Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Oxford Mens 2 - the show is not over

Last Sunday the Oxford mens' team 2 was playing against Maidenhead & Reading University. The results were not the ones expected but we still brought back some points with us.

First game: Oxford Men 2 v Maidenhead
The team on court was Vivien, Sam, Andrey, Simon, Adam and myself, all of us being supported by Robin our Libero (Sebastien being on the bench after his slight thumb sprain during the previous Wednesday training). We got the first service, scored the first point, then Maidenhead scored the second but Sam secured a +5 advance quickly. So far so good, Maidenhead were struggling in getting into the game, and Andrey and Simon used it to increase the advance to a really confortable +8 (11-3). We were clearly concentrating enough to play well, & Robin was doing his defensive job nicely, allowing Sam to distribute the balls to our power hitters. The set ended up quickly in 16 minutes 25-15 for us.

No change was done on the main line for the second set, but this time, Maidenhead was much more present, fighting for all the points, pushing the balls in the corners and in the holes and holding tight to the score. There was no more than 1 point difference up to 9-9, and we took the lead up to 14-10. However, it was without counting on Maidenhead's will to win and they caught back 15-14, forcing Sam to take the first timeout of the game. Our concentration was going away, and Maidenhead used it to their advantage, increasing the point difference up to 19-16. I think the team gave up the set at this point, and we finally lost the second set 25-19.

So we were on for the 3rd set. No change again to the team on court. We unfortunately had to put Vivien on the bench (replaced by Mark) after a bad reception after a jump. After winning the first set, we had no reason to believe we couldn't beat them. The beginning of 3rd set was like the previous one, really intense, and every point was fought for. We unfortunately had to put Vivien on the bench (replaced by Mark) after a bad reception after a jump at 3-3: Ankle sprain. But this time, we made the effort and secured the side changes at 5-8. Maidenhead recovered the service, scored another point but we re increased our advance to 11-7. A few more points, and it was 13-8. And again, we had a bit of a bad moment, and we started to fear that Maidenhead were coming back: 13-12... "It's all in the head ..." and we recovered the service : 14-12. Our first game point! Strong team spirit from Maidenhead and they scored again: 14-13. But I am happy to announce it was their last serve, and we finished the 3rd set 15-13, winning the game! The MVP title went to Robin for his amazing reliability as a libero, helping our setter Sam to distribute the balls.

Second game: Oxford 2 v Reading University
For the second game the team on court was the same, but I was playing libero (for the first time in my life!) and Robin was playing off-setter. Reading started quite strongly, but we were present, avoiding the point difference to increase. But the overall level of play was quite messy, preventing any of the teams to take advantage on the other: 5-6, 10-9, 11-13, 16-13. The turn of the game happened 17-16. The rallies were still messy, and the luck we had so far (helping us to keep no point difference) disappeared completly. And their number 5 finished the set scoring 6 points in a row. Reading University won the first set 25-18.

No change on the lineup for the 2nd set. But unfortunately, again we were not consistent in our game and Reading Uni used it against us. They increased the point difference quickly to reach a secured 11-6, and even more 16-9 (when Sam took our second timeout). They had a strong team spirit and our moral was down, leading us to make mistakes due to lack of confidence, lack of talking and lack of concentration. The final result was not much different from the 1st set and we lost 25-17. Simon got the MVP for this game as his presence at the block helped us not to be more beaten.

So in the league now, we are still fighting for the participation to the triangular. Not the best position but still defendable. So the show is not over...


Oxford Mens 1 16 15 1 30 7 45

Spikeopaths Mens 1 16 14 2 30 5 44

Maidenhead Mens 1 16 10 6 24 13 34

Farnborough Vipers 16 8 8 18 18 26

Basingstoke Lions 16 5 11 10 23 15

Oxford Mens 2 16 4 12 9 26 13

Reading University 18 1 17 5 34 6

Thursday, March 15, 2012

'Oxford rulz'! Double win for Ladies 1

On Sunday 4th March Oxford Ladies 1 played at home against Maidenhead and Farnborough. The first game was of course the 2 visiting teams and we were a bit surprised to see Maidenhead take the first set. Farnborough looked more comfortable in the second set but defended a couple of match points before they were able to win it 28:26. They were back on form in the third set, which they won convincingly but the game confirmed what we already knew – our games wouldn't be easy.

Our first game was against Maidenhead who started with strong serving so we started off with 4 points behind. We caught up slowly and really found our game in the second half and managed to take the set 25:18. The second set started much better and we displayed a very consistent performance, winning 25:16. MVP was Magda.

Next up was Farnborough, the only team to take a set off us this season - second in the league, they had only lost to us so far. The set started with neither team managing to break away, almost taking turns to lead by one or two points at the most. Coach Jon took a time out at this point, making sure we knew we had to work harder in order to beat this team. So we did! The blocking by Kerstin and Magda in particular made a huge difference to our defence and brought a newfound confidence to the team. We won the set convincingly 25:19. The second set turned out to be a little harder again and Farnborough managed to get a 2 point lead at 20:18, however another time out gave us the confidence to pull ahead again. Karina deserves a special mention at this point: a perfect tip, excellent net coverage and a fantastic backcourt hit that landed very close to the the opposition's three–metre line. We took the set 25:23 and the game in two sets – excellent result. MVP was Maïté.

A special thank you to our supporters who not only brought along an internationally inspired 'Oxford rulz' banner but also provided some excellent vocal support. Thank you Neil + 1, Andrey, Simon and Dan!
(Game summary posted by Annika Voss)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Oxford Mixed - More points!

It is with great pleasure I can announce that the Oxford Mixed team has added another 6 points to its total!

First game: Oxford v Spikeos 2

After a long drive in the sun and a quick warm up we were ready to fight against our direct challengers Spikeos 2 (5th in the league with 20 points). The initial team on court was Karina (setter), Giulia & Helen (outsides), Simon & Corne (middles) and myself (off-setter). A tough start with good fighting from both teams but we took a slight lead 4-3. Then I served to increase the score to 8-5, we got the service again straight after, Helen served another 3 to increase again our advance to 11-6 (first timeout for Spikeos 5-11), and Simon finished to set up the first set by increasing the score to 18-6 (second timeout for Spikeos). The end of the set was a bit more relaxed from our side, and we finished with a comfortable advance of 25-13.

For the second set, I changed slightly the line up, having Annette and Andrey replacing Karina and Corne, Helen playing now middle and Andrey outside. Annette was our setter. This time, Spikeos were much tougher at the start of the game, putting themselves in the lead 3-9 and forcing me to take a timeout. We had some problem passing and we were not on top of our game. The message was clear: "To catch back, we have to start now, point after point, and the first objective is to reduce the score difference to 0!" We didn't start this chase straight as Spikeos carried on scoring, but we were not giving points away: 11-5 for Spikeos. Then we started changing slightly our way of working, I was taking more sets, Andrey started attacking with more strength, and Simon decided that no more balls would pass him at the block. And the advance of Spikeos started reducing: 13-8, 14-11, 15-12, & then ... 16-16! We were back in the game and Spikeos took a timeout at this stage. My message to the team was clear: "We've caught up – now time to finish!". Spikeos took the lead again at this stage 19-18 but we then scored 4 points (mainly because Simon was on fire) in a row bringing us in a good 23-20. We scored the next one 24-20, the Spikeos served and won 3 points, but they didn't score the next one and we won the second set 25-23. The MVP title went to Simon for his blocking spree which lead us to victory.

Second game: Oxford v Spikeos 3
This time, the team on court was Karina and Annette (setters), Helen & Corne (middles) & Andrey & myself (outsides). Spikeos served the first point, scored, and we scored the second. And the first half of the set stayed like this. The level of volleyball we were playing was not our best, but it was enough to keep up: 3-3, then 9-6 for Spikeos, then 11-8, and then back to 12-12 and 14-14. We finally took the lead at this point, deciding it was time to finish: 17-16. Corne served the next 4 points putting us in a stronger lead 21-17, and Karina finished the set 25-17.

For the second set, I was on the bench with Helen, replaced on court by Simon (middle) and Giulia (outside). Again, a slightly dodgy start but we were in the lead quickly 9-7. The main problem was that the team on court was not talking at all, but actually was less messy than Spikeos. The point difference increased again up to 19-10 and at this point there was no turning back from Spikeos. We won the second set in 19 minutes 25-14. Corne got the MVP title for his good presence in the game.

Maidenhead Mixed 14 11 3 23 10 34
Spikeopaths Mixed 1 12 10 2 22 7 32
Oxford Mixed 14 10 4 22 14 32
Newbury Mixed 14 9 5 22 12 31
Spikeopaths Mixed 2 14 6 8 17 19 23
Basingstoke Mixed 12 6 6 13 16 19
Farnborough Lions 12 3 9 10 19 13
Newbold Mixed 14 3 11 9 24 10 *
Spikeopaths Mixed 3 14 2 12 7 24 9

The last fixture will decide the final results of the league. It will be tight!

As a treat, and because you've read until the end, you can find attached HERE some pictures taken during the game

Friday, March 2, 2012

OSDS - Lindy Hop and Balboa

Because we love volleyball but we can do other things as well, and because dancing is GREAT, let me introduce you to Lindy Hop & Balboa - 20's & 30's swing dances.

The Oxford Swing Dance Society (OSDS) is organising regular weekly classes and weekend workshops around the Oxford area and are always looking for new people to join in and participate - just ask Simon, recently recruited dancer. Check their website:

Contact Ghislain if you want more information.