Oxford beat Cambridge 22-25 18-25 25-12 25-22 15-7Oxford’s volleyball team went from hell to heaven last Wednesday as they turned around what was looking like a straight humiliation at Iffley Road. As the canon-like booming of the two sides’ spikes died down, however, the Blues were left victorious by three sets to two, leaving Cambridge to ponder how they let slip a two set lead. Throughout the match, Oxford were the classier side. Led by captain Jack Turner and giant spikers Greg Dochuk and Anders Karup, they had too much power and skill for the Tabs when they got their plays right. Early on, however, they rarely did. No matter how tall your spikers are, nor how acrobatic your captain, they are of little use if you serve into the net, or misread your team-mates’ set ups. The Blues had suffered some injury enforced changes, but their play was too inaccurate to be excused by this, as even experienced combinations misfired. despite the solidity of some of the Cambridge play, they were largely gifted the first two sets by Oxford, 22-25 and 18-25. At this point, the Blues’ supporters were getting nervous. The Volleyball club has organised itself to ensure women players always attend men’s matches, and vice versa, and the results were impressive: a dozen or so knowledgeable, fanatic and incredibly vocal supporters, cheering every Oxford play, even when supposedly acting as line judges. Back on the court, some choice words must have been exchanged in the Oxford huddle, for they came out a different side. Rather than gift Cambridge an early lead through needless errors, they tightened up their play to move into a comfortable lead. Despite one Cambridge timeout after another, Oxford’s lead soon grew from 7-4 to 16-9. Aided by a dig by libero denis Zuev from almost six feet outside the court, Oxford closed out the set 25-10. The fourth set was to follow. To their credit, the Tabs raised their game, but the set turned with a series of seven successive winning deliveries from Jeff Young, including an ace. Though Dan Maranhao was arguably lucky to get away with a yellow card after ‘verbalising the referee’, the Tabs never recovered from Young’s winning series, losing the set 25-22. In the fifth, tie breaker set, the Tabs’ heads finally went down. Oxford raced to a 6-0 lead, and by the time the Tabs got into the set, Oxford had it, 15-7. Turner, commenting on the win, said "We came out very slowly, and we took a lot of time getting our heads in. But we were always much more aggressive, we just needed to play simple volleyball and not get carried away. It’s only our second game, so it was just a question of getting match fit and in practice."ARCHIVE: 5th week MT 2005