Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mixed Team - Match X18 @ Loddon Valley

Good afternoon,

Last Sunday the mixed team played @ Loddon Valley its 6th fixture against Farnborough & Spikeopaths 2 and got good results. This time everyone was in the leisure center in advance, and we even got the team list and the match fees sorted BEFORE the games started !!

1st Game - Oxford Vs. Farnborough
The team on court for the 1st set was Helen, Karina, Corne, Kerstin, Simon & myself. We decided to keep a more offensive set up that Karina would be playing setter, myself playing off-setter. The boys were then covering the center positions, and the girls were covering the outside positions. We received the first service from Farborough, won the point, and scored another 3 points in the row putting us in the lead first at 4-1 & then 9-4, forcing Farnborough to take their first timeout. It had a bad effect on us, and they then reduced our advance to 11-9 forcing me to request a timeout because I could feel the stress building up in our minds. We gathered up an went back into our game, re-increasing our advance to 18-12 (and forcing Farnborough to use their second timeout at 16-9). And this was enough to keep us in the lead until the end. We won the first set 25-19.
The second set of this game saw the first participation of Kathleen to a mixed game (replacing Helen). The second set started on a much tighter basis. Both teams were fighting really hard each points, covering tips, picking up stronger attacks ... We were first in the lead 8-7, but then Farnborough took the lead 12-11, 13-12, 14-14, 15-15. This last score became the turning point of the game because we got stuck in one rotation & Farnborough used our disorganisation to score 3 points in a row, forcing me to take our first timeout. It was effective and we caught back 18-18, then 19-19 ... You would have felt the stress building up. We were then in the lead 21-20... And then at 23-22 Farborough got the turnover. Their number 10 served 3 times ... We lost the second set 25-23.
For the 3rd set I put back on court the initial team, and the pitch was clear: "No time to mess around". I have to say, our team followed the advice. 1-1, 2-2, 5-3 (timeout taken by Farnborough), 8-4, 9-6, 12-8, 14-9, 15-11. 1st game won !
Kerstin got the MVP title doing what she usually does - Being our best asset !

2nd Game - Oxford Vs. Spikeos 2
The team on court was Corne, Karina, Helen, Simon, Kathleen & myself. We head started the first set, being in the lead 6-4 & then 11-8 and it was time for Spikeos to take their 1st timeout. It had a good effect on them and reduced the point difference to an even 12-12 & took the lead 14-13, and increasing their advance to 18-14, at which point I had to take a timeout. I could feel that our team was starting to feel the tiredness from the previous game. We managed to reduce Sipkeos advance 21-19, they took their second timeout at this point, and finished the set in the lead 25-19. They were clearly stronger than us during this set.
It was then time to raise our game to win in 3 sets. Kerstin was back on court, replacing Kathleen. Same type of even start with really long rallies. Spikeos took their first timeout when being led 2-4, turned the score over and forced us to take our first timeout being led 7-10. Each point got fought for by both teams 12-11 for Spikeos, 13-12, 14-14, 17-14 (we took our second timeout at this point), 19-17, 20-19 (Spikeos took their 2nd timeout at this point) ... Pressure was building up clearly, and some amazing rallies were played, not given up by any of the teams. We knew we had to win this set. We took the lead 22-21, then Spikeos caught back 23-23, 24-24 ! It was it: Sudden Death ! Their Nb. 20 was serving. He was scoring on average 4 points in a row when he was serving. He scored the first service & got a match ball. But we kept up and caught back: 25-25. Helen took the service and finished the set !! We won the second set 27-25.
Same team, same speech: "No time to mess around !!" 2 Aces and we were in the lead 3-1.  Spikeos caught back 5-5, but we got the side change in the lead 8-6. At this point we made our effort, and increased our lead to 13-10. And this time their was no coming back from the opponent, and we won the 3rd set 15-10.
Simon got the MVP title this time for his front line strong presence on block & attack.

+6 POINTS FOR OXFORD !! We are now 3rd in the league (12 played, 26 points), stuck between Maidenhead (10 played, 25 points) & Newbury (12 played, 27 points) - And there are only 4 more games to play. The end approaches ...

Spikeopaths Mixed 1 12  10  2  22  7  32  
Newbury Mixed 12  8  4  19  10  27  
Oxford Mixed 12  8  4  18  14  26  
Maidenhead Mixed 10  8  2  17  6  25  
Spikeopaths Mixed 2 12  5  7  15  17  20  
Basingstoke Mixed 12  6  6  13  16  19  
Farnborough Lions 12  3  9  10  19  13  
Spikeopaths Mixed 3 10  1  9  5  18  6  
Newbold Mixed 10  2  8  6  18  6  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oxford Mens 2 - Struggle ...

Good morning all,

I finally found some time to write about Mens 2 previous fixture.

1st Game - Oxford Vs. Basingstoke
The team on court was Simon, Sam, Richard, David, Sultan & myself as standard players, and Sebastien as Libero. An even start from both teams, no one giving easy points to the others reaching a score of 6-6. Then we got going & scored 5 points in a row, forcing Basingstoke to take a timeout at 6-11. It was needed as they reduced the point difference to 13-14. Once again, we gathered up to re increase that difference to 18-14. This time, no timeout from Basingstoke but just an enormous will to win. And they caught up with us 20-20, forcing Sam to take a timeout. We thought it would be enough as we got the next point, but it was without counting on Basingstoke's determination. I think our old demons came back & we lost our confidence against pressure, allowing them to score in a row the next 5 points. They won the first set 25-21.
The second set started with the same team on court. This time, Basingstoke took a head start, forcing us to take a timeout at 5-11. A few more points and the coach decided to bring some fresh blood on court, swapping Sultan & Mark. Without giving any easy points, we reduced their advance to 2 points: 14-12 and they took a timeout. It was effective, and they increased again their advance to +5 points, advance they would keep until the end of the set and the game. Final score was 25-20 for Basingstoke.

2nd Game - Oxford Vs. Farnborough
A harder game for us against the 3rd of the league led by the Twins. The team on court was Simon, Sam, Richard, Sultan, Sebastien (L) & myself. A rush start from us, forcing their first timeout at 2-5 and then in the lead by 12-5. This is when they started catching back and reduced our advance to 14-11 & then took the lead 17-15. I might repeat myself, but old demons, pressure ... The next score was 22-17 when we decided to bring Sultan back on Richard. But it didn't make a difference and we lost the first set 25-17 after loosing 5 points in a row.
The second set started with Farnborough in a really strong state in the lead 7-3. We then maintained this score difference for the rest of the set: 13-9, 15-11, 18-14. In the end, I think we lost our confidence in making a come back, and Farnborough used it to finish the set & game 25-18.

We're now fighting not to be in the last triangular, and we will need wins to manage this...

Oxford Mens 1 16  15  1  30  7  45    
Spikeopaths Mens 1 16  14  2  30  5  44    
Farnborough Vipers 16  8  8  18  18  26    
Maidenhead Mens 1 12  7  5  17  11  24    
Basingstoke Lions 14  4  10  8  20  12    
Oxford Mens 2 14  3  11  7  23  10    
Reading University 14  0  14  2  28  2    

Monday, February 13, 2012

Men 1's shock loss – first time this season

Oxford went down to Reading to play Spikeos, the team second in the league, and Reading University, who are bottom. We went with three regular players missing: Jeremy, Lukasz and Martijn, but had drafted in a new player, Anders, and dusted off an old boy, Neil. The rest of the team were Steve, Gerard, Rune, Gabriele and stand-in captain and coach, Jon.

Oxford 1 v Spikeos

We started well with some good passing and generally good all-round play. We were 2 or 3 points up all the way to 16. At this point, we did not move into the next gear to finish off the set. In fact, the passing went off a little, giving Jon less options for setting. This gave Spikeos the chance to take the lead, which they took, winning 25–22.

The next set went very much the same way: Steve made a couple of great pick-ups in this set but we did miss the big hitting and blocking that Jeremy and Lukasz bring to the team. We lost this set 25–19. MVP: Gabi

Reading Uni v Oxford 1

For the next game we changed the system and – because of an unfortunate left-hand spike – Jon made Neil libero. This game went well with the passing being better and we got some good attacks in ourselves. Reading had a couple of big hitters, but Jon had this covered with some huge blocks. Anders was working hard and started to hit very well. We won 25–14, 25–17. MVP: Anders

Tight at the top

Oxford Men 1 16 15 1 30 7 45

Spikeopaths Men 1 16 14 2 30 5 44

Farnborough Vipers 16 8 8 18 18 26

(written by Neil)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Oxford Mixed - Important Victory !!

Good evening all !
It's with some pride & pleasure (and a delay of a few days...) I can announce to you that Maidenhead's winning spree has come to an end last Sunday ! But first things first, it's time to tell you what & how it happened !

First Game - Maidenhead Vs. Oxford

After an erratic drive in the snow, we finally arrived to the Loddon Valley sport center. And we were playing the first game against Maidenhead. Standard warmup & finally we were on. The players on court were Annika, Simon, Anna, Karina, Corne & myself. The first part of the first set is quite tight but in our favour (2-0, 5-3) and then Maidenhead started making the break using the "not-good-looking-but-f*****g-efficient-tipping-just-behind-the-block-where-there-is-no-one" technique (5-7, 8-10), forcing us to proceed to a substitution between Corne & Mark, Corne complaining that 3 long rallyes in a row caused him to loose his breath. This change had a good effect on us, and we took the lead again at this point (15-13) forcing Maidenhead to take a timeout. It was clearly useful because they restarted reducing the point difference and caught back with us, scoring point after point (18-16, 18, 20) & forcing us this time to take a timeout. But they stayed stronger and managed to secure their advance at the end of the set, finishing in the lead 25-21.
So we were on for the second set ... I didn't proceed to any change on the players on court, considering that actualy everyone was playing to a really good level. We received their first served, scored the first point, and it was then the first of a strong start putting us in the lead by far (1-1, 5-2, 7-3, 8-4, 10-5) forcing Maidenhead to take their timeout. But this time, after watching carefully how they were playing, we were not tricked any more by their tipping technique and they had no other choices (considering that the Simon & Mark were setting a strong block on the net) than rolling the ball over, giving us extra opportunities to kill the ball through short middle hits or outside diagonals. Fighting every single point was the key for us, and the advance we set up at the beginning of the second set stayed until the end (15-7, 20-11 & finally 25-14).
3rd set ... No change to line upe ... Both teams with pressure ... Maidenhead served first and scored 3 points in a row. We scored 2 but Maidenhead took the serve again, and we reached the score of 4-7 for them. And our holy server Simon arrived and managed to get us to change sides ... IN THE LEAD !! 8-7 !! The end of the set became then full of pressure and tension, Maidenhead taking the lead again with 10-11 forcing us to take a timeout... My speech was about committing to get the ball without letting anyone else take it for you, speech I had to the apply to myself as Mark & I managed to save an attack from their side by fighting for the point, which we then transformed into a point for us. And we took the lead again at this stage, forcing Maidenhead to have their last timeout at 14-12. But I served for the game and the Oxford team hold on tight. So as initially announced, I am proud to annouce that the former undefeated Maidenhead have been challenged by Oxford !! And my ego is proud to annouce I got the MVP title for this game, and I would think because I helped the team breaking Maidenhead's efficient technique that caused us the first set.

Second Game - Spikeos Vs. Oxford
Again a game in 3 sets, and we were already warmed up after our victory. The players on court were Annika, Mark, Annette, Karina, Corne & myself. The first set was a relly tough one, no team really giving any point to the other one. We started slightly behind (timeout taken at 6-9 for Spikeos) but caught back and took the lead quickly after (timeout of Spikeos when loosing 10-11). Then all the points were fought from both sides one after another (13-12, 15-13, 16-16, 20-19, 21-20) & Corne managed at this point to secure for us a +3 points advance. We won the first set 25-22.
For the second set, I swapped Annika for Anna. We were confident ... Maybe too confident as this became the turning point of the game. Spikeos did a power start forcing us to take our first timeout at 1-5. They then carried on and our will to win completly disappeared ... They were scoring point after point when we couldn't kill the ball, and their advance increased even more. I took the second timeout at 10-18 as it was necessary. But it was to late to catch back, and even if Simon, who entered in the first set at 16-19 after Mark told me he was getting cramps, managed to spike a few impressive short attacks with his left hand (???) in their 3 meters during the set, it was just not enough... We lost the second set 25-14.
For the 3rd set Annika was back on court & this time Karina was on the bench with Mark. Spikeos managed to secure an advance of 4 points on their 3 server, and we had to try to catch back. But it turned up it was just not possible ... 7-3, 8-4, 9-5, 11-6, 12-7, 13-8 ... 14-9 ... 15-11. The MVP title went to Simon for his impressive short attacks during the whole game.

Third Game - Spikeos Vs. Maidenhead
I will only mention that Spikeos won that game, causing Maidenhead to have their second defeat in the same day. It was a quick game, and Spikeos won by 2 sets to 0, 25-22, 25-17.

We are 4th in the league so far, but I'm sure we can improve this position with some more victories !!

Maidenhead Mixed 10  9  1  19  4  28    
Spikeopaths Mixed 1 10  7  3  16  9  23    
Newbury Mixed 8  6  2  14  6  20    
Oxford Mixed 10  6  4  14  12  20    

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Men 1 fight to another two wins in the BVA league!

On Sunday 29 January, there was a much anticipated fixture lined up. A clash of the Titans between the top three teams of the Berkshire league. This fixture could increase the gap or even things up between us and Spikeo’s at the top. The Oxford Titans for the day: Steve, Jeremy, Gerard, Lukasz, Martijn, Jon, Rune, Gabriele. We travelled to Kendrick School in Reading to find a bitterly cold hall. Noting that times are hard for private schools as well, we had an extra few minutes to warm up including some team bonding in the changing rooms.

First match: Spikeopaths v Oxford 1
In the first match against Spikeopaths, our closest rival for the title, we got going slowly and needed a time-out at 10-15 to re-group. From there on, we started to play better volleyball and put them under some pressure. We were even at 20-20, only to give them another couple of points at the end of the first set and losing it 24-26.

With the knowledge that we had to cut out our mistakes to win the match, we went into the 2nd set with confidence and some fresh legs from the French bench. It went point for point at the start until we won a few points on our service including a ‘Stonewall-J’ block from Rune and some nice pick-ups from our libero Steve. Spikeo’s struggled to keep up with us and could not do much more than win side-out points. At 17-14 ahead, Jon and Martijn served the next 8 points between them to win the 2nd set comfortably 25-17.

Therefore, a nail-biting decider was upon us! With some good volleyball from both sides, points were hard to come by. Some impressive defence and hitting got us 8-6 up when we changed ends. Then with some exciting calls together with a great fighting spirit from our side 8-6 became 12-10, 14-10, 14-11 and 15-11!

Oxford wins - Woopwoop!! MVP: Gabriele!

Second match: Oxford 1 v Maidenhead
Straight after our first game, we went into our second match against Maidenhead. We were warm from our previous match and they were a bit cold. This showed in the match as we raced ahead to 14-7. However at that point, the ‘high’ we were on from the last match disappeared and we could not finish the point. They were picking up everything and time-outs at 14-11 and 14-18 did not help much either. Then, after 12 points in a row, we scored a point and celebrated as if we had won our first ever point! We could, however, not turn it around and lost the first set.

We had to dig deep again and fight back in the second set, where we managed to settle down and win some good rallies. We were always a few points ahead and did not give them the chance to get back ahead in the set. From 15-13 up we continued to win points on our service and closed the set out at 25-19.

So another deciding set to play! We had played several deciders this season and won them all, and our intention was to do so again. Some good volleyball was mixed with a few ‘scrappy’ points. All points count and so we changed ends one point ahead at 8-7. Rune served twice in a row to increase our lead and at 13-13 it was all square again. Lukasz then served twice for us to win the set 15-13.

Another 2-1 victory for Oxford Mens 1. MVP: Gabriele!

Four more matches to go this season!

(written by Martijn)