previous match were necessary, with Julien replacing Tim and Neil. Yes, he is that good.

Unfortunately, not all teams are equally good at getting results in to the BVA so I’ve postponed sending out the match report until the final position of OVC in the league table was known. As you may have guessed, this is now the case and OVC has secured an honourable fifth out of twelve. The mixed team selector may be fast to point out that this is not the least bit honourable when measured against their league win. Here the context should be remembered, with the Men’s league being so much more competitive than the Mixed league. Cornelius offers a perfect example of the commitment required to play at this higher level. Despite having inherited Sam’s cold that saw her sit out the Mixed league decider the previous Sunday, Cornelius stooped to no such letting down of his team. Even after being substituted out due to injuring himself getting entangled in some sports hall equipment, he reentered at the beginning of the deciding third set and fought heroically for the remainder of the match. Alas, to no avail as Oxford saw a 13-10 lead slip to a 15-13 defeat. As a consolation, in the tie break Basingstoke had to resort to passing all their play through their GB Olympic Volleyball team player, Marc Richardson, with the rest of their line-up pretty much closed down. As a further bit of evidence of the tougher competition in the Men’s league compared to the mixed league - if any such was needed - Jon once again failed even to be considered for player of the match, which this honour befalling Martijn.

The second match saw Spikeopaths the butt of the Oxford players’ desire to redeem themselves. With a 25-4 win - with Gerard serving 17 serves in a row - in the first set, Oxford equalled the biggest set win in the BVA this season. The second set was used more as a training session, giving Julien some experience on the setting position, with a more modest 25-16 outcome as the result. Puzzlingly a Spikeopath player was nominated player of the match, which can only have been down to the consistency with which he managed to roll the ball down to Gerard for his next serve. Still, Oxford could withdraw with 4 more points. Not sufficient to have any chance of climbing the table, as we started out 5 points behind the teams in third and fourth positions, but sufficiently few that Farnborough could still catch up. However, as they suffered a defeat to Newbold, Oxford remains in fifth place. A bit of uninteresting statistics: Oxford, together with Newbury, is the team in the Men’s league playing the most sets with more than a third of the matches going to three sets; on average less than one in four sets in the BVA Men’s league requires a tie break decider.


Friday, April 3, 2009

We are the champions!

With two victories yesterday, OVC Mixed is now the official winner of the Berkshire league 2008/2009. Our impressing record only shows one defeat to Basingstoke Mixed Up in the beginning of the season. In order to win the league we had to beat Newbury but I will get back to that later.

Final results 2008/2009(apart from one match to be played)
Oxford Mixed: 16 - 15 - 1 - 46 
Newbury Mixed: 16 - 13 - 3 - 41 
Basingstoke Mixed Up: 15 - 9 - 6 - 29 
Spikeopaths Mixed 1: 16 - 8 - 8 - 27 
Basingstoke Mixed: 16 - 8 - 8 - 26 
Maidenhead Mixed: 16 - 8 - 8 - 26 
Spikeopaths Mixed 2: 15 - 7 - 8 - 22 
Farnborough Lions: 16 - 2 -14 - 6 
Spikeopaths Mixed 3: 16 -1 - 15 - 6 

(played matches - won matches - lost matches - league points)

On Sunday afternoon we had a team of nine players; Jon, Rune, Corne, Tim, Tom, Kerstin, Helen, Maite and myself. Sam was meant to play but was too ill. To give you an idea of the OVC spirit in the run up to this day, I have copied in Maite’s reply to my email with the match details sent out one week prior;

Maïté Braud

That pretty much describes the atmosphere on the team. If I were Newbury, I would be scared!

Before the real battle we had to play Basingstoke Mixed Up. They turned out to be stronger than expected and we had a messy start, just for once. Nothing really seemed to work for us. At some point we were down 8 - 18 but managed to get 22 points before the set was over. By the second set we had recovered and won 25 - 13. Despite four serving mistakes in the tie-break, we finished off the match 15 - 10. It was a great team effort with good passings, sets as well as hits. Especially Tom and Tim did a good job. Jon was actually voted ‘Player of the Match’ - you finally got it! You deserved it.

The fight against Newbury had drama throughout the match. Although Corne and Rune hit and covered extremely well, we just managed to pull of 27 - 25 in the first set. Then Newbury reinforced their team even more and we got behind 5 -12 in the beginning of the second set. But after that we were all over them like a fat kid on a cup cake and managed to get to 12 -12 .We picked up all their tips and passed with precision. After almost an hour we could finally celebrate the victory 28 - 26, again a very close set which turned out to our advantage. Maite was voted ‘Player of the Match’ - well done! This leads me to the ‘Player of the Match’ scores for this season; 

Maite and Kerstin - 3
Jon and Helen - 2 
Sam - 1 

Thanks for this seasons guys. I am sorry that lots of you signed up for the mixed team but never got to play. Feel free to blame the bunch above. I couldn’t get rid of them! 

Thanks to Sam and Daniel for the support and cheering - are you really going to start up your own mixed team?


P.S. OVC ladies beat Oxford Brooks 2-1 tonight. Oxford rocks!