Sunday, November 30, 2014

Introducing the Oxford Owls!

In a friendly game against St. Claire's at the Ferry Sports Centre, junior ladies team Oxford Owls played their first matches as a team. After two and a half months of training since the start of this school term, we joined up on the 18th November and played three games against the opposing teams. It was a fun experience and has set us up a great start for future matches. The team consists of Nadia Decker, Lucy Farha, Llueve Rico, Lucy Clark, Izzy Ellse, Sophie Bonin and Mei Ling Ya.

That same week, we headed off again on Saturday for our first BVA development tournament at Oxford High sporting the signature blue Oxford volleyball shirts. We played three games overall against Reading University, OVC and Abingdon. The day was a great learning opportunity, each player on the team improving significantly throughout the day and being able to show their skills on court.

Our next tournament plans to be in December, and a follow-up friendly match against St. Claire's once again in January. We're all determined to train harder and bring back a win.

Written by Mei

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Two great victories for the NVL Ladies in Cambridge (16/11/14)!

On a foggy Sunday morning: six women, a man, two cars and 6 balls (and some food left from previous matches) travelling to Cambridge......
After 1.30 hrs drive, the Oxford ladies' team and its coach were ready to start the warm-up for the first match... being careful of not losing too much energy!
With only six players, this was the line up: captain Annika middle (first match) and outside (second match), Sonia setter, Fede outside (first match) and middle (second match), Nela outside, Elisa opposite, Andrea middle.

NVL Ladies vs Cambridge: 25-15, 25-8, 25-14

The first half of set 1 was quite hard for the girls, but as soon as they started to get organised on the court they didn't let the opponents have a second of a break! Precise passes and sets together with wonderful hits and serves. Only one exhortation from the coach: "try to tip, girls!" unfortunately, his suggestion did not collect the expected results ....! Anyway, there was no need to ask for any time-out during the entire game! In closing, all the team members were amazed by the happiness of the coach for their astounding performance!

NVL Ladies vs Northampton: 25-11, 25-12, 25-12

Exhausted from the first game, the team had a 20-minute break to replace the lost calories (eating chemical cakes, peanut-butter sandwiches, etc.!). After a brief warm-up, the team was ready to restart playing.... A little change of role for this game:  Fede played middle and Annika outside. Great performance of Fede playing as middle and perfect harmony with Sonia: well-deserved MVPs!!! Great serving and hitting was the game strategy! During the second set the ladies had a moment of blackout....Jon had to ask for the first time-out! No panic, the players started again to play at a high level and brought the game to a wonderful conclusion!  Well done girls!

Written by Elisa

More success for Oxford Sharks!

Still plagued by injury, some well-deserved holidays and other commitments we were playing again with a different team in some unfamiliar positions. Big thanks to Giulia from the Globetrotters
helping us to have a full team. With no sign of any tiredness from having played already two games beforehand, she integrated straight into the team and played exceptionally well, voted MVP in the second game.

The team: Helen and Tomas middle, Giulia and Andrey outside, Stefano opposite, Karina setter.

First match: Basingstoke 25:13 and 25:7

Not much to say about this match. We started well, felt confident with the rotation, served well (I can only remember one serve into the net but won’t mention this any further!) and overall played some good volleyball. The second set was mostly a one-man-show when at the score of 9:7 Stefano started serving making it up to 24:7 (did I promise I would not mention whey we did not make it straight to 25?).
MVP: Tomas

Second match against Maidenhead 1 25:18, 25:21

Despite Maidenhead having lost the second match against Basingstoke (I need to mention some excellent second reffing from Tom he did not only call several rotation faults but also was most confident in explaining them to the protesting team!!!) they definitely gave us a more of a game. Again our game was very well structured; reliable serving, controlled passing, hitting and blocking. With all hitters being on good form there were not enough rallies to distribute enough sets for the 5 people ready and keen to hit, sorry!
MVP Giulia

Written by Karina

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Bull's stumble...

Last weekend we played against Farnborough & Maidenhead... Not quite the expected result...

Oxford Bulls Vs Farnborough Vipers

Farnborough had finished quite high in the league last year, so we went in with a "Challenger" approach. The brief from our coach Maite was to put pressure on the service and keep on recycling the ball. The team on court for the first  set was Simon, Seb, Arinaldo, Anders, Ben & Hussain, myself swapping as libero with the middle players Simon & Anders. Not a really good start as we were not really followinthe instructions of the coach.... And they were in the lead 9-3. SWe were not in the game yet and we could not manage to reduce the advance until they reached 15-4. Maite took the first timeout and reminded us, rightly, that we were here to play. Good timeout as we finally managed to get the momentum but it was not enough to catch back on their advance and they won the set 25-19.
But the second set was different. This time we followed the instructions and the result was evident: Farnborough was not able to take the lead. We stuck to the score and forced the Vipers to take the first timeout at 7-5. Still very tight; each team picking up & recycling the ball up to 12-11. And then Tomas, who had entered for Hussain, gave us a comfortable 19-15. Not giving against pressure and playing the ball until the whistle and we managed to win the second set 25-20.
And we were back to the start. This time Farnborough started by blocking us and managed to change sides ahead 7-4. We fought back but they kept the 3 points lead until then end... Bulls MVP title was given to mysel for a few decent pickups.

Oxford Bulls Vs Maidenhead

We played 15 minutes after against the receiving team Maidenhead. Team on court was Simon, Seb, Tomas, Anders, Ben & Hussain. Strong start from the Bulls putting us in the lead 11-5. Good pickups, good rallyes and keeping recycling the ball got us to manage up this advance up to 18-11. Then Maidenhead upped their game and caught back slightly forcing Maite to take the timeout at 18-15. It was enough to break ther momentum and we concluded the set 25-21.
For the second set, Arinaldo had replaced Hussain. A much tighter start were the 2 teams kept thall going up to 9-9. Then the Bulls managed to get a slight advantage of 2 point, which continued & increased up to 4 points @ 20-16. Maidenhead. And their nuber 45 served 3 times making them reduce the advance to 20-19. We managed to sideout but they got the service back straight after: 21-20. And beleive it or not, after being led 20-16, Maidenhead managed to finish the set very quickly 25-21. We just could not pass the ball for 8 serves in a row!!!
So there we were, facing the wall of the 3rd set again... You could see that the players looked tired & frustrated as we felt we should have done the job during the previous set. Same line up than the previous set but a difficult start and we changed sides being led 7-5. Maidenhead kept tipping right behind our block and we did not manage to get it to stop. Arinaldo was then replaced by Hussains, Maidenhead scored another 3 points to reach the 10 and Maite took a timeout. The key message was "Play!!!" If we do not play, we have no chance to win. It worked as a trigger as everyone dug from their last ressources, and
Seb managed to serve 3 in a row, then shortly followed by Tomas - 14-14 !!! Maite was so stressed she had taken her top off... But they  stuck together and scored the next 2 points to finish the set & game 16-14.  Ben got the MVP title for his accurate shots securing precious points.

On the whole, we were a bit frustrated as then Farnborough won against Maidenhead 2-0 but we had put up the fight. In summary, a Bull's stumble but not a fall as we brought back 2 points.

Oxford Ladies NVL Team wins second cup match!

On Sunday 9th of November, Oxford Ladies NVL Team played their second cup game against Ashcombe Dorking (from NVL Division 1), and won 3 sets to 1. It was very close game with only couple of points difference in every set.

The first set went in Oxford’s favour, the team showing strength to stay in the set until the very last point, and leaving the coach with a mild heart attack after every lost point along the way.

In the second set, Ashcombe had seven non-returnable serves in a row, and went on to win the set. The last two sets, however, turned out in Oxford’s favour.

Although playing a team from a higher division, Oxford Ladies showed better volleyball in every aspect: setting, hitting and serving. However, there were several unforced errors, which didn’t do anything for Jon’s state of health.

Written by Amra

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Bulls roar to first victory of the season!

The Bulls first matches of the season saw us playing against both of the Spikeopath teams. The first being against Spikeos 1 before officiating and the last game against Spikeos 2. Our coach Maite’s request before the game was that we beat Spikeos 2.

Bulls vs Spikeos 1
The first matches of the season saw us without our libero Ghislain and against last year’s runners-up.
The Bulls started out the game slightly poorly with many serves letting us down and the opposition got an early break of a few points. However the bulls were recycling a lot of what was being hit at us and at 19:16, with Spikeos in the lead, we looked to be having momentum as Spikeos took a time out. After the time out we looked strong but in the end they were too strong with us losing the set 25:21.

The second set was not as close with Spikeos taking a 12:2 lead quickly. Spikeo’s came out strong and we came to the second set dipping in level from how we ended the first. Number 58 in particular caused us problems with some very strong spikes. However, as a team we also had some very strong spikes. The final score of the set was 25:10.

The MVP of the match went to Ben.

Bulls vs Spikeos 2
After having played one game already our coach Maite had some comments – mostly on serving which had let us down in the first match. We had seen Spikeos 1 beat Spikeos 2 so had some idea of strengths and weaknesses in the team.

In the first set our serves had greatly improved – attacking the corners with power and accuracy. We managed to give ourselves a few point lead. However Spikeos wouldn’t go down easy and kept up with us. Some good hits from the team and continued strength in serving got us the first set 25:19.

The second set however despite starting strong Spikeos beat us to 15 points. Serving was the key to our game and it kept us in the set despite a slight lull half way through. There were also some impressive spikes from Arinaldo in particular and some others. In the end the second set ended 25:21 to Spikeos.

The third set was the decider going up to 15. Spikeos got serve (I think :/) but when the team changed sides the Bulls were comfortably in the lead and still with serve. The point difference was enough for the bulls to ride the waves of the remaining seven points winning it 15:7 and granting the Bulls their first win of the season.

The MVP was Seb.

Written by Ben

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Vollox are 4 for 4!

Vollox played their first home fixture of the season on Sunday 9 November, bringing their record for 2014/15 to Played: 4, Won: 4!

Vollox vs Newbold

Newbold have been a tricky team in the past, so Vollox approached the game with caution. We benefitted from officiating the first game of the triangular (giving us a chance to observe our opponents and work out a strategy), but Farnborough beat Newbold so quickly that there was barely time to take it in!

We were missing a middle, so Martijn stepped in to fill the void for the first game, and he lined up alongside our regulars: Jon, Adam, Rune, Gabri, Leonard, Gareth (starting on the bench). The first set was not pretty, and what seemed like a fairly comfortable game was only won by 2 points in the end, 25-23 in Oxford's favour.

A sense of complacency and a lack of desire were to blame according to coach Martijn. A bit of squad rotation saw Gareth come on for Leonard in the outside position, and the team performed slightly better in the second set. We established a small lead early on and built on it to see out the set relatively comfortably - 25-19.

MVP was Jon - the most consistent player on court, who earned his second consecutive MVP.

Vollox vs Farnborough Vipers
Having experienced quite a few hard-fought victories against the Vipers in recent seasons, Vollox knew they needed to up their game in the second fixture.
They delivered the perfect start as they raced into a 13-0 lead! A combination of solid serving from Jon, good blocking through 2 from Adam & Gareth (who took over in the middle while Martijn reverted to his usual outside slot), and some cracking hits from Leonard put the first set out of reach for Farnborough as Vollox eased to 25-11.
The second set didn't come so easily as Farnborough improved their play and Vollox tossed them a few free points with poor serving. Farnborough were marginally ahead early on in the set, but Vollox took control when Gareth went to serve at 10-11 and they scored 10 straight points with a mixture of aces, hits, and hard-earned rallies. Farnborough didn't give up, but had too much left to do and so Vollox finished with their foot slightly off the pedal at 25-18.
MVP = Jon again! Hat-trick!!!
Written by Gareth

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Some great volleyball from the Eagles!

On Sunday 9 Nov Oxford Eagles travelled to Basingstoke to take on two teams we'd already played this season: Maidenhead and Basingstoke. With only six players, the line up was: Karina and Helen as middles, Giulia and Asia outsides, Stef as setter and Izzy, out of her usual position of outside, playing opposite. Overall, there was some great volleyball displayed and a good fighting spirit amongst the team. 

As the first match of the morning the Eagles got off to their usual slow start, the scoreboard was pretty much point for point as we were giving away easy hits, not using spaces and giving back free balls. At 13-13 we decided to step it up, using our serve as a good source of attack. Stef set the pace serving strongly on Maidenhead allowing us to take the lead. After this, Asia continued great serving to pull away point by point, with the help of solid defending from Karina and blocking from Helen, we took the lead and didn't let Maidenhead back in the game. Once we switched on, we took the set convincingly 25-15.

The second set started as much as the first with long rallies and passive play from the Eagles, as we found our rhythm again we quickly pulled away. Maidenhead took a time out at 19-13 but it wasn't enough to catch up and after some great passing and strong serving, we won the set again 25-15. 

MVP: Asia
Knowing this would be a tougher match, the Eagles went onto court with high energy and good fighting spirit after the first win. The first set displayed, in Neil's own words "some of your best and worst volleyball this season". We had some brilliant passes, setting and hits, and then lost points to basic mistakes. After Basingstoke pulled ahead at 6-1 the Eagles called a timeout and took some points back putting more pressure on the opposition, some great setting from Stef and clever angles at the net helped put points on the board, but it was too little too late and Basingstoke took the lead 20-15. We couldn't close the gap and Basingstoke took the set 19-25.

The second set saw a different Eagles team who started strongly and showed some brilliant attacking thanks to outsides Asia and Giulia. Supported by some great defending of big hits from Izzy and Karina, the Eagles looked comfortable with a seven point lead at 18-11. We went from strength to strength and convincingly won the set 25-17. 

In the third set Basingstoke put the pressure on with strong serving and took the lead 8-4. After a timeout, a great run of strong serving from Stef brought the Eagles back in the game to 10-9. The Eagles continued to show great commitment to every point, covering blocks, diving for balls and impressive back court hitting- we were point for point! At 13-14 Basingstoke closed the set with strong a strong middle hit and they took the set 15-13. A close and disappointing result but a good game all round and we all had fun :) 

MVP: Karina

Written by Izzy

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Another successful match day for Oxford Sharks!

Due to the injury of Sharks' excellent setter (and an overall fantastic player) Felipe and the absence of our very own 'chocolate queen' (and a phenomenal player!) Karina, the team had to adjust their line-up. After numerous e-mail and face-to-face discussions, and a couple of test games on Thursday, the captain Andrey settled on the following: Helen & Tomas for the 'middle', Andrey & Flora for the 'outside', Stefano for setting and Izzy to play opposite. This line-up worked well, the team played great volleyball and demonstrated their usual fighting spirit which resulted in two wins on the day, each in 2 sets! Well done Sharks!

Sharks vs Spikeos 3

The games started with Sharks losing a serve, after which the teams traded a few points until Tomas got hold of the ball at 4:4. On his service Sharks got ahead by 2 points, then lost a point, then again won 2 points on Andrey's serve and from that point on the game pretty much continued in the same way until the end of the set at 25:19 to Sharks! It always takes a bit of time for Sharks to get up to speed, this set was no exception - only really by the end of the set Sharks seemed to start playing their usual level of volleyball.

The first half of the second set the teams were neck and neck until about when the score went into double digits, and then fantastic consistent service from Flora, Tomas and Izzy put Sharks so far ahead of the competition that Spikeos 3 seem to have given up and lost the set at 25:13.
MVP: Izzy

Sharks vs Spikeos 1

Sharks' assessment of the competition put Spikeos 1 in the first place in terms of how challenging the teams would be. This proved to be accurate, Spikeos 1 had 3 strong hitters and 2 good ladies + 1 phantom lady player. However, this did not present a serious challenge for Sharks in the first set, from the start Sharks were leading by 5 points mainly due to excellent serve by Stefano. Spikeos never really caught up with Sharks, comfortable set for Sharks ended at 25:22.

Early on in the second set Sharks got in trouble. Andrey called a time-out at 0:5, Sharks re-set themselves quickly and started fighting back. Spikeos did not give up and kept pressing hard, and the score reached 2:13 to Spikes! Then the Sharks finally defended well and scored a point, and Tomas got hold of the ball on the serve. Consistent serve and a fantastic team effort followed, and now the Sharks are close behind 9:13. More fighting and good effort on both sides, Sharks class and great team psychology eventually brought them up to 21:21. Now it's about who has better nerves... and it was Sharks of course, which they demonstrated numerous times before. As our team name suggests, Sharks know no pain, and no fear! The team pulled forward as one - a warrior spirit at its best! The final score for the set is 25:23 to Sharks!
MVP: Flora

Written by Andrey