Women’s Volleyball: Bitter Aftertaste in Cup Finals

Cambridge ladies perform well, but have to settle for a 5th place finish at the Student Cup Finals. Report from CHRISTIANA SYMRILLI.

Cambridge volleyball Christiana Smyrilli volleyball student cup finals 2013 womens volleyball blues

Last year, the women’s volleyball team managed to turn themselves from outsiders to finalists in the Student Cup Finals.  It was an amazing achievement that the ladies hoped to reincarnate this year.

They arrived in Norwich to face Leicester, Middlesex and Durham in their pool. Having a proper warm up, high spirits and hopeful feelings, the girls entered the court with confidence. However, tiredness and the early morning could not be overcome by the Blues, who tried to do as much as they could against Leicester. Nothing seemed to be going well though, feet not moving and hands not coordinating, and as a result the Cambridge women lost 2-1. It was a very bad beginning to what they had hoped would be a successful event.

Could the class of 2013 repeat the success of 2012?

Not letting their spirits drop or the disappointment dishearten them, they came on court against Middlesex. Playing much better than the previous games, with solid blocks, good defenses and improved sets, the Blues upgraded their game significantly and beat Middlesex 2-0, with a high points difference. Having seen how strong the Durham team was, with most players playing there with volleyball scholarships, it was clear that realistically, with the day’s performance so far being below average, the Blues wouldn’t beat them, and that’s how it happened.

The Blues played their best game of the day but still it was not enough, and they lost to Durham 2-0, but with the respectable score of 25-16, 26-17. It thus all came down to whether Middlesex would beat Leicester. And indeed, Xenia’s “volleyball god” helped Middlesex win against Leicester with 2-0 sets, which brought the Blues to the second position in their pool (due to set difference) and therefore qualified them to the final eight of the tournament.

The early morning start may have proved costly for the ladies, but ultimately, it wasnt to be their day

Sunday, however, brought the ladies against a team that had beaten them twice already this year: Loughborough. They had first to overcome the feeling of inferiority and believe in themselves if they were to win against their opponent in this quarter-final. But morning games always seem to be the worst for this Blues team. Although they played reasonably well, they still didn’t manage to reach 100%, and it was beyond their power to win against Loughborough. And so the Blues suffered their third loss this year against this team.

The third encounter with Loughborough this season resulted in the same result: defeat

Playing for the prestige and the chance to get the position they now deserved, the ladies had their next game against Sussex, the team they will be facing in a BUCS knock-out game this coming Wednesday. Knowing that it would play an important role on how they would feel going on the court on Wednesday, the ladies were determined to win this game and prove their superiority against Sussex. Trying out a new setter, though, made the game a bit unstable at the beginning and resulted in the first set being lost. However, coming back in the second set with the setter adjusting to the game and the players adjusting to the setter, there was a much more coherent team that beat Sussex and brought the score to 1-1. The game was judged at the third set, with the Blues being passionate about this victory and therefore winning the set and ultimately the game.

The last game of the tournament would determine whether Cambridge would be 5th or 6th and was against Bournemouth: a respected opponent with a strong volleyball background.  Heavy feet and tiredness after two days of volleyball meant that both teams wanted to finish this as quickly as possible but equally wanted to win. In the end, it was the Blues that enjoyed the victory and earnt the respectable and well-deserved 5th position in the Student Cup Finals.

Now, the Cambridge Volleyball Blues, both men and women, are focusing on the forthcoming knock-out games that will determine whether they go to BUCS finals.

Photos courtesy of Tom Porteous.