Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sharks take on two Spikeos teams!

On Sunday 19th January, a team of just 6 travelled to Reading to face two Spikeopaths teams. The Sharks were: Helen (middle), Tomas (middle), Felipe (setter), Kerstin (opposite), Andrey (outside) and Izzy (outside).

Game 1: Sharks vs Spikeos 3
After a very quick warm up the Sharks started well, picking up a few points whilst getting used to a new line up and the rhythm of the game. When Tomas came to serve it seemed that it was game over for the Spikeos, they couldn't get the ball back and he managed to score 14 points in a row with a couple of aces in between. There were a few pick ups and hits from Spikeos but they were easily defended and returned in attacks, thanks to great three-touch volleyball from Oxford. Once Tomas had lost his serve the Sharks were up by 11 points and the Spikeos never had a chance. Score: 25-9.

The second set went much the same, with good defence from the Sharks, excellent setting and attacks. Spikeos 3 struggled to get the ball back and the set ended 25-13, leaving Sharks with a comfortable win.

MVP: Izzy.

Game 2: Sharks vs Spikeos 2
The Sharks knew this would be tougher competition and were ready for a challenge. The Oxford team started very well, keeping calm and playing great volleyball. When Spikeos added more points to the the scoreboard the Sharks made a few panicky mistakes at the net which gave Spikeos a confident lead. The pressure got to Oxford and a few crucial attacks were hit out of court. At 19-22 Sharks called a time out to calm down. Once back on court Oxford fought hard and clutched 4 points in a row. Unfortunately it wasn't enough, and Spikeos narrowly won the set 23-25.
With more drive and determination, the Sharks went out to play 3 sets. As with the first set, the Sharks took a comfortable lead with the help of good serving and blocking. The Spikeos upped their game and started playing the first and second balls over the net- a tactic the Sharks were not prepared for. The addition of a number of attacks landing in the net meant the Spikeos took the lead again at 22-19. The Sharks just couldn't pull back and lost the set 21-25. It was an excitingly close match with good volleyball played on both sides.

 MVP: Andrey

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Oxford Bulls' First Victory !!

Ladies & Gents,

For the first time this season Oxford Bulls have brought back a victory & 3 points. I know you haven't heard about our results so far, but I am sure you will understand that it is hard to advertise defeat...
Anyway, I am using this opportunity to put some light on our season so far.

We haven't been very lucky and over the first 3 fixtures, we only managed to bring back one point. This sole and unique point, we brought it back after throwing an amazing set but we fell back in our old demons - lacking luck and consistency - even if we were applying to the letter our coach's recommendations.

But last Sunday, this is how we played !

1st Game - Newbold Vs Oxford Bulls

We had decided to start 2014 with a new strategy. I had spent the last 2 trainings learning the libero position, and Maité decided to give it a go during a real game. So the first 5 on court were Seb, Luca, Simon, Ben, Adam & Tomas. We started serving but Newbold got it back immediately, scoring then 6 points in row up to 1-7 when Maite took the first timeout. Some could say that taking 6 points straight is something whiwh happens to us very often... But we caught back 9-9 pretty quickly. And we carried on with a good level up, taking the lead 15-14 and up to 19-19. But Newbold, strong of their experience, maintainted the tempo and took the lead again 22-19: Second timeout!! We caught back 24-24, then Newbold scored 25-24, then again 25-25, but Newbold made the difference up to 27.

No change to the team on court, and this time we took immediately 5 points to Newbold. We maintained our lead but they slowly caught back and at 11-11, we had to do everything again. And we did: 13-12 and then 17-15. If I remeber correctly, there was one very disputed rally which we won. Nothing could stop us and we got this second set up to the end 25-19. Consistency at blocking & defending made the difference.

And we started the 3rd set on a high but so was Newbold... 5-5 after 10 very intense points. But we were in the lead when we had to change the sides: 8-7. Again a few points very disputed up to 10-10, but apparently, we just kept going and even if New bold took a timeout at 14-11 to try to break the tempo, there was no coming back and we obtained our first victory of the season 15-11 in an overall 54 minutes. Sebastian, our amazing & dedicated setter, got the MVP maybe for his good decisions during the game. I would also like to point that Newbold are currently 3rd of the league, so winning against them was a good performance.

2nd Game - Spikeos 1 Vs Oxford Bulls

So were were up for the battle after our first victory, and probably did we look a bit more dangerous than the team with only 1 point that we were 2 hours earlier. Maite put on court almost the same team, replacing Ben by Dan. Similar start than the previous game, we lost immediately 8 points (8-1) and Maite took the timeout... But we couldn't stop them from scoring points after points, and they increased the lead up to 17-8, winning easily the first set 25-11.

There was no way we would fall without fighting. No change to the team, and this time we took the lead up to 6-4. and even 9-6. But Spikeos are not 2nd of the league for no reason, and made the effort to caught back and take the lead 14-12. And this was the start of a very intense end of second set. we always managed to maintain our advance by 1 point, up to 20-19: A slightly argued ref decision when the point was granted to Spikeos after a knee injury of Luca - replaced immediately by Adam on court. Again we made the effort to take the lead 22-21, but they caught back - and unfortunately finished the set 25-23. The MVP title went this time to Luca as he gave everything - and even more - for the team.

Well, that's it for now. Next game is next Sunday against Oxford Vollox & Newbury. Don't forget to come and support your Oxford teams!