Tabs spiked and shoed

Jess Forsyth reports on Oxford Volleyball's Varsity dominance

Last Saturday, the Oxford Volleyball Club Men’s and Women’s 1s smashed their way to Varsity victory at Iffley at the annual Volleyball Varsity. Oxford retained the Champion title, following an away win last year at Cambridge. The Men’s 2s snatched back their title from the Light Blues after a game of straight sets, while the women’s 2s unfortunately conceded to a strong defensive Cambridge W2 after three sets.

M1 played some ferocious volleyball and conceded only a single set against a team ranked higher in the division than them, a continuation of the team’s winning streak stretching back to February last year at BUCS finals. The opening set saw a nervous start from both sides, but a rhythm quickly established with Oxford in the lead. Although play slipped briefly with some scrappy rallies to concede a tight set to Cambridge, it only acted to prolong the enjoyment for the watchers as Oxford pummelled their way to fourth set victory. Jonas Pollex, the team’s captain, commented, “The entire team performed when it mattered and we were carried by the fantastic atmosphere surrounding the game – we would like to thank everyone who came to Iffley to contribute to such a memorable experience.”

The women’s game was characterised by accuracy and precision. The Dark Blues orchestrated a straight-set win in a fashion reminiscent of a choreographed routine. The Oxford Women 1s have won two years in a row after just losing 3-2 in a thrilling match two years ago in the last home Varsity. Although Cambridge pushed off to a few points’ lead in the first set, Oxford ramped up its front court offence to match. Cambridge played with a very strong defensive game, but Oxford’s persistent attacks pushed them over the edge for an exhilarating close win in the first two sets. The start of the third set saw Oxford pull away, and their determination pushed them to win the final set in just over 20 minutes as the Cambridge defence crumbled into scattered play.

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M2 has won three out of four of its last Varsities, and after last year’s loss to Cambridge, M2 arrived at Iffley hungry for Varsity revenge. The game was riddled with clever offence and a strong front court attack that left Cambridge in Oxford’s wake with a straight set washout. M2 has had a very successful season, working hard on building a balanced competitive team; it has paid off, finishing at the Student Cup ranked 20th in the country, and placed highest of any university men’s second team competing. Riding high after Varsity success, the team now buckles down for the coming months, with their sights set on promotion to the first division in the local Berkshire Volleyball Associa- tion league.

The women’s 2s have found themselves in a Varsity rut for the past three years, and while hopes were high for this year’s Varsity with an experienced team on the line-out, the Cambridge team proved worthy opponents, winning in straight sets.

With success at Varsity all round, the club turns towards the finals of BUCS and local league play-offs with hope that the rest of the season continues in a similar vein. Further ahead, the Intercollegiate League and the very popular four Max Cuppers games in University Parks next term provide the perfect opportunity for the University community at large to get involved in the growing volleyball scene.