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.

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