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European Universities Sports Association Championships 2007

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EUSA Blog

We will update this daily with a paragraph from Croatia!

Loughborough Volleyball EUSA Blog

 

Friday 13th July

 

Training has now finished. It's gone reasonably well with a couple of friendlies thrown in for good measure, close defeat (15 - 17 in the 5th) against Sheffield Hallam and a last set win against a team made up from some Newcastle Staffs players, both teams from the National Division 1.  It's now a relaxing weekend with gym training, a game of golf on Saturday and a barbeque at Cobby's on Sunday.  Watch out for the golf results tomorrow!

 

Saturday 14th July

 

After a week’s solid training the time had come to test the group fitness.
So a round at Shepshed Golf Course was arranged to see who would come out on top. The leading favourite Mr Benjamin Hall was troubled on the 15th where he shot an
unusual 10 and Phillip Ebner pipped Matt ‘Bunga’ Rogers by a couple of
shots on the 18th. A special mention should go out to Chris Stott, who managed to get all the way around without breaking any clubs, a first for him! Tomorrow is a day of rest and that is what we intend to do!

 

Sunday 15th July

 

It’s the last day before the trip. A barbeque at Cobby’s – well with the summer weather it’s cooking the meat in the oven and just a quick grill on the barby. Everyone’s talking about the weight restrictions (on the cases) 15kg it seems everyone is under the limit – just. All leave early for an early night we have to meet at 6!

 

Monday 16th July

 

After an early start the team waved goodbye to a muddy kneed Amy Seaman and Matt Rogers who has unfortunately been kept behind due to work commitments and headed down to Stansted.  The new Union President and Sports President elect were the taxi drivers as the team headed for a morning flight to Trieste.

 

We arrived in Rijeka about 17:30 local time and eventually settled in to our rooms. The draw had been made at the Head of Delegations meeting, and it pitched us up against the runner's up from two years ago in Portugal, Slovenia, and Greece, Estonia and Mainz from Germany.

 

The opening ceremony took place on the dockside. All the teams were introduced to the assembled crowd and due to some swift movement backwards when volunteers were sought, I ended up carrying the Team Sign.

 

On the social note we were at the Karolina Bar down on the dockside and  mixed with all the other teams. Darren has set two tasks; for George to get us pictured with all the Womens’ teams (we have 3 teams so far) and Ebner a picture with all the Men's teams - we have yet to start with this one!  I tried ordering my beers in Croatian causing some amusement to the barmaid, who had originally been quite sullen. The charm worked and by the end of the evening Ben, Riding, Coops and myself benefited from the effort as we all receive a free pint!

 

Tuesday 17th July

 

We have had our first training session and had to take about 3 litres back on board - this time water with the temperature in the sports hall topping 40oC!  The first match is against Estonia at 16:30 this afternoon.  As well as our games we have training every day, even the day when we already have 2 matches!  We have no games just training on Friday so that will be the day we take a rest and explore the beautiful region surrounding Rijeka.

 

So here it is the start of our real European Campaign against the Estonian University of Life Sciences from Tartu. Unfortunately we froze in the first set and were 0 - 5 down before Rob Flay had a good spike down the line to score our first point. After that it was more a reliance on serves being missed for our points as we lost 10 - 25. The second set saw a lot better start and we actually led (all be it only 2 - 1)! George had a good block and James Cooper had a good spike to keep us in contention be we were still reliant on Estonia's mistakes. The set was a loss 18 - 25.

 

The third set saw us scoring the points rather than relying on Estonia's errors. Bastian Maass had a kill with one of his spikes and Coops followed that with two more as we stayed in contention.  Stotty had two ace serves as we pulled back to within 3 points at 16-19. Estonia were not finished they pulled ahead again and Dovey's block staved off what was probably inevitable which was Estonia taking the set 25-18 for a 3-0 win.

 

The evening saw us making friends with the Greeks and Germans who were to be
our opponents over the next 2 days.

 

Wednesday 18th July

 

Today was our match against the group leaders, The University of Mainz from Germany. Armed with a few large hitters and early success, the match was looking like a real challenge. However, having settled a little more and with more experience of passing the European jump serve we were able to surprise the German side, finding ourselves level at 21 each in the first set. Unfortunately we were unable to take the initiative and lost the set 23 - 25.

 

Overcoming their initial surprise by the level of British performance, Mainz started very well in the second set taking an early lead. We were able to react and found ourselves only 2 points behind at 17-19. After losing a run of 4 points it was too late to recover and we found ourselves 2-0 down. Galvanised by our ability to compete at this level, we went 6-0 up in the 3rd set, and then extended the lead to 12-3. An excellent performance from the whole team allowed us to get on top of the Germans, and we started to dominate taking the set 25 - 15. We continued the good work in the fourth set 25 – 23 to tie the match at 2 sets all.

 

A very close 5th set meant that there was only 1 point in it until the change of ends, where the experience of the German side began to show, pulling away to take the set 15-12 and the match. A very positive performance, promise for what’s to come over the next few days...?

 

So tonight’s the night we get dolled up in our finery only I’ve just been told the reception is just for Heads of Delegation. Oh well the lads have brought their stuff to look neat and tidy perhaps we can let them look smart – no one will mind the little joke – or will they? It seems the Head of Delegation is in trouble because 2 or 3 others found out and aren’t dressed up leaving the rest looking very smart!

 

A new drinking game stems from the evening – how best to erm describe it? Well before you name any place or country you have to precede it with erm or 5 press-ups wherever ever you are immediately.

 

Thursday 19th July

 

The lads gain their revenge for last night as on the way to the first match I’m asked a load of questions to find myself set up for 20 press-ups. It could have been more had I not been told what the game was having seen 5 press-ups performed on the bus on the way to the match!

 

Today was always going to be our toughest day both in the fact that we had 2 matches and that they were both against teams that led the group and were favourites to go through to the top division of the second phase of the competition.

The first was against the team that finished 2nd in 2006, Slovenia. Matt ‘Bunga’
Rogers was introduced to the starting line up having flown in from England; this joined with the momentum gained from their unlucky 5 set defeat to Germany the previous day led to an impressive start with Loughborough leading the set until the final stages where Slovenia showed their quality and took the set 25 - 23.

 

The second set was a one sided affair which we lost 25 – 14 but Loughborough pulled together for one final push in the third set losing it 25 - 22. The team were very happy with their performance but knew that they had to recover in preparation for their 2nd match vs. Greece later that day.

 

We had learned earlier in the competition that the Greek Captain and off-setter, “John” was coming to Loughborough in September, thus enhancing our chances of a return to this stage next year. He did not show us any favours as he knew they had to have a good result to maintain their push for the top eight competition. We stayed in contention through much of the first set but a loose few points towards the end saw us lose it 25 – 19. The second set – well… John showed us no mercy as he managed to get his timing right on his jump serve. Coops bore the brunt of the serving as John pounded out the points. It was a disaster as we lost the set 25 – 9!  We did gather ourselves together slightly for the third set. Again John blasted the serves at us but we lost the set 25 – 13.

 

There was not more for it than to go out and try and relax. We had delayed celebrating Stotty’s birthday until we had a free day following and we also had our referee, Debra Smart with us as a treat (well we thought it was for her being amongst such a fine band of fellows!) for all the hard work she had been doing for us. She did start to have second thoughts as we all turned up on Hawaiian gear but it was too late to escape!

 

A swift couple of pints at our established local was followed by a visit to the evening’s entertainment on board the good ship Arca Fiumana. Absinthe seemed to be the drink of the night though the elder amongst us stayed well clear sticking to beer.

 

Friday 20th July

 

The team had a well deserved day off from matches and went to the beach for
some rest and relaxation when everybody had eventually raised themselves from their “pits” around midday! A slightly eventful bus journey to the beach was the start (!) of
the day. We had found a row of empty seats on one sides of the bus and on leaving the bus station realised why – the sunny side! Flay seemed to be suffering most with a pool of sweat almost the size of Lake Windermere forming under where his elbow bent. Matters took a turn for the worse when a number of Croatian chavs tried to break on to the bus and ride for free. They succeeded in kicking the back door of the bus in and then in trying to fix it ripping it from its hinges. Rather annoyingly, this meant all the bus, about 50 people had a delay and Coops had to be restrained from causing a diplomatic incident of ripping said chav’s head off! We had to sit in the sweltering 40 degree heat waiting for a second bus to come. When it did it was already standing room only so a team decision was made to wait for the next one. The remaining 35 passengers managed to fit on the bus, the last two moving their backsides to allow the doors to shut. They say every cloud has a silver lining, not that there were any clouds, and sure enough a couple of minutes later along came an empty replacement bus. This time we had the shady side and whistled through to our destination with our any further stopping only to pull up behind the bus we didn’t take in time to see the 843 passengers alighting! The empty bus also allowed Bunga to catch up on a number of press ups on the seats across the aisle! We made it to the beach and proceeded to play a selection of highly physical team games including a tennis ball. Needless to say, the team consisting mainly of middles won.

 

Saturday 21st July

 

Waking up at 6am, we were really up for this morning’s game against our
English rivals, erm Sheffield Hallam. After an early breakfast, we went to
the sports hall and warmed up. The warm up went well, but we went 7-1 down
right at the beginning. Heads started to drop, and we never recovered.
Fatigue set in from the strenuous week, finally losing 3-0 (25 – 12; 25 – 21; 25 -19). Despite some good defensive work from Libero, Andrew Riding, the team were beaten convincingly in the first set. Sets two and three were an improvement, but still disappointing compared with the team’s previous performances.

 

With the match tomorrow being 11:00 a few of us venture to the Dva Lava (two lions – they’ve lost one). We get the free bus back now we know it exists. There’s a lot of running up and down on my landing and I’m told by Ebner in the morning it’s a forfeit on a German card game!

 

Sunday 22nd July

 

Having avoided Sheffield around the town the night before we’re back for a match against Lyon, France. Another team we spoken to and made friends with at the various social functions Hopes were high that we could get something out of this match but Darren hoping to spark some life into the team changed the rotation for the first set. Unfortunately it didn’t work as we lost 14 – 25 but it was worth a gamble. Reverting to our original line up we improved only to Toulouse, sorry to lose 25 – 19. The third set also showed further signs of improvement but we still lost 25 – 21.

 

That meant we had one chance to redeem ourselves the last match against Turkey. We should be able to beat them surely. The match is at 9 in the morning so there is a mixed reaction to going out in the evening. In the end the substitutes and Flay join me for an extra drink at the Opium Buddha (who says I look like Buddha in my Adidas’s (Speedo’s)! There’s a live band playing the twist but the floor’s too sticky. The referees arrive having had a night out so we have some fun with them but it’s an early (01:30) bus back to the hostel and it’s a mild 26c temperature!

 

This time I’m awake brushing my teeth when I hear the running up and down the corridor. I turn to the doorway to see someone “flash” past! On going to the door and looking down the corridor I see two stark b naked Germans entering the room opposite mine being slapped with a flip flop by another stark b naked German standing out side the door. I make sure my room is locked that night!

 

Monday 23rd July

 

We’re up early and off to the match Turkey 1, or TOBB; the University of Economics and Technogy. We cruise through the first set 25 -15 with Rob Flay again showing the way. Even Ben can make an appearance in this match, though his spike cover directly in the line of Flay’s approach was slightly out of position! Ebner and Stotty get their chances in the second and third sets as we continue to dominate and both make good contributions. We take the second set 25 – 19 and lead well in the third. It is quite appropriate that Ben, who has had to sit and suffer with the coaches for the first six matches, is the person to score the last point for us.

 

Deb’s is refereeing Mainz v Tartu in the 15/16 place. I told her it would be close and it is, 19 – 17 in the fifth to Mainz and they show their appreciation of having our support with an “England, England” chant.

 

We now return to the hostel and say goodbye to Riding and Debs as they leave for the airport and then we return through for the Men’s final.  Turkey 2, a side made up of players all doing the same course starting in the same year, take on Russia. Russia take the first set but Turkey draw the first blood (from the nose of the Russian setter!). In the end Turkey take the match 3 – 1. Whilst others return to the hostel, Bunga, Dovey, Ebner and myself settle down for a quick drink. We only have time for two pints and the Women’s final is over!

 

Amongst the awards the best setter is the Turkish player who prepares by throwing up postcards he has been given by the Russian team to make his own ticker tape reception!

 

So it’s off to the last night party. An open air party with a snack meal, bar and live music to follow but….. no toilets! Fortunately I remember passing a restaurant on the walk down and return only to find two foot plates and a hole for a toilet!

 

Bunga and Ben are the first to feel the effects of about 20 Jagermeisters plus other drinks and having eventually found him Bastian ensures he is in a safe (and dry!) place to sleep. Many others are making merry perhaps not realising what time we have to get up Mainz, who we are travelling with in the morning, are matching our drinking. The next victim is Neil, the Sheffield Coach. I have suspicions that someone has been mixing his drinks but in the capable hands of Stotty, Bastian and myself we all arrive at the bus stop to what looks like a scene of carnage with Bunga and Ben both flat out lying at ninety degrees to each other in the bus shelter. We all catch the 3-o-clock bus and manage to get back and to bed by 4!

 

Tuesday 24th July

 

A matter of three hours later we’re all up ready (I don’t think so) for breakfast and the journey to Trieste.  Ines our attaché is our guide. It’s all very quiet on the trip up through Slovenia, where we see…rain! The Mainz lads with us arrive only to be told they have a 90 minute delay on their flight. We are lucky with ours. It’s also that time that the MVP award is made it’s…… Rob Flay who has was our most consistent performer in all areas.

 

We then have a panic that our cases are somewhat heavier (up to 6 kilos!) than when we came out! Some frantic repacking into hand luggage takes place to avoid extra payments and we all get through, considering we bought very little I can only put this extra weight down to sweat, lovely!

 

It’s been a brilliant, unforgettable experience that has whet the appetite to return next year. We have John the Greek and maybe one of the Mainz lads coming to Loughborough for the second semester. It was hard work getting there but boy was it worth it.

 

Dovidenja Rijeka 2007; Ciao Italia 2008?

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All Blog Entries are written by Team Manager Phil Cobb

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