Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Another step closer to stay in League 1 for the Bulls !

Last training saw us leaving with a warm and comfy feeling that we could take on Spikeos 2...

This is what happened last Sunday if you were not at Headington Girls School!!

1st Game - Oxford Bulls Vs. Spikeos 2

Very clear instructions from Maite the coach: Play it simple! Recycle the ball and keep the flow going. Don't take risks and get warm first. She put on court Tomas, Seb, Luca, Simon (with his zombie red eyes...), Hanif & Adam - again myself entering on the middles as a libero.
We got the side out immediately after the first serve from Spikeos & secured a +2 advance. Spikeos kept on going fighting the points and changed the score from us in the lead 9-8 to them being in the lead 12-11. Fine tipping from Adam & consistent block drag from our middles made us stay in the race behind Spikeos: 18-17, 20-18, and finally 22-20 when Maite decided to take the first timeout to break the routine. It worked indeed and their next serve was out - 22-21. Next serve from Luca followed by a good rally concluded by a block from Simon - 22-22. Again Luca to serve, and Spikeos recycling the ball into a free ball. Good run up from Simon but Seb decided to try a 2nd ball, picked up nicely and attacked on the outside, picked up by Luca, and well finished on with a line shot touched out from Adam - 23-22. Spikeos took their timeout at this time. It didn't affect us - and we scored the next point again - 24-22 & Set Point !!!! Next point again, we recycle the ball well, but Spikeos force us to make a mistake, and we are now at 24-23. On the next point, Adam from Spikeos strongly challenged at the net with Simon and unfortunately won - 24-24 and Sudden Death !!! Top spin serve from Spikeos picked up and attacked, Spikeos recycle the ball nicely, and we are - again - having a good rally. But this time we force one of their players to penetrate under the net - 25-24!!! Set Point!! Again!!! First attack from Spikeos picked up by Seb, Hanif to set, and Adam to attack, but recycled by Spikeos, then Luca to receive their attack, Seb to set and Adam to finish strongly with a diagonal kill: 26-24!!!
No change on the team on court.  A slightly more ectic start seing an immediate lead of Spikeos 4-0, but we piked it up very quickly, even getting in the lead 13-10(timeout from Spikeos at 11-8). Adam kept showing all his moves at the net, and the entire team looked strong with some good pickups and no panic when having to perform a disaster recovery. It probably was the turning point of the game, as we increased our lead up to 15-11, but Spikeos hadn't given up. They regathered and reduce the advance up to 18-15 and showed some good moves, and caught back up to 19-18... As mentionned in a previous report, you may know that sometimes we break under pressure. But not this time: secured serves, strong defence & decisive hits & tips lead to a secured 23-21. A couple more serves from Tomas and we had our victory.
Adam obtained the MVP title when he showed to everyone he was defintly on fire.

And for those who want to put some images on this game, I invite you to follow this link to the videos uploaded on Spikeos' website - Courtesy of Spikeos!

http://ytchannelembed.com/video.php?id=QF_jm3NgHJs&t= > Set 1

http://ytchannelembed.com/video.php?id=KVbBoFqv5ho&t= > Set 2 (Partial unfortunately...)

2nd Game - Oxford Bulls Vs. Spikeos 1

Friendly game in which we did well, even though it was not possible to beat the current runner's up of the league. 25-18, 25-21.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

More wins for the Bulls !!

Again, late report, but it is for the good!
The Bulls went to Newbury on the 09th February to face Basingstoke & Newbury Men (Friendly).

1st Game - Basingstoke Vs. Oxford Bulls

On this day, Jon had agreed to coach the team, and we meet him at the sports hall. After a 20 minutes warm up, the team on court is Seb (setter), Adam & Luca (outsides), Simon & Anders (middles) and Ben (opposite), with myself replacing the middles as libero.

A very big start from our master server Seb puts us in a comfortable lead 7-0: it felt that Basingstoke needed a few more minutes to warm up... And they did! They slowly caught back points after points up to 10-8. At this time unfortunately Anders - slightly injured - had to be swapped for Tomas - already injured previously. But this change made us re-focus on the game and we increased our lead again up to 14-9, and then 17-12. This time, Adam was serving and managed (with the help of the team of course...) to bring us to a comfortable 24-13 (Basingstoke used their 2 timeouts at 21-13 & 23-13). We got slightly scared when Basingstoke started reducing the the point difference (and we were probably expecting that they would make a mistake but they didn't), but Jon decided to put Hanif on court replacing Luca and we finally managed to secure the last & needed point to win the first set 25-19.

All this drama... Us with low momentum... Them with high momemtum... And here we are in the second set, already lead 8-3 after 3 rotations. The only change from the finishing team was Anders back on court. Jon took a timeout to make us refocus, but things carried on not going well: 16-8. Normally, at this stage, our team panics and everyone starts making mistakes. Some people would say it didn't happen this time! We started catching back point after points, picking up more balls, scoring points directly instead of pushing the ball on their side, reducing slowly their advance: 18-10, 19-14, 21-19 (they took their first tactical timeout), 23-20... And Anders served 4 times allowing us to reach the Famous Sudden Death 24-24!!They scored 1 point, we caught back, we scored 1 point and they caught back: 26-26!! Final 2 serves from Adam finally allowed us to celebrate our first victory in 2 sets straight!

Our little Ben got the MVP title, granted for his accurate, consistent & sneaky cross shots.

2nd Game - Newbury Mens Vs. Oxford Bulls

Not a lot to say: It was a friendly game but we won it. Only good things for the future !!

See you all this coming Sunday for the next game in Headington !!!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Oxford Spires sports hall closed next Tuesday

The Oxford Spires sports hall will be closed next Tuesday 17 February, as work is being carried out to build a pathway. The hall will reopen the following week, so training is on again on Tuesday 25 February. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Two amazing wins for the Sharks!

On Sunday 2nd February, the Oxford Sharks travelled to Reading to face Maidenhead Mixed 1 and  Spikeopaths mixed 1 (both teams higher ranked). After a nice drive down the A34, the team needed some coffee before warming up. And soon the caffeine kicked in.

The Sharks started with their usual line-up: 
Kerstin, opposite 
Masia, outside 
Helen, middle 
Andrey, outside
Tomas, middle 
Felipe, setter 

First match
Maidenhead Mixed 1 vs Oxford Sharks 
This game was surprisingly easy, but we nonetheless maintained our focus.  With a good start to the first half of the set, the Sharks displayed a confident performance taking the first set 25-14 after 17 minutes. The second set started with Maidenhead serving, but the Sharks gained serve almost immediately and kept their momentum going to take the second set. With a final score of 25-12, it was a good win for the Sharks, although an unfortunate event near the end of the match resulted in a Maidenhead middle going out with an ankle injury (and Helen

taking her place to play with Maidenhead vs Spikeos 1 in the final match of the day). After a fantastic display of good volleyball, Mighty Masia earned Most Valuable Player! Well done Masia!!

Second Match 
Spikeopaths Mixed 1 vs Oxford Sharks 
After a short break, the Sharks jumped back on court to face the home team. A shaky start put the Sharks 5 points down. A tactical time-out called by Andrey the Captain broke the rhythm of the match and gave the Sharks a little time to reset and start again. The Sharks then jumped back on court with a great positive attitude and produced an amazing comeback with some quality three-touch volleyball and great defense! Tom had a fantastic service series, and Felipe dived all over the court picking up some extremely difficult balls, lifting the Sharks' spirits even further and storming back to take the lead! 26 minutes into the first set, the score was 23-23 when Helen did some amazing blocks against Spikoes' main middle spiker, which allowed the team to defend the ball and transfer it into successful attacks.  Andrey scored cleverly with cheeky tips and poweful attacks.  At 25-24, Masia picked up a great ball covering the block and Tom smashed it away on the second touch. Oxford Sharks 26, Spikeopaths 24 after 27 minutes! 

The second set started very well for the Sharks. However, Spikeopaths were determine to fight for the match! And once again the Sharks fell behind untill a time-out and a service series by Tom (yet again) brought us back into a winning spirit. The Sharks kept cool and started playing smartly, tipping behind the block. Great attacks from all gave the Sharks the edge to storm to victory. Kerstin had a fantastic game, and her strong hitting and smart setting earned her MVP! Second set 25-22 for the Sharks! A very close game...  some may say a little too close! But the Sharks rose to the occasion to take two wins, displaying an exceptionally good team spirit! Felipe definitely deserved the title of best defender of the game.

Well done Sharks! 

This team effort match report was brought to you by Felipe, Masia and Kerstin!