Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Relegation Triangular - Bulls stay in Division 1 next season !

Good afternoon !

Here we are, the day after...
About 48 hours ago we secured our position in Division 1 against Basingstoke & Reading Aces. Here is a brief summary of how it went.

1st Game - Oxford Bulls Vs. Basingstoke
We were all on time for this game & had a good warm-up session. We realized on arrival that Basingstoke probably had been struggling to get their players but we received the instructions from our coaches to not pay attention to this & to play all points strongly.

The 1st set started quite well for us. You won't get all the details this time as I don't have the score sheets, but I remember that we got a slight advance quite early in the set. Vaidas was in a particular good form, earning once again his nickname "Big Bertha". The good side of this was to hear Reading Aces commenting every time his was killing powerfully the points. We finished the 1st set quite in the lead.
For the second set we had for instruction to stick to the same level of playing but try some more variations around attacks. However we did not... Basingstoke took a small lead & forced Maite to take the 1st timeout. It was not a big advance (4 points) but it was enough to shake us a bit. At this point, Vaidas & Marcin were not as successful as in the 1st set even though the team was holding on. Things started to change when we started scoring more points by variating our attacks & we caught back with Basingstoke, forcing them to take their timeouts this time. If I remember correctly we entered the 20 zone together but we reached 25 before them (again I have not the score in mind but I know we won).
It looks like Simon Delavalle got MVP for his very effective blocks & his ability to take the block with him, opening a boulevard for our power spikers & making their kills even more impressive !

2nd Game - Basingstoke Vs. Reading Aces
Not a lot to say apart from the overall winner: Reading Aces. They won in 2 sets straight. Our thoughts go to the Basingstoke player who injured his knee after a bad landing. We hope that it is not a serious injury & that he will be back on his feet quickly. It is never nice to have an injured player during a game.

3rd Game & Relegation Decider - Oxford Bulls Vs. Reading Aces
This one was the big one. It would be the game deciding who would be in Division 1 next year. No pressure. A good warm-up & then we were in. A few changes in the line up & here we go. I could develop on how amazing we were, on how we were struck by transcendence or other bulls*** but the truth is that we played well. The defense was in place, giving good passes to our setter, the setter was making good decisions, the middles were getting the block with them & the spikers were killing the points. The first set was quickly finished to our advantage.
No change for the line up on the second set. A very similar second set to our previous game, we allowed Reading Aces to take the lead a little bit, we then managed to refocus, caught back . And then a good succession of pressured serves sent us +4 points ahead. And there was no coming back from this!
Marcin got MVP for this game with good serving & annoying attacks.

And this is how we made sure to be once again in Division 1 next year, where we will play against Oxford University for the 1st time.

It is with sadness that we have to announce that it was the last game with Vaidas with us, but he will be always remember as our "Big Bertha" literally powering through the enemy lines. He will now on play in London.