CAMBRIDGE VC & ANGLIA RUSKIN UNIVERSITY vs READING ACES
3-1 (19-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-12)
Team: Charlotte (C) Alexa, Annalisa, Ilze, Jessi, Lilly, Madi, Marta, Mirto
Sunday 27th November 2016, North Cambridge Academy, Cambridge
After a 3-week break without a match, the team returned to league action as they welcomed Reading Aces to the North Cambridge Academy. The teams met in the first match of the season with Cambridge taking that match 3-1.
Another different starting six for the first set saw Jessi, Charlotte, Mirto, Alexa, Ilze & Lilly making her first start of the season at opposite. With Cambridge serving first, the tone was set – Mirto pushing her serve into the net. This was to be the same result as successive players found the net with their serves. Reading on the other hand had started well. Their serves were strong and their attacks were easily getting past the near non-existing home defences. Reading were racing away with the set, and with them leading 12-6, Cambridge took their first time-out. An early substitution followed as Mirto was replaced by Annalisa as the Cambridge coaches tried to stem the flow of points going Reading’s way. It was the Reading setter, Fogarty, who was running the set. Her clever plays were pulling the home defence all over the court. Towards the end of the set, Ilze indicated to the bench that she needed to come off, and with Marta not being 100% fit, it was Madi who went on to replace her and play in the unfamiliar role of an outside hitter. The home team did rally slightly better with Lilly the main attacking force, but it was not enough and Reading Aces took the first set comfortably at 25-19.
It was the six players that finished the set who started the second, with Mirto and Ilze remaining on the bench. A single change for Reading Aces as Brivule replaced Steinitz. Cambridge were still not playing anywhere near their best but were now at least competing. The teams were involved in some long rallies but neither could get a run of points. With the score at 12-12 and Alexa struggling to get into the set, Mirto took her place on court. It was Mirto, from the service line, who gave the home team the push they needed. Some good serving put Reading under pressure. With Lilly and Madi both attacking well, a small gap opened up between the teams. This grew further with an ace serve from Lilly and a block kill from Mirto. The gap was now 5 points, at which point Reading took a time-out but to no avail. The home team did enough to close out the second set 25-21 and levelled the match at 1 set all.
Mirto retained her place at the start of the third set with Reading’s Steinitz returning to the action at the expense of Versluys. Cambridge started the 3rd set better and with Mirto dominating from the service line, the home team reached the first technical time-out in front for the first time in the match. Reading hit straight back and took the lead, at which point the home team took their own time-out at 8-9. Reading kept up the pressure, winning the long rallies and at 10-14 down, Cambridge had their remaining time-out. Some sharp words from the Cambridge coaches and the team were back on court. As has been the case in most matches it was Madi who was the catalyst for the team’s revival. Her smart serving put the away team under pressure and forced them to return lots of free balls that were duly returned in the form of solid attacks by Charlotte and Mirto. A run of 5 points saw the home team back into the lead, which they were not to relinquish. Another run of 5 points quickly followed again, all started from the service line – this time by Annalisa. Cambridge rolled the score over and took the set 25-21 and a 2-1 set lead.
Into the 4th set and a single change for Reading Aces with Brivule replaced by the returning Versluy. There was confusion on the Cambridge team at the start of the set as Coach Keith sent one starting six onto the court but had submitted the wrong line up. The net result being that Lilly had to come off court to be replaced with Ilze, who went into the unfamiliar role of opposite. The home team struggled to start with, but after a few points, they had the line-up sorted and started to play. Charlotte started the push with her serving and despite good defensive plays on both sides it was the home team that were scoring the points. The home team had taken charge of the set. More strong serving, this time from Mirto backed up by attacking shots from Madi and Ilze and the gap between the two teams increase. Cambridge were 8 points clear by the time it came around to Madi’s serving. A combination of good serving and some unorthodox attack shots from Ilze gave the team another run of 6 unanswered points and the set and match all but over. The home team quickly scored the remaining points taking the set 25-12 and the match 3-1. Not the team’s best performance for the first hour but producing the performance in the end.
Jessi picked up her second MVP of the season.
Match Stats: Annalisa 8 Kills 2 Block Kills 1 Ace, Lilly 10-0-0, Charlotte 9-0-1, Mirto 5-1-4, Madi 6-0-3, Ilze 6-0-1, Jessi 2-1-3, Alexa 0-1-1