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Loughborough Students Volleyball Club
Match Reports

Match reports are listed by date received, most recent at the top.
Scroll down for the story of the season.

30 March 2003

Game, Set and Season

Loughborough Students vs Chester 2

25-17, 20-25, 25-16, 25-14

After a 4 week break Loughborough men were eager avenge the slip up they suffered at Leicester at the end of February which effectively ended their hopes of promotion the NVL Div 1.

Loughborough were without big hitting Luke Rosenburg who is preparing for warm weather training out in the USA so in stepped the much loved Barry Shillabeer. Also missing was libero Joe Shaffery.

This game was significant for the eccentric Luc Radinski as he will be leaving to return to Poland soon. This was also the last game for Will Roberts who has made the middle blockers place his own this season, bringing great speed and power to the role along with a fine defensive attitude.

Visiting Chester felt the full force of Loughboroughs frustrations with a fine display of volleyball in the first set. The intensity on court throughout the squad was clear for all to see as Loughborough battled furiously in defence. This allowed setter Jon Pennock to connect beautifully with both swing hitters Mark Speak and captain Dave Lovell, who were both ruthlessly efficient.

The game also saw the welcome return of injury plagued Dan Elliott. However his absence was not a problem as the great passing unit of Shillabeer, Lovell and Speaky allowed Pennock to link well with both middle players. Loughborough stormed out to an impressive lead and eventually closed the set at 25-17

The second set saw the Luf men start very slowly and they were punished by erratic hitting. While the visitors cut down on their unforced errors Loughborough began to pile up theirs! The ship was steadied towards the end of the set with some fine swing hitting but it was all a little bit too late.

The loss of this set awakened the Loughborough attack and the next 2 sets saw a great variety of shots played with great power and precision. As Loughboroughs confidence grew the serving intensity stepped up and began to cause the Chester team real problems. Blocking also was a key factor with some superb individual blocks from Pennock and Lovell signalling the end for Chester as Loughborough took the 3rd set to 16 and walked out in the 4th wanting to close out the match.

It was here that Roberts and Pennock finally connected to produce some of the best points of the day. A sweetly struck short reverse set was this writer's personal favourite.

With Luf  in full flow both Radinski and Dave Ball came on to contribute to the final destruction of Chester. Mark Speake decided to close the game out in style - his hat trick of jump serves aces gave Loughborough match point and after a final serve there was no way past the Loughborough block as they took the final set 25-14.

The end of a fine season for the boys from Loughborough as this team continues to go from strength to strength. To what heights will this team reach next season?

Roberts and Radinski will be sorely missed.

The boys were in a reflective mood as they headed out to celebrate the season - details are hazy but great fun was had by all. Apparently.

Team: Will Roberts, Jon Pennock, Dan Elliott, Mark Speake, Barry Shillabeer, Dave Lovell, Luc Radinski, Simon McGowan, Dave Ball, Coach Mike McKeever.

14th - 16th March 2003
 
BUSA Champions Again!!!

Loughborough's BUSA Women's first team defended the title with a vengeance this weekend, dishing out some superb volleyball to destroy the opposing university teams.

If their desire for this tournament was ever in doubt, Friday's match versus Reading sent out a stark warning, with set scores of 25-7 and 25-11!!! This match allowed coach Lakomy to try out all of his 11-player squad except for Katy Virr whose vulnerable shoulder was protected for the latter stages of the tournament.

9am Saturday morning saw the girls in action again, this time against the best of Wales. In an error-strewn match, setter Lucy Wicks played as an outside hitter, allowing lefty Emma Surma the chance to set rather than hit... 25-19, 25-16.

The group was rounded off with another 2-0 win, this time over Leeds, 25-16, 25-14. With Emma Surma and Debbie Spokes rested for their evening National League game v Ashcombe (a 3-2 defeat), the strength in depth was again exemplified.

Another early start on Sunday for the semi v Edinburgh, who had taken the other danger team Cambridge to 3 sets on Saturday (15-13 in the third!!!) in the group match. However, this match saw Loughborough's class shone through, and they powered their way to victory over the Scots, 25-9, 25-15.

The final was a repeat of the Student Cup final, with Cambridge as the opponents. Both of these teams came from the Midland qualifying division, and in the merit league matches Loughborough BUSA1 had won both matches 3-1, but alarmingly for the Light Blues, Loughborough BUSA2 had taken them to 3-2 and 3-1. So, with Loughborough's first six of Jenna Taylor, Rachel Laybourne, Lucy Wicks, Chantel Mortmer, Debbie Spokes, and Katy Virr having international experience that other teams could only dream of, Cambridge were swept away 25-16, 25-11.

A fantastic weekends play from the squad of Jenna Taylor, Rachel Laybourne, Lucy Wicks, Chantel Mortmer, Debbie Spokes, Katy Virr, Emma Surma, Claire Greenwood, Laura Bebbington, Sara Eccleston, and Tami Scoular.

The scored a total of 250 points, conceding just 134 in 5 matches, an average of 25-13 set score!!

Congratulations to the squad, and to coach Henryk Lakomy, a true Loughborough Volleyball legend who is stepping down as Director of Volleyball at the university this summer.

8th / 9th March 2003
 
Women's National KO Cup Semi-Final
W1 v Wolverhampton  1 - 3      24-26, 25-18, 19-25, 15-25
 
Women 1 hunted down by the Wolves!
 
Saturday night saw Luf1 fall at the final hurdle in their attempt to reach yet another cup final, in a tense and atmospheric match in the famous Victory Hall, renowned for its noise levels.
 
Accompanied by the growing "Loughborough Band", whose spirits were not dampened by news of Luf3s National Shield semi-final disappointment, but were certainly fuelled all the better by a stint in JCs for early afternoon song practice!!

A rowdy crowd of 70 took their seats for what promised to be a thrilling match between the teenager dominated Loughborough team and the internationally experienced early season additions to Wolverhamptons squad, including Loughborough favourite Jenna Taylor and Olympian Mo Glover.

The first set saw the Loughborough's setter Carly Williams step on court for the first time  since September, when she had suffered a terrible knee injury. Luckily for the team, her return to fitness coincided with Lucy Wickss absence due to an injury that kept her out of training all week. A real shame for Wicks, whose setting has lit up the League this season, but a very welcome return to action from the talented Williams. Good kills from captain Rachel Laybourne and Rachel Bragg created a four-point lead for Loughborough mid-set, but though the mid-net battle between Chantel Mortimer and Wolves'  southpaw Glover was even, Wolverhampton stole the set 26-24.

The second set was Loughborough's from start to finish. They cruised home in great style, thanks to the hitting variety of Katy Virr, and the vicious serve of Helen Brown who aced the usually impregnable Wolves passing unit of Glover, Taylor and Malone on a number of occasions, much to the joy of the partisan home crowd.

However this proved to be a false dawn for Loughborough, and in the third set, despite valiant efforts from libero Sara Palmer, Wolves gradually pulled away to close out the set, though the final score was probably not a fair reflection of the closeness of the play.

Loughborough will want to forget the fourth set. Despite the efforts of coach Craig Handford the only change he could make was in the setting position, due to the continuing back problems of Liane Herbert whose height in the middle may have proved valuable. Indeed Wolves romped home 25-15, and deservedly celebrated their victory.

The fans left disappointed, but will return next season, as will the players (with a vengeance). Guildford Spectrum will be a far quieter place without Loughborough's talented players and their vociferous supporters .

Team: Rachel Laybourne (c), Carly Williams, Lucy Wicks, Katy Virr, Sara Palmer, Chantel Mortimer, Helen Brown, Rachel Bragg, Liane Herbert. Coach Craig Handford.

1st / 2nd March 2003
 
Disaster Day for Men
Leicester 3-1 Loughborough
 
The illness of Barry Shillabeer was always going to mean a lot of hard work for the players, especially considering Luke Rosenbergs continuing knee problems but Loughborough arrived in Leicester in confident mood, although this was tinged with a nervousness over the massive importance of the match.
The original team selection saw Dan Elliott expecting his first start of the season, a real testament to a player who has fought tirelessly and very noticeably to return to fitness. All his hours on the training court and in the gym though, were not enough as it turned out, and due to worries about the fitness of Rosenberg, coach Mike McKeever saw fit to drop the desperately unlucky Elliott to the bench.
The first set could well be the reason why Loughborough lost the game: poor passing accompanied by irresponsible hitting and an inconsistently formed block created an unassailable lead for Leicester. The Slav Weapon Radosinski was soon withdrawn from the fray and replaced in the middle by Dave Ball who had been absent from training in the week due to illness. Rosenbergs fitness was evidently a problem, and this meant that Elliott saw some action, in the unfamiliar opposite position. A set to forget!
The passing did improve in the second set, evident by the fact that middle player Will Roberts getting his first chance to spike in the match: a left-handed kill on a B set from Pennock. However this was again a very forgettable set, marked only by a tendency for Leicester to think that any set by Pennock was a carry, which in all honesty became quite tiresome as the match continued.
Better passing and fewer hitting errors from Loughboroughs outside hitters meant that the third set went their way Dave Lovell and Mark Speake, usually so dependable for Loughborough had a match to forget, as neither managed to get into any rhythm in their passing or hitting. The lads took heart from winning this set, and looked towards the fourth with refreshed confidence in their undoubted ability.
The fourth set somehow slipped through the fingers, picking on Leicesters weaker passers with intelligent serves certainly helped, but somehow we found ourselves 24-20 down how did that happen?? After better blocking all round, and a cleverly tipped slide attack by Will Roberts Loughborough had looked set to take this set. However, 1st referee Sam Shaw bizarrely gave in to Leicesters persistent appeals on handling and gave a carry against Pennock, then matched by 2nd referee, the famous Dave Gardner who managed to invent a foot under the net when Loughborough were serving!!! The set went 25-23
the team that played better on the day won the match, too many Loughborough players didnt turn up, so no excuses.
Highly disappointing, especially in the context that whenever we have had our strongest team out, we have won. Pennock injured v Salford 1 (a), Lovell, Speake and Rosenberg all absent v Leeds (a), Lovell v Oxford (h), and Shillabeer (and Rosenberg to an extent) v Leicester.
To say were all gutted is a massive understatement, personally that is the worst Ive felt after a volleyball match since losing Glasgow in BUSA final 2001 (16-14 in final set).
Team: Dave Lovell, Mark Speake, Will Roberts, Dan Elliott, Jon Pennock, Dave Ball, Luke Rosenberg, Luc Radosinski, Joe Shaffery (libero), Simon McGowan, Coach Mike McKeever, Stats: Emma Surma

PS  Steve Bromel, captain of Leeds Volleyball Club sends this message of 'sympathy'

My deepest deepest simpathies!!!!!!!

To all it may concern
 
It's a sad in English volleyball when the hours and hours of hard work, grit and dedication, shown by the fine athletes at one of the 'main powers' in Div 2 volleyball, can all amount to nothing because of the merest toot of an eagle eyed second referee's whistle. 
As a renowned hard trainer and basic try hard myself, it brought a tear to my eye when I heard the news. Don't fret I promise that the inspiration given to me by your valiant efforts won't be wasted, with a tear in my eye and the thought of your graft foremost in my mind, I promise to buckle down and push myself that extra bit further into the early hours of the morning in my 'heavy'  preparation for, what can only be described as a Jason verses Goliath, contest against Telford.

Yours apologetically
 
Bromell!!!  Leeds V.C  
 
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Wessex v W1  1 - 3   24-26, 25-20, 14-25, 23-25
 
Leeds v W2   0 - 3   13-25, 23-25, 20-25
 
Cleobury v W3    3 - 0   25-20, 25-15, 25-18

22nd / 23rd February 2003
 
W1 v Ashcombe Dorking   3 - 0   25-21, 25-21, 28-26

Women 1 Blow Traditional Rivals Away

Women 1 confirmed their progress this season, not only as individuals but as a team, and deservedly blew away traditional superpower within the womens game, Ashcombe.

Vociferously supported by a small band of loud mouthed yobs (Men 1 !!!), the girls gave an experienced Ashcombe team (containing former pro Sim Lewis, and lefty Michelle Nudds, but without former Luf Kate Fiddler and injured young star Amy Weemes) no chance in the game.

It wasn't the cleanest of performance, but Rachel Laybourne's hitting style, control and ball contact really was a class above, and Loughborough didn't have to carry any weak link, which Ashcombe did.

Without mentioning any individuals, it was to the amusement of the crowd that an Ashcombe player chose to give them a two-fingered salute when they applauded her for eventually got a service in court. Good job she's not a footballer because she could have got into a lot of trouble for that if the officials had picked up on it. We will welcome her return on 15th March when Ashcombe play Luf 2!!!!!!

Other than that, the girls were not pushed, and should take heart that they pushed Malory hard before Christmas, and if this team was to stay together next season they would definitely push for the title.. shame so many are graduating.

Congratulations to Luf 1, for a superby professional dismissal of their opposition bring on Wolverhampton in the Cup Semi!!!

 

Portsmouth Comax  v  W1   1 - 3      16 -25, 25-15, 21-25, 29-31
Report to follow
 
Dulwich Tuskers  v  W2   2 - 3   30-28, 14-25, 15-25, 25-23, 7-15
 
Having beaten Dulwich convincingly at home, Loughborough were confident of  sealing a win away in South London. Following a long journey Loughborough arrived at the venue just in time for the warm up. With Ausra Glozeckaite unable to play due to an ankle injury, received the previous Thursday Loughborough strengthened their squad with the additions of Sara Eccleston and Ketlin Varkki playing up from the women's third team.

The first set saw a shaky start from both teams with Loughborough finding it hard to establish their rhythm. The teams stayed reasonably level throughout with Dulwich edging the win 30-28 with the help of a rather dubious line decision to say the least.
 
In set 2 Loughborough found more consistency with some excellent blocking from Claire Taylor and Debbie Spokes, combined with excellent net play from Ketlin Varkki. This led to Loughborough winning the second set convincingly 14-25.

The third set started where the second left off with Loughborough dominating the majority of the play. Hedda Meijer was on form hitting well from backcourt and smart serving from captain Nicky Jones gave Loughborough a 2 -1 lead.

Whether it was a lapse of concentration or better play from the opponents the girls couldn't pull away in the fourth and an accumulation of errors all round let Dulwich back into the game.

Loughborough rediscovered the form of the second and third sets aided by some excellent first balls from the teams libero Sara Eccleston, which allowed
setter Emma Surma to supply more consistent balls for the attackers. The team
showed their superiority and pulled away to take the set 15-7 and the match 3-2. This win maintains fifth position in the league, with three games left to
play including a massive home game against Ashcombe on Sat 15th March.

Team: Nicky Jones (c) Hedda Meijer, Debbie Spokes, Claire Taylor, Emma Surma, Sara Eccleston, Ketlin Varkki and top supporter/stand in coach Ausra
Glozeckaite
 
Polonia  v  W3   3 - 0   25-8, 27-25, 25-9  
 
Afraid another loss for the inexperienced Luf 3 side, with two key players missing on loan to Luf 2!

It was always going to be a tough match against recently relegated from Division 1 team; Polonia. They were a well organised outfit; with strong hitters and tight defence.  Luf fought hard in the first set, but due to a late arrival, warm-up was sacrificed and the first set was used as their warm-up, which was lost 25-8.

The second set was a much improved performance by all, with some strong serving from Laura Bebbington and great setting from Captain Lisa Purcell. Along with good swing hitting from Clare Greenwood. However, Luf narrowly lost the set 27- 25.

The third set was used to give all players some court-time. So Jenny Hedgecock was replaced my Tamara Scoular and Lauren Cartigny replaced Tracey Davies.  Some fantastic defence from Selma Van Houwelingen and blocking from Tamara, however, due to lack of tip and block cover and poor hitting, Luf 3 were beaten quite convincingly, by a much better team.
 
T.H. Lynx v W3   3 - 1 20-25,25-17, 25-17, 25-16
 
Yet another late arrival, which meant Luf 3 were left with a 10 minute warm-up! But today the team were refreshed from the defeat of the day before after a comfortable squeeze in the Travel Lodge that night!

Luf 3 won the first set quite convincingly, with good swinging from Ketlin Varkki and great attacking decisions from Jenny Hedgecock. The team were
putting a lot of effort in, but were struggling in particular skills, blocking being identified as a weakness.

After winnind a good first set to 20 points - a much improved performance on Saturday's match - the girls lost their cool. Heads went down after a long run of serve receive errors, and due to the poor quality of pass, the attack was lacking in quality and the Lynx defence was too tight.

Then another blow to the team was that setter Lisa Purcell was having problems with her injured shoulder, and so Sara Eccleston replaced her as setter, and performed well in this relatively unknown position to her!

Therefore another loss for Luf 3. However some positive factors have been identified from this weekends double header. Serving was consistent, and an injury ridden Captain Lisa Purcell had a great weekend considering the large amount of strapping on her damaged shoulder. With blocking and cover being recognised as a priority in training this week, ahead of the match away at Cleobury next Sunday.

Will the girls be able to snatch a victory without the guidance of coach Henryk Lakomy or Captainship from Lisa Purcell who is unable to make the match due a skiing trip!
 
 
M1  v  City of Salford 1   3 - 0    25-21, 25-18, 25-15

56 minute run to victory!!!

On Saturday evening the two main powers of Division 2 clashed - Loughborough Students vs. Salford 1. With marvellous cheering from the womens' teams, hastened back from their victories in Dulwich and Portsmouthearlier that day, supported by Lukasz Radosinski in fine voice on the bench, Loughborough had to win.

The first set was an opera, with Dave Lovell as the main tenor. His hard swings combined with precise blocks from Will Roberts and Dave Ball left no hope for Salford to win. Finally after 20 minutes the Loughborough team left the court with a victory.

The second set was Mark Speake's 'serve show'. Desperate attacks from Salford were perfectly defended by libero Barry Shillabeer, followed by demolishing hits from Luke Rosenberg. But it would not be possible without Jon Pennock's settings. He confirmed that he is truly the brain of the team. If you thought that the first set was fast what will you say about 18 minutes for the second?

In the third set coach Michael McKeever decided to let his secret Slav weapon Lukasz Radosinski loose on the court. His 3 merciless kill blocks helped to limit Salford to 15 points in another 18 minute set. 

After this 3:0 victory Loughborough deservedly take first place in NVL Division 2 from Salford. "The King is dead! Long live the King!!!"

Team:

Dave Lovell (captain), Will Roberts, Jon Pennock, Barry Shillabeer, Mark Speake, Joe Shaffery, Simon McGowan, Lucasz Radosinski, Dan Elliot. Coach Michael McKeever.

15 / 16th Feb 2003 - Student Cup
 
Ten in a row
 
The Loughborough girls defended their title in style, winning every game they played and recording an unprecedented 10th student Cup victory in a row.

In the first match against Coventry there was some great setting from Lucy Wicks and strong hitting from Clare Greenwood, ensured a definite first win of the tournament, 2-0 to the Loughborough girls.

The next game was tougher against Bristol, but still Loughborough kept their cool and won both sets, Katie Virr hit well through the outside and Debbie Spokes was on form with her blocking, and with good defence from Emma Surma, nothing was going to get in their way.

The 3rd match against UMIST got off to a shaky start, the UMIST serve caught the team out for the first few points and then a few unforced errors put Loughborough behind, so it was a struggle throughout the set to get back on top. A run of good serving by Tracey Davies and clever hitting by Laura Bebbington closed the gap significantly but unfortunately it was too late and UMIST won the first set, only just. This made Loughborough fight back twice as hard in the second and third sets, therefore winning the game 2-1. This meant that Loughborough girls were now through to the quarter finals.

The quarter finals was against a good Irish side 'UCD', Luf started well and kept control. With great passing from libero Sara Eccleston and good attacks from Rachel Laybourne and Chantel Mortimer linking well with setter Lucy Wicks, ensured a 2-0 win.


Which put Luf through to the semi-finals against London. The girls beat London in style, powerful hitting from Katie Virr and beautiful setting from Lucy Wicks took Luf to a 2-0 win, so they were through to the final against Cambridge.


Coach Henryk had informed the girls prior to the match of Cambridge's poor tip cover so Luf knew they could exploit this weakness; some excellent tips and short serves by Emma Surma really unsettled Cambridge. Libero Sara Eccleston produced some great defence and Cambridge didn't have a chance, Luf winning the match 2-0!


Luf had done it, won the Student Cup for the 10th consecutive year, and each player took a gold trophy home, a much deserved win!

Team: Captain Katie Virr (Outside), Lucy Wicks (setter), Chantel Mortimer (Middle), Emma Surma (Opposite/Outside), Clare Greenwood (Outside), Debbie Spokes (Middle), Sara Eccleston (Libero),Rachel Laybourne (Opposite), Laura Bebbington (Middle), Tracey Davies (Outside), Lauren Cartigny (Outside).

Team Manager: Nicky Jones, Coach: Henryk Lakomy


It was good but then not so good!!!

It was straight to bed on Friday night for the Loughborough mens team which left some girlfriends disappointed on Valentine's night, but that didn't matter to the boys as an early rise and a chance to prove that their position in BUSA's midlands group was not a true reflection of their ability awaited. An unrealistic leaving time of 6:45 quickly changed to a 7:15 leave due to late arrivals and for once it was not Luke Rosenberg who the team was waiting for.

Loughborough were pleased to find themselves at Leeds Met and playing in the blue hall but the team knew little of their first opponents Lancaster. With Coach Michael McKeever unable to be in Leeds until the Sunday, national league captain and former student David Lovell assumed coaching duties for the day.

It was the first time that the full team had played together this season due to several injuries and work commitments and this showed as the team got off to a sluggish start. Lancaster had 3 strong hitters who were causing Loughborough problems; however the opposition setter was attempting to penetrate from position 5 which was proving rather difficult. Strong hitting from the returning Alex Burt and good passing from libero Owen Collingbourne meant that Loughborough were never behind and closed out the set comfortably.

The second set saw the team wake up a bit and they began to show some of the form they are capable of. Captain Will Roberts was effective in the pass and long term casualty Dan Elliott stepped back into his middle role as if hed never been away. Lancaster were never in it and Loughborough took the set and the match 2-0.

The team then retired to the balcony to discuss the game and watched Exeter lose to a strong Newcastle team 2-0. It was Exeter next for the boys and the team thought it best to rest a couple of players for later games. Matt Mayes started opposite the setter and Simon McGowan played the middle. Loughborough had not learnt their lesson though and Exeter took an early advantage. The team's passing improved and setter Jon Pennock finally woke up and was beginning to find his hitters. The set was won although closer than it should have been. Exeter were never in the second set and Loughborough wrapped up the match 2-0. Having to officiate the next match brought the usual negative response so Coach Lovell assigned scorers and linesmen and then it was the big game of the day Loughborough against Newcastle.

Loughborough sent out their strongest six players to face a good Newcastle side who had 2 very strong outside hitters and a good setter but unfortunately for them their opposite player had twisted his ankle in the previous game. For the third match of the day Loughborough found themselves playing catch up. The outside attack was proving too strong for the Loughborough block and despite a late fightback the set was lost 24-26. The boys had the momentum leading into the next set and with specific instructions to double block the 2 big hitters they took a commanding lead. The passing unit was working well and good hitting and blocking from opposite player Luke Rosenberg meant the match was levelled at 1 - 1.

Both teams were playing high quality volleyball and it was Newcastle who had a slight advantage. A roof block from Lukasz Radosinski kept Loughborough in it but the team faced 2 match points at 12-14. Will Roberts stepped up to serve and Loughborough capitalised on Newcastle's poor passing and fought back to have match point of their own. A wild swing from Newcastle's outside hitter gave Loughborough the set 17-15, the match 2-1 and the team celebrated with scenes that can be likened only to winning the football world cup.

An added bonus was that the team avoided pre-tournament favourites London in the quarters and faced Oxford Uni whom they had beaten already this season.

Both the boys and girls headed for a team meal, excited and confident they would both compete for the championship. After a nice Chinese the party headed to the Bondi Beach Bar in Leeds city centre. Cocktails were on offer, which was not a good thing as the team was in a celebrating mood and it had been Luc the Pole's birthday that week. Forgetting that they were involved in an important early game the next morning the boys and girls danced the night away with players from Sheffield, Newcastle and other Unis. Despite the late night the team made it to breakfast the next morning and left for the different venue of Leeds Uni at 8:45.

Officiating the first game Loughborough saw London beat Newcastle 2-0 to progress into the semi-finals. Then it was the boys' turn. Playing in a hall where to serve you have to put one foot on to court was always going to be difficult but Loughborough were confident of winning the game. Another slow start though let Oxford run away with the first set. Poor passing, setting and hitting never let the team find their rhythm and the set was lost 14-25.

With that behind them Loughborough started the second set well and their game started to improve. Effective hitting from Alex Burt and Daniel Elliott gave the boys a slender lead but they couldnt put Oxford away and staring defeat in the face at 23-24 a fine attack from opposite player Luke Rosenberg levelled the scores. 2 blocks later and the match was tied at 1-1. All Loughborough had to do was keep their concentration and they would win and they looked to have the set sewn up after quite a good block from Will Roberts on Oxfords best attacker. However Loughborough ran out of steam and Oxfords consistency prevailed to take the match 2-1.

Extremely disappointed the team faced 5-8th play-off. By the luck of the draw it was old rivals Cambridge who faced Loughborough in the next game, a repeat of last year's final. This game didn't produce quite as good volleyball though as both teams rested players. Joe Shaffery had his first proper taste of student cup volleyball and coped well under the pressure. Loughborough won the first set easily and then Cambridge decided to play a few of their better players and it was they who took the second set despite some terrific blocking from Alex Burt. It was another 3 setter for Loughborough and the team was beginning to tire and some interesting refereeing decisions and a random bloke doing the line did not help their cause. Hitting errors proved Loughborough's downfall and it was Cambridge who took the set 16-14.

It was Kent who Loughborough faced for the honour of 7th place. And as had become tradition over the weekend Kent went ahead from the start. Inexperience from Loughborough hitters and undisciplined blocking allowed Kent to take the set although special mention should go to Matt Mayes for his strong attacking. The team managed to summon up the strength for a final effort and came out fighting in the second. Will Roberts replaced Joe Shaffery to strengthen the attack and Simon McGowan showed his improvement as a middle hitter with some good kills. Loughborough levelled the game and faced yet another 3 set match. It's taken a whole season but finally Jon Pennock worked out how to serve and a run of 3 points gave the team an early lead. Both teams looked tired and Loughborough maintained their lead to the end taking the match 2-1 and 7th place. The boys then sat down to watch the girls retain their title with an easy 2-0 victory over Cambridge and then saw an exciting mens final which resulted in London beating Sheffield Hallam 2-1.

Overall the team were disappointed with the outcome of the weekend, knowing they should have been in the semi-finals at least. The result means that next year they will have to qualify for the competition and also signifies the end of competition this season for the student team . However the boys can take heart from some strong displays and defeating teams who have qualified for the BUSA last sixteens.

Loughborough Men now face a tough run in in the National League Division 2, playing league leaders Salford next Saturday 22nd Feb (6.30 Victory Hall) and know they must regain focus if they are to keep alive their chances of gaining promotion to Division 1.

Thanks to Dave Lovell for taking charge on Saturday and also thanks to Andy Riding for being a good chap.

Squad: Will Roberts (captain), Jon Pennock, Daniel Elliott, Luke Rosenberg, Alex Burt, Lukasz Radosinski, Owen Collingbourne, Simon Mcgowan, Matt Mayes, Joe Shaffery

8th / 9th February 2003
 
W3 vs York (Shield) 3 - 0   25-9, 25-21, 25-18
A solid victory over non-league York brings up  a semi-final against London highflyers Swiss Cottage.
Full report to follow
 
W3 vs Chelmsford Partners  (league)  1 - 3  21-25, 25-21, 20-25, 21-25
Report to follow
 
W1 vs Portsmouth Comax  3 - 1
 
Recovering from a first set loss, the club's top team took the next 3 sets to earn them a semi-final KO Cup draw against City of Wolverhampton's maverick team.
Full report to follow
 
M1 vs Milton Keynes   3 - 2   25-27, 23-25, 25-16, 25-15, 15-11
 
Despite losing the first 2 sets to a rampant MK, Lboro recovered to record a win and keep themselves firmly in the promotion race.

If the mark of quality is to dig out results under the most difficult circumstances, then Loughborough have it to spare. Despite matching Milton Keynes point for point through 2 long sets Lboro lost both, edged out by the better hitting and blocking of a fiesty Milton Keynes team. How to recover from losing 2 cliffhangers 25-27, 23-25?

With defeat only one set away, Luke Rosenberg stepped up to serve - 5 serves, 4 overpasses from the MK reception unit, 4 clinical net kills from the Lboro blockers and suddenly the whole tempo of the match had changed. With the Lboro blockers identifying  the key MK hitters, allied to some great defence from captain Lovell and libero Shaffery, the third set took only 17 minutes.

MK coach Softley adjusted his line up in set 4, retiring opposite Davies and switching Barker to this position in an attempt to halt the Lboro outside hitting. Lboro adjusted and Rosenberg delivered a hitting masterclass through zones 2 and 1, powering to a total of 18 kills for the match. In total it took 17 minutes, as a rampant Lboro accelerated from a side out battle at 7 - 6 to a commanding 16 -11 lead. Lboro's Speake then took the score to 22 with a series of powerful jump serves. 25 -15,  2-2, Lboro had earned a chance to win the match. 

Lboro had the momentum and MK's coach Softley had a struggle to find his best 6 to put on court.  Lboro were first to 8 points; a brilliant 2nd touch attack from setter Pennock which left the MK defence for dead and a Rosenberg tool off  the MK block brought a hard earned win, 15 - 11.

The best comeback, the best back to back wins in 4 seasons- it was good!

M1 vs Birmingham   3 - 0   25-16, 25-23, 25-20
 
A large and enthusiastic crowd enjoyed Loughborough's first league win over local rivals Birmingham in 3 years. Despite B'ham coach Bill Boagey's best attempts to harness an arguementative squad, B'ham failed, yet again, to deliver anything like their true potential.
 
Lboro grabbed their opportunity and with accurate  passing from Shilabeer, Lovell and Speake, setter Jon Pennock gave  Birmingham's defence no chance. 44 attack kills by Lboro with  only  3 blocks by Bham tells the story.
 
It is satisfying to see the progress of this team, built on dedication and hard work.
 
 
  M2 vs Derby   1 - 3
Report to follow
 
W2 vs Thames Valley  3 - 1   25-14, 22-25, 25-19, 25-16

Following a convincing win against Wessex in their previous outing Loughborough were full of confidence as they faced mid table rivals Thames Valley.

Loughborough began the game well with Ausra Glozeckaite producing a run of fine strategic serves aided by excellent defensive work from Debbie Spokes. The team found themselves with a healthy lead and they never looked back taking the set comfortably 25-14.
 
The second set has proved Loughborough's downfall throughout the season and soon the girls were playing catch up. Strong net play from Claire Taylor managed to keep Loughborough in touch but Thames Valley's  outside hitters were attacking too well. Coach Henryk Lakomy decided to switch Hedda Meijer to position 2 in an attempt to combat the opponents play which meant setter Emma Surma became the outside hitter. This rattled Thames Valley as Loughborough won 4 points in a row to close the gap. However the lead was too much and the visitors levelled the match 1-1.

Going into the 3rd set it was Loughborough who had the momentum, thanks to their late comeback in set 2 and they started the third set well. Ketlin Varkki came on for the injured Claire Taylor, gaining valuable division 1 experience and some decisive quick hits from captain Nicky Jones meant that the girls were never behind and the set was won 25-19.
 
The fourth set was one way traffic from the start with Loughborough's superior all round game showing. Libero Sara Ecclestone coped well with tricky serving from the opposition and Loughborough were rarely troubled finishing the set 25-16 and the match 3-1.
 
This victory takes Lboro above TV and into the top half of the table. The team look to continue their successful run against Dulwich Tuskers in Dulwich on 22nd Feb.

Team: Nicky Jones (captain), Emma Surma, Debbie Spokes, Hedda Meijer, Ausra Glozeckaite, Claire Taylor, Sara Ecclestone, Ketlin Varkki

5th February 2003
 
STRONG BUSA PERFORMANCES FOR ALL  3 TEAMS

BUSA WOMEN 1  vs   NOTTINGHAM (h)   3 - 1 (won)
BUSA WOMEN 2  vs  OXFORD (a)   0 - 3 (lost)
BUSA MEN   vs  WARWICK (h)   3 - 0 (won)
 
 Both of Loughboroughs home teams won Wednesday, with Women1 rounding off their group campaign with a comfortable win over Nottingham to maintain their 100% record.  The men recorded another 3-0 win over Warwick in a dead match where neither team could go through to the last 16 round and took the opportunity to give their full squad a match. Women 2 were unlucky to go down to defeat at Oxford, though take heart from their rapid progression as a unit this season.  
 
Women 1 won two of their sets to just 10points, but twice let their foot off the gas too much, allowing Nottingham a chance. However the side, made up from players from Luf 1, 2, and 3 National League teams was far the superior outfit, and now look to the last 16 round in anticipation of defending their BUSA crown yet again.
 
Women 2 travelled down to Oxford in the knowledge that their performances this season have been on a progressively upward curve. Though they went down 3-0, this was not a true reflection of the match, as they pushed the more experienced Oxford outfit hard in sets 2 and 3. Despite this defeat the girls take heart from the fact that they were able to control their own performance well, and hope to push Cambridge next week. That match is crucial in the final outcome of the group, with LufBUSA1 already through and LufBUSA2 out, other teams know that a defeat could see them relegated rather than through to the last 16 - just like the mens group.  This shows the strength of Midlands university volleyball.
 
The lads showed that though they will be relegated alongside Warwick, they are not in the same category of team. The scoreline does not emphasise the ease of this win, with many players playing out of position, and others given a chance to play when earlier in the season they've been consistent bench warmers!!

29th January 2003
Unlucky Men Sent to Coventry

BUSA: Coventry Uni 3-2 Loughborough (25-17,27-25, 18-25, 20-25, 15-12)

The lads travelled to Coventry knowing nothing but victory would be good enough, but  with Speakey as coach, they knew they were in with a chance!! After finding the court thanks to a second search party following the failure of Shaff and Simon (how did Shaff of all people fail to ask the right questions?!?!?), the lads knew they'd be up against it in the small low-roofed hall in which Coventry choose to play their matches.

Due to Luc Radosinski's unavailability (English lessons took preference), Dan Elliott stepped into the line-up for his first start of the campaign (due to his injury problems). Loughborough were tentative in the first set, and were rolled over by Coventry's big hitting options through the middle.

However the second set will be what the lads look back on with most disappointment, as they threw away a lead of 24-22 to lose it 27-25. Despite managing to get hold of the Coventry hitting with defensive qualities that have been sadly lacking for this BUSA campaign, nervous hitting from usually reliable sources meant this set slipped by, and Loughborough were staring another whitewash in the face.

Sets 3 and 4 were memorable, with Loughborough showing the ability that they know they are capable of, giving Coventry no chance through defence built around a strongly formed block. The consistent kills of Rosenberg and Roberts were ably supported by points from all other hitters, including the renaissance man Elliott. Indeed setter Pennock killed a high pass from Shaffery within the opposition 3-metre line to raise the roof off the small gym.

Coventry have had a number of 5 set wins this season including one in Loughborough, when both Pennock and Rosenberg were injured. With both teams at full strength, Loughborough knew that theyd have to work hard to overcome this track record, but soon found themselves 7-3 down. Some excellent volleyball clawed them back to 8-7 down at the turn. With the second referee again leaving his rotation slips on the table, rather than in his hand, Coventry were able to get away with some terrible rotation faults, and at 12-10 to Coventry a horrendous home team decision was given. The linespeople had changed at the start of the 5th set from being ladies players, to substitutes, and somehow a ballooned back wall spike from Coventry was given as a block touch by the second referee!!!!! Loughborough managed to side-out immediately to get back to 13-11. With the pressure mounting, Coventry's serve crashed into the tape of the net and contrived to drop vertically on the Loughborough court, giving the passers no chance. 14-11, and serving for the match the Coventry player went for his shot, but struck the middle of the net!! At 14-12 down, Roberts arm was almost visibly shaking, and although the serve was good Coventry's spike struck the seam in the block and dropped by the feet of the despairing blockers.

Team: Will Roberts, Luke Rosenberg, Joe Shaffery, Jon Pennock, Dan Elliott, Simon McGowan, Matt Mayes, Andy North. Coach: Mark Speake

Report:  Will Roberts

25th / 26th January 2003
 
Leeds vs W1   0 - 3   14-25, 20-25, 15-25
 
W2 vs Wessex   3 - 0   25-17, 25-18, 25-14
 
W3 vs Salford   1 - 3   19-25, 14-25, 25-18, 23-25

18th / 19th January 2003
 
W1 vs University of London   3 - 1    25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 25-18
This win over a strong U of London team earned Lboro a home quarter final match against league rivals Portsmouth COMAX on 9th February.
 
M1 vs Speedwell (cup)   0 - 3   24-26, 22-25, 21-25
 
Malory vs W2 (cup)   3 - 0    25-17, 25-15,25-19
 
Malory vs W2 (league)  3 - 0    25-12, 25-14, 25-15

16/1/03
 
W2 v W1    0 - 3     25-20, 25-11, 25-23 
 
LUF 1s CLASS PASSES THE TEST
Report by Will roberts
 
A healthy and often vociferous crowd turned out to watch this derby match, taking the chance to escape from the perils of exams and revision!!! Both teams looked well prepared for the game, and the warm-up hitting was certainly impressive.

Luf2 were quick out of the blocks, and found themselves 10-6 up in the first set, thanks to the excellent work of rookie setter Emma Surma who was connecting well with Hedda Meijer and Ausra Glozeckaite through four, and the slide attacks of Nicky Jones. However, the set swung round violently, to such an extent that Luf2 were so taken out of their stride that they never recovered. Impressive serving and setting from the vibrant Lucy Wicks (described before & during the match by Jenna Taylor as being like a cat!!), allowed great combination plays to be introduced by Luf1 to devastating effect. Chantel Mortimer, Katy Virr and Rachel Laybourne all benefited from the disarray caused in the Luf2 block. An impressive riposte from the serve of Claire Taylor drew Luf2 closer to the 1s, but this was to no avail.

 The second set was one that Luf2 will want to forget in a hurry, with the 1s playing champagne volleyball. Indeed, though libero Ellie Kawai and Debbie Spokes were agile and full of rapid reactions, they were no match for the opposition, with kills bouncing in their backcourt. It was the second set that saw Rachel Bragg's renowned right-arm literally swing into action, and Helen Brown's swerving serves meant that the Luf2 passing unit could not adequately supply Emma Surma with the setting opportunities that she thrives upon. Despite still nursing her injured shoulder Katy Virr continued to hit impressively , a feature that could see Luf1 progress to yet another Natonal Cup Final. The set flew by all too quickly for the crowd, who were enjoying the exciting plays on offer.

 Set 3 proved to be the last, but was very different from the previous two, with Luf2 being point to point with their counterparts for much of the set, indeed it was down to Rachel Bragg to powerfully hit cross court to win the set by the narrowest of margins. The exchanges were fantastically competitive in this set, and there were numerous long rallies involving the defensive skills of opposing liberos Ellie Kawai and Sarah Palmer. The match finished 3-0 to the classy 1s, though Luf2 will feel that the third set could have been theirs. If they had taken that set, who knows what wouldve happened.???
 
Teams:
Luf 2:  Nicky Jones (c), Emma Surma, Ellie Kawai (libero), Claie Taylor, Debbie Spokes, Ausra Glozeckaite, Hedda Meijer, Sara Eccleston
Luf 1: Rachel Laybourne (c), Chantel Mortimer, Rachel Bragg, Lucy Wicks, Helen Brown, Sara Palmer (libero), Katy Virr, Cary Williams.
Players of the match: Katy Virr and Lucy Wicks

 
11th / 12th January 2003
 
M1  v Telford  3-0   25-12 25-21 25-16
 
Report by Will Roberts
 

ELLIOTT RETURNS JUST IN TIME

The lads returned to league action after the Christmas break, having worked off their seasonal stomachs courtesy of Coach McKeever's now legendary 8-second bursts of explosive energy in training!!

Without Luke Rosenberg and Dave Ball due to exam commitments, it looked as though the guys would be down to a bare 8 players, but this match saw the return of Dan "Flash" Elliott, following months of woe due to his broken ankle. Though not yet able to function fully yet (on-court at least), Elliott's entry into the first set to serve proved one of the most entertaining spells of play. Indeed he was only on-court for around 8 seconds, serving twice, the second of which hed very much like to forget!?!

The first set was very straightforward, indeed so straightforward that Loughborough were not able to match this form again in the match. Kills came from all players, but at least 8 of Telfords point came from Loughborough errors.

In the second set, Simon McGowan entered the fray at the expense of Luc Radosinski, as McKeever recognised his chance to shuffle the pack. Improved passing allowed setter Jon Pennock to further utilise his middle players, with McGowan making a kill, and Will Roberts pounding the ball into the chest of one of Telfords more experienced players.

The highlight of set and possibly the season though, came at the mid-point, shortly after Pennock blazed a Telford overpass 8 inches wide of the sideline

Dave Lovell, following a long rally was inexplicably called for a time delay on his serve. This infuriated the encyclopaedic volleyball knowledge that is Lovell, who in all honesty had been stood at the baseline for just half of the allotted 8 seconds that is permitted.

Other than entertaining his teammates, this spurred Lovell to up his game, and Loughborough closed the set out.

The third set flew by, with kills from Barry Shillabeer and Mark Speake to the fore, though Mark was roof blocked by Bragg the younger, to the delight of Rachel..!?

The match post-mortem was very short, indeed can be summed up in just 8 words, "against Speedwell we'll have to play much better". However, this eased the lads back into the season, and with 8 aces in the game, next week's cup match may prove to be a prime candidate for a giant-killing opportunity.

 

The boring report

This proved to be a 'blow the cobwebs away' match in which neither team produced any sustained period of good play. However it saw the welcome return to the court of Dan Elliott, after breaking his ankle in September. 
 
The win allowed Lboro to climb to 3rd in the table, and with matches at home against all the promotion challengers still to come, the team have every chance of staying in the promotion race right to the end.
 
Loughborough produced a solidity in their passing and defence which didn't allow Telford many cheap points - maybe some reward for the focus on these aspects in training since the new year. If this improvement can be sustained then it will give the team a solid base on which to face the challenges ahead.
 
Next week's cup match against Speedwell, promoted to division 1 last season and struggling to win many matches in the top flight, will give Lboro men a much sterner test next Saturday (3 pm New Sports Hall)

Team:

Dave Lovell (captain), Will Roberts, Jon Pennock, Barry Shillabeer, Mark Speake, Joe Shaffery, Simon McGowan, Lucasz Radosinski,  Dan Elliot. Coach Michael McKeever.

14th / 15th December 2002
 
W1  v London Malory 1-3   25-23 16-25 23-25 23-25
Report by Will Roberts

Loughborough went into this match with the perennial champions of English volleyball, London Malory, in the unfamiliar surroundings of the PEC, which resembled the arctic circle leading to facility staff watching the game in gloves, scarf and bobble hat!! This was a chance for the Loughborough Women to avenge a string of defeats, which have included various National Cup finals.

They started the game positively, despite missing long-term injury casualty Carly Williams, Jenna Taylor, and middle-blocker Liane Herbert. A classy first set display by Loughborough saw them pull away to an unassailable lead mid-set thanks to excellent setting by Lucy Wicks, and pinpoint hitting from Rachel Laybourne, and Katy Virr from the back row. This alongside the strong block of Chantel Mortimer meant that that the set should have been sewn up well before Malory crept up to within two points.

The first point of the second set created further optimism for the ranks of home supporters - perhaps they would see the champions defeated. However this was not to be, and despite fantastic swerving long float serving from Helen Brown, Malorys hitting dominated the set. Opposition coach Jefferson Williams introduced youngster Lucy Boulton, whose hitting on the right hand-side of the net proved a valuable asset alongside that of Natasha Maddox on the left. Loughborough, with such a depleted bench could not make any blocking adjustments, leaving Malorys two top hitters to kill spikes all too often.

Sara Palmer was introduced to reinforce the passing unit in the third set, and this tactical switch by Craig Handford paid dividends as the crowd witnessed a number of long rallies thanks to improved Loughborough floor defence. Both Rachel Laybourne and Katy Virr were relishing the fight, visibly delighting in stuff blocking and spiking past their opponents Maria Bertelli and Audrey Cooper. However, despite on-court rivalries intensifying, Loughborough just couldnt force the set, and Malory took a 2-1 lead.

Malory dominated the fourth, despite the fact that Rachel Braggs right arm swung powerfully into action thanks to Lucy Wickss athletic and accurate setting. However, Maddoxs ability to hit both down the line and acutely cross-court meant that Malory pulled away into an apparently unassailable lead. However, Williams chose to introduce one of his singing bench girls to serve for the match and with aplomb the ball sailed into the middle of the net and she was promptly removed from the fray!! Still 24-20 down Loughborough knew that it was all or nothing, and Rachel Laybourne produced a run of excellent serves that embarrassed the Malory passers and drew the homeside close to an unlikely 5th set. However, it was not to be, and Malory showed why they are the reigining champions, closing the set, and the match.

Team: Rachel Laybourne, Lucy Wicks, Helen Brown, Chantel Mortimer, Katy Virr, Rachel Bragg, Sara Palmer

Portsmouth COMAX v W2   3-2   18-25 23-25 25-23 25-17 15-12

W3 v Cambridge   0-3    20-25 21-25 14-25

7th / 8th December 2002
 
Saturday    Men 1 vs Oxford Students   0 - 3   19-25, 19-25, 23-25
 
On the last weekend of volleyball for the Men's first team before Christmas, Loughboough turned the disappointment of losing to Oxford on Saturday evening into a show of power against Luton, Sunday noon.

Loughborough managed to assemble a full squad for this encounter, but with Dan Elliot still out with an ankle injury, and captain Dave Lovell joining him on the sidelines, it proved to be a very tough encounter against a strong Oxford team.

Loughborough were slow to start in the first set, and Oxford capitalised on this, gaining a comfortable lead that never looked in great danger, winning the set 25-19.

Loughborough needed to pick their level up, and did so at the start of the second set, with better passing from Barry Shillabeer and Mark Speake. This allowed some good combinations between setter Jon Pennock and middle players Will Roberts and Lucasz Radosinski. However with Lboro having edged in front, Oxford lifted their game and came back. With the help of too many service reception errors on the Loughborough side, and a very indecisive referee, Oxford were able to win another set 25-19.

In the third set, Loughborough again dominated early on, due mainly to the platform provided by their passing and defence. Libero Joe Shaffery, Speake and Shillabeer began passing as a unit which the Oxford team could not penetrate. Luke Rosenberg's power hitting was just too much for the Oxford defence, accumulating a total of 13 kills in the game. Again Oxford came back in the later stages of the set, Loughborough being unable to take advantage of the early lead which they had fought hard to achieve. Too many errors allowed Oxford to steal the game 25-23 and win the match.

Sunday   Men 1 vs Luton Lions   3 - 0  25-20, 25-8, 25-20

Loughborough had to pick themselves up from the disappointing result against Oxford, and to show that they could be one of the best teams in this division. With only one significant change from the Oxford game, Dave Ball replacing Lucas Radosinski in the middle, Loughborough looked to show their dominance against a middle placed Luton team.

The first set began well, with Luke Rosenberg continuing his great form with some superb hitting and blocking. Setter Jon Pennock tore the Luton block apart with his great range of setting, and only one team looked to be in it from the start, with Loughborough winning 25-20.

The next set was one of the best Loughborough have played this season, limiting the opposition to a total of just 8 points. One of the key factors in this was some first-rate serving by Will Roberts, winning 11 consecutive points, and forcing the opposition to call two timeouts to try and deal with this run of points (but he still had to do 80 press-ups!!)  And with Luton finding it nearly impossible to get past the block of Dave Ball, and on the few occasions that they did, Mark Speake was throwing himself around the back court in order to make some top class pick-ups, the morale on the Luton team was falling fast.

The third set proved to be a little more challenging, but with setter Jon Pennock bringing all his hitters into the game, Luton were always going to be second best, Loughborough winning 25-20.

Barry Shillabeer's passing throughout the game was a clinic in service reception for Loughborough's hardy Sunday morning fans. Libero Joe Shaffery had another solid game, with his performances just getting better and better. Simon McGowan came on to add some much needed firepower from the service line, and Lucasz Radosinski showed everybody the full range of his vocal talents.

Team:

Will Roberts (captain), Jon Pennock, Barry Shillabeer, Luke Rosenberg, Dave Ball, Mark Speake, Joe Shaffery, Simon McGowan, Lucasz Radosinski, Matt Rogers and the injured Dan Elliot and Dave Lovell.

Women 2 vs Tonbridge   3 - 0    25-23, 25-15, 25-20

Having had a great game against Malory the previous week Loughborough, confident about a positive result, had their optimism realised.

The girls knew things were looking up when they saw not only coach Henryk Lakomy sitting on the bench. Both Ketlin and Sara joined us from the thirds to strengthen our squad for this important game.

The first set was close with both teams level pegging; however some excellent attacking from Ketlin pushed Loughborough into a lead which proved enough as they took the set 25-23.

In the second set they were able to contain the Tonbridge hitters much more effectively and dominated most of the play. Ausra's offence and Deb's defence lead to the team taking the set 25-15 and a 2- 0 lead.

Coach Lakomy chose to bring on Sara Eccleston in the third set, where she picked holes in the opponents' serve recieve, serving an ace. Captain Nicky Jones dominated at the net with a number of excellent blocks on the Tonbridge middle players. The team took the set 25-20 and the match 3-0 to provide a convincing win.

Team: Nicky Jones (captain), Debbie Spokes, Ausra Glozeckaite, Hedda Meijer, Emma Surma, Sara Eccleston, Ketlin Varki.

Thames Valley vs Women 1   1 - 3   16-25, 23-25, 30-28, 16-25

 

30th Nov / 1st Dec 2002
 
Dulwich Tuskers v Women 1  1 - 3   21-25, 25-16, 14-25, 8-25
Report to follow
 
Women 2 v Malory London   1 - 3   22-25, 25-21, 21-25, 19-25
 
Loughborough faced their toughest test of the season so far when they faced unbeaten league leaders London Malory.
 
The girls showed no nerves and started strongly with captain Nicky Jones connecting well with Emma Surma through the middle. The set was closely fought but the visitors came through to take it 22-25. Despite losing the first set Loughborough were not down and produced some excellent volleyball in the second set - the Londoners knew they weren't going to have an easy visit to the Midlands. Ausra Glozeckaite and Debbie Spokes were outstanding in defence and it was Loughborough who levelled the match with a 25-21 win.

The opposition made some changes for the next set but it didn't disrupt Loughborough's rhythm and a number of roof blocks from Hedda Meijer on Malory's main hitter kept the teams level. However the visitors experience saw them through to win the set 21-25.
 
In the final set the team battled hard with Ellie Kawai serving especially well, but Malory proved too strong and took the fourth set 19-25.

Despite the loss Loughborough had produced their best volleyball of the season and hope to carry this form into their next match against Tonbridge this Saturday 7th December 3 pm start in Victory Hall.

Team: Nicky Jones (c), Emma Surma, Hedda Meijer, Debbie Spokes, Ellie Kawai,
Ausras Glozeckaite, Sara Eccleston.

 
Women 3  v  Warwick Riga    3 - 2   22-25, 21-25, 28-26, 25-21, 15-7
 
VICTORY AT LAST!!!

A significantly improved performance from Luf 3 against the experienced Warwick Riga side earned them a first home win of the season by 3 - 2.

The first set was a repeat performance of many previous matches, fighting from behind, but still not being able to convert  hard won rallies into a first set victory. However, great team spirit, lead by Lisa Purcell, setter and Captain, encouraged the team to dig that bit deeper and fight harder.

After losing the second set 25-22 the home side were determined not to finish the game without a giving Riga something to fight over. Some great defensive play showed that the extensive extreme defense practice in training was certainly paying off!! Inspirational play from Jen Hedgecock as opposite, and outside hitting  from
Clare Greenwood.

Luf 3 then won a closely fought third set, 28-26, saving 2 match points along the way. With a more positive attitude and newly found confidence. Some great passing from libero Tracey Davies, and covering from Sara Eccleston, who also had a great game out of position through the middle. With some further middle hitting experience, she is sure to be an even bigger threat in the future!

The fourth set continued with high spirits and strong fight from all players. The team starting to enjoy the game! Improved blocking from Selma Van Houwelingen and outside hitting from Ketlin Varkki, along with improved backcourt defensive play from Laura Bebbington (the bruises prove it!!) saw L'boro take the match to a tie break.

This complete change in fortune for Luf 3 caused Warwick to deteriorate significantly, leaving Luf to finish the game off with some strong serving by all, winning the final set 15-7.

Let's hope that this newly found determination and confidence will continue during the rest of the season, keeping the team within Division 2. Bring on Chelmsford!
 
Leeds v Men 1   3 - 0   25-16, 25-20, 25-16

MAGNIFICENT SEVEN CAUGHT OUT BY ACHILLES HEEL

A vastly depleted squad of 7 players made the trip up to Leeds for the second time in two weeks, looking to record a hat trick of wins against these opponents. As the two previous matches had been tight, the Loughborough squad knew that without the likes of Mark Speake, Luke Rosenberg, Dave Ball and Dan Elliott this match would be a tall order.

Responding to coach McKeever's team talk, Loughborough's "Magnificent Seven" went into the warm-up with all guns blazing: Dave Lovell and Will Roberts both narrowly missing out on bouncing the ball onto the Becketts Park balcony with ferocious hitting, aided by Jon Pennock's generous warm-up setting!!

However, just six-points in, captain Dave Lovell was left lying prostrate on court in agony, after turning his ankle following a back-court attack. He was to play no further part in the game, but should not be as long-term a casualty as Dan Elliott, whose season has not yet begun after injury in Holland in September.

This injury wrought havoc with Loughborough's line-up, rookie Simon McGowan having to step into the outside hitting role alongside regular libero Joe Shaffery.  Loughborough were undone by strong jump serving from Leeds captain Steve Bromell, and despite a stunning roof block by Jon Pennock (whose celebration was nearly a work of Art) lost the set 25-16.

Resilience in the face of such adversity gave Loughborough heart, and came out for the 2nd set with evident confidence, and a re-jigged line-up. Will Roberts and Barry Shillabeer made some good kills on the wings, and Simon McGowan timed a middle attack perfectly, visibly shaking the Leeds team into action. However, Loughborough, much to the frustration of coach Mike McKeever couldn't maintain a consistent level and went down 25-20.

The turn-around was again optimistic; Loughborough knew that it was their own errors that were proving to be their worst enemy. Leeds though, raced to an early lead that Loughborough, despite rallying strongly, could not overcome. The height of Lucasz Radosinski kept Leeds middle-attack largely at bay, although ex-England player Andrew Queen did manage to show signs of his former class. A disappointing set ended with stand-in captain Will Roberts hitting long, thus confirming that he wouldn't be gaining any more votes in the Player of the Year award based on today's performance!!

Disappointment for all was tinged with realism about the mountainous task that had faced the team, particularly when Dave Lovell left the court.

Next weekends home double header against Oxford Students (Sat 7th Dec 6.30) and Luton (Sun 12 noon, both Victory Hall) will provide an immediate opportunity for the team to bounce back with a bang, and a treat for all our fans is already being greatly anticipated!! 

Nottingham Rockets v  Loughborough Men  2    3 - 2

Loughborough got off to a good start in this East Midlands Division 1 match, winning the first set comfortably. It could have been even easier but for several net faults. Good hitting through the outside caused problems for the opposition all through the first set.

Winning their first set of the season went to the team's heads though, and the next two sets were riddled with mistakes as Loughborough lost their composure, and the coach Speakes temper flared in the middle of the third set.

The fourth set saw Loughborough recover their rhythm, and they started to hit the ball again. Good passing and hitting resulted in an early lead that Loughborough never looked like loosing.

Having clawed themselves back into the game and levelled it at 2-2, Loughborough looked in good shape going into the fifth set. However, a slow start in the 5th from which they never recovered was their undoing.

Team: Setters; A. Leung and A. North: Middle Hitters; R. Anta, P. Keronega and J. Wise: Outside Hitters; O. Collingbourne, G. Mamet and E. Nyabadza: Libero; A. Riding.

23rd / 24th November 2002
 
Loughborough Men stay top of Div 2
 
Salford 2 (Chester) vs Men 1   0 - 3   19 - 25, 21 - 25, 23 - 25

Loughborough Students Men's team will enjoy a third week with all other teams in the division looking up at them, as they sit top of the table after another emphatic victory.

Loughborough travelled to Salford 2 without off-setter Luke Rosenberg, but perhaps more key to the team was the absence of coach Michael McKeever. Dan Elliott and Dave Ball were also missing from the squad with injuries. Barry Shillabeer stepped into the opposite role as he has done so effectively this season, and the team looked none the weaker, despite the absences.

The Students started the first set at a high tempo, exactly what captain David Lovell had called for in his pre-match team talk. Loughborough controlled the game from the first point and it became clear very early that the game was going to be 100% about how well (or badly) Loughborough played. As Loughborough built an early first set lead, it was becoming apparent to everyone in the hall that the visitors were also up against 2 imaginative lines people and a rather creative scorer, to put it nicely!!!  Despite the problems this created, with Mark Speake having a spike called out that landed at least 1m inside the baseline, Loughborough were able to remain in control of all aspects of play and closed out the first set 25-19.

With all players swinging well, the first pass was targeted for improvement in set 2. With both Lovell and Speake passing above 2.5 for the entire game, setter Jon Pennock was able to stretch the Chester block at will and allow middle men Will Roberts and Luc Radosinski to hit consistently through open channels at the net.

Loughborough built a healthy lead to 14-7, but it was at this point that the unsporting nature of the opposition and the outright cheating of the match officials (not including the referees I must add) came to a head. As Loughborough sided out, their score rather than progressing to 15 somehow remarkably was taken back a point to 13!!!  After lengthy discussions the Students realised the best thing to do was to concentrate on playing the superior volleyball and winning the match. But Loughborough lost their cool for the next 5 minutes and Chester came back into the set and stole a 17-15 lead . Tempers were becoming heated and the referee was ignoring comments coming through the net as Chester became rather cocky as they led for the first time in the match. Ironically it was Loughboroughs Speake who was carded for showing his frustration by hitting the ball into the floor after a point, despite the abuse coming through the net. Things were certainly getting fiery, and even volleyball legend Colin Roberts (father of Will) watching from the side was getting wound up by the unsporting antics of the home time. At this point captain Dave Lovell called a time out during which Loughborough regrouped and focused on the job in hand. They came back onto court with the perfect answer, Luc Radosinski putting in a run of 8 serves as Loughborough claimed the second set 25-21, showing a steely character and greater maturity that this team has acquired in recent months.

After this eventful second set (!) the third set started as the second had finished, with Chester trying everything they could to put Loughborough off their game. With immense pressure being put on the first referee from the home team it wasnt long before some imaginative decisions were going their way. Loughborough managed to keep their noses in front throughout the set, but with 11 hitting errors in set 3 alone, Loughborough were allowing Chester to remain in a game that could have been killed off long before. However with the Loughborough block functioning more effectively and kills being made at crucial points from Speake and Lovell, who both ended the game with 16 kills each, Loughboroughs superiority was confirmed with a 25-23 score line and a 3 - 0 whitewash.

The match was not a particularly pleasant one but as libero Joe Shaffery pointed out at the conclusion the only way to deal with a team like that is to beat them 3-0.

Squad: Dave Lovell, Will Roberts, Jon Pennock, Mark Speake, Barry Shillabeer, Lucas Radosinski, Joe Shaffery, Simon McGowan, Dan Elliott.

 
Women 1 vs Wessex   3 - 1   28-30 25-19 25-19 25-14
 
Women 2 vs Leeds   3 - 0   27-25 25-18 25-13
Report to follow
 
Women 2 vs Telford (KO Cup 2nd Round)   3 - 0   25-10 25-16 25-10
 
Wolverhampton vs Women 3   3-0  25-13 25-16 25-22
 

 
16th / 17th November 2002
 
Loughborough do double over Leeds
Loughborough Men's first team was in action this weekend beating Leeds twice, on Saturday at home in the league and Sunday away in the cup.
 
Saturday 16th November
Men 1 vs Leeds   3 - 1   25-21, 25-27, 25-17, 25-18
 
Loughborough started the game in third position in the league.  Any result would see them take the top spot but a win would put them two points clear.
Loughborough started confidently taking the first set 25-21.  Some excellent jump serving from Mark Speake rattled the Leeds passing unit and their defence was run ragged by the powerful hitting of captain Dave Lovell.
The second set was a lot tighter with  L'boro's Will Roberts connecting sweetly with setter Jon Pennock in the middle.  But the outside attack from the home team let them down with too many players hitting wildly and Leeds volleyball legend, Mike Koumbouzis, blocking superbly through 2.  Leeds evened up the match at one set apiece.  One player deserving particular praise is Luke Rosenburg who hit seven kills with only one error in set 2.
 
The third set and Loughborough made a concentrated effort to reduce the errors in their game.  They did this successfully, managing to contain Leeds to just seventeen points.  More of the same in the fourth with superb hitting from Lovell and Speake, and again some good quicks attacks from Will Roberts. When the Leeds captain Steve Bromell got yellow carded over a handbags incident at 21 - 18 Leeds lost their focus and the match.
 
A good game all round by all the Loughborough players, libero Joe Shaffery made some excellent digs and middle player Lukasz Radosinski made a couple of telling kills through the middle.
 
 
Sunday 17th November
Leeds vs Men 1   2-3   29-31, 25-23, 25-21, 20-25, 13-15
Loughborough travelled to Leeds on the back of the previous evening's good win at home but had to pick themselves up for the early departure time of ten oclock.  Leeds had a stronger squad than the previous game with extra players including their  first choice setter Chris Easton.
 
The first set was very tight with both teams battling hard to find a significant advantage.  The Loughborough attack was working well with all the attacking players getting on the score sheet.  Leeds had six set points but couldn't stop the Loughborough side out game.  The set was finally won on Loughboroughs first set point by 31 - 29.
 
The second set was dominated by the errors from the Loughborough team, hitting into the net and out the back of the court.  But to their credit when they did swing with a little more precision the Leeds block couldnt get anywhere near them.  There was another fine display of hitting from Luke Rosenburg, who, whilst the rest of the team was swinging wildly made six kills.

After losing the second set and the third in much the same  way it was crucial that L'boro reduced their error count.  The players realised this and all raised their game.  With standout service reception and defence and excellent distribution setter Jon Pennock had all the Loughborough attackers swinging.  It was an awesome sight to see four attackers frequently link their attack timing to put the Leeds block under tremendous pressure.  Consistent hitting from Lovell, Speake, Rosenberg and Roberts along with good blocking from middle player Lukasz Radosinski ensured that Loughborough went on to take the match to a fifth and decisive set.
 
Loughborough started the fifth the way they finished the fourth, fighting hard and trading side-outs with Leeds, finally edging a match that could have gone to either team 15-13. Loughborough's battling qualities shown over these two matches show their determination to stay as promotion contenders over the next few months.
Team - both days: Dave Lovell (captain), Jon Pennock, Luke Rosenberg, Mark Speake, Will Roberts, Lukasz Radosinski, Joe Shaffery, Simon McGowan.
 
Women 1 vs Tonbridge   3 - 0   25-21, 25-16, 25-16
 
Tees Valley  vs  Women 1   0-3   11-25, 12-25, 5-25
 
Shape Mavericks of Malmesbury vs Women 3   3-1  20-25, 25-18, 25-23, 27-25

Travelling down to Bristol with only 6 players, due to illness and absence of three players, was never going to be an easy job! With Lisa Purcell setting, Jen Hedgecock playing opposite, Clare Greenwood and Ketlin Varkki outside hitting, and Laura Bebbington playing middle along with Sara Eccleston - who was incidentally playing out of position!

The first set started off convincingly, with some superb serving from Clare Greenwood taking the score to 6-0. A solid performance by all saw a first set victory for Loughborough.

However, due to some poor defence and communication the next three sets slipped through their grasp, giving Mavericks their first win of the season. However, a tough fight for both teams; the last set ending in a 26-24 battle.

Therefore Lougborough 3 are still in search of their second win of the season! Lets hope this will happen on Saturday 23rd November against the City of Wolverhampton.

9th / 10th November 2002

Thames Valley vs Women's 2   3 - 1  23-25 25-22 25-15 25-21

For the first meeting of the season between these teams Loughborough were away. However all did not go to plan as Loughborough drove to the expected venue only to find out it had been changed, adding a further 40mins to the trip.
The team managed to arrive in time and were suprised to find a remarkably similar Thames Valley team to last year, as their early results this season had indicated a weaker team.

In the first set Loughborough got of to a good start with some good connections between middle player Debbie Spokes and setter Emma Surma. The team lead from start to finish winning 25-23. Both teams were well matched and this was proven by a tight second set which the hosts just edged 25-22 mainly due to a good serving run from one of the opposition.

A slow start from Lboro in the third allowed Thames Valley an early lead which the girls never recovered from. Despite some excellent defensive play from team libero Ellie Kawai and Claire Taylor the set was lost 25-15. Morale was down for the fourth set but some excellent blocking from captain Nicky Jones, and effective attacking through the outside from Hedda Meijer and Ausra Glozeckaite meant Loughborough were not far behind but the home teams determination brought them the crucial points at the end and the set was won by Thames Valley 25-21.

Team: Nicky Jones (captain), Ausra Glozeckaite, Hedda Meijer, Ellie Kawai, Claire Taylor, Emma Surma, Debbie Spokes.Coach Henryk Lakomy.

Aschombe vs Women's 1   3 - 1   25-12 25-18 21-25 25-17

After losing the first set 25-12, Loughborough students settled into their own game. Liane Herbert put in a good run of serves to draw us level early on in the second set; this was backed up with some great net play from Chantel Mortimer who was towering above her opposing blockers!! This put the Loughborough Students in great contention for the set. After a few unforced errors Ashcombe created a lead which the Loughborough Students just couldn't make up and they ran away with the set 25-18.

Loughborough put in a good fight in the third set, with some powerful swinging from the outside hitters and some great passing from libero Katy Virr. The set was point for point until Loughborough pulled away from 17-17 with a run of serves from Lucy Wicks to gain a 23-17 lead. The set was won 25-21.

At 11-11 in the fourth set, Kate Fiddler an ex Loughborough player went back to the line for Ashcombe Dorking and caused the Loughborough reception a few problems. Despite a lot of effort and fight Loughborough lost the fourth set 25-17, losing the match 3-1.

Men's 1 vs Leicester   3 - 1  25-21, 19-25, 25-19, 25-23

Nice one lads!

In a match that can only be described as a classic highly-charged local derby, Loughborough clenched a win over Leicester in 4 sets, to keep themselves in the running for promotion into volleyball's top division.

Leicester started with all guns blazing, taking an early lead and putting Loughborough on the back foot. But it was only a few points until Loughborough got up to the feverishly high pace that Leicester had started. Luke Rosenberg, after a year out, had a good start, hitting the ball hard and blocking fiercely.  However, the real stars where the outside hitters Dave Lovell and Mark Speake who got Loughborough out of trouble and lead them to a first set win by killing the ball both consistently and convincingly.

Leicester fought back hard in the second set, with a steely determination that proved they were not going down without a fight. They went on to take the second set to 19 - score 1 - 1.  Loughborough's middle players Will Roberts, Luke 'the Pole' Radosinski and Dave 'Bally' Ball worked tirelessly in breaking down Leicesters block and with the help of some fine setting from Jon Pennock and defence from libero Joe Shaffery, L'boro edged towards vctory, taking the 3rd set, 25-19. In a titanic 4th set  Loughborough were just too strong, edging it 25-23.

A fine day and a win that means Loughborough men's volleyball is without doubt a force to be reckoned with this year. And with an asset on the team such as Dave Lovell, whose knowledge of the volleyball rulebook is enough to unnerve even the top referees, who knows what may happen .......

Team: Dave Lovell (captain), Jon Pennock, Luke Rosenberg, Mark Speake, Will Roberts, Dave 'Bally' Ball, Barry Shillabeer, Luke 'the Pole' Radosinski, Joe Shaffery, Dan Elliott

 

Women's 3 vs Cleobury   1 - 3  19-25, 23-25, 25-19, 26-28

Women's 3rds edged out by Cleobury

Loughborough Students 3 faced stiff competition from Cleobury, one place ahead in the league, so from the start a tough fight was expected.

After the previous losses the team were determined from the start to have an improved performance and to convert this determination into a victory.But the first set was a convincing win for Cleobury, 25-15. Maybe Loughborough used this set as a warm-up!

Loughborough then became more fired up, giving the opposition a determined fight. However Loughborough lost the second set by a very small margin, due to the inability to push through from 17-17, making too many basic passing errors.There were some positive points, with great play at the net from Jen Hedgecock and outside hitting from Clare Greenwood.

Being two sets down Loughborough's willingness to fight became more apparent. Starting the third set extremely convincingly, with improved blocking from Selma Van Houwelingen and Ketlin Varkki  and great setting decisions from Lisa Purcell, the team were really started to enjoy playing!  This inspired play was finished with a run of  fantastic serves from Sara Eccleston (who was actually playing out of position as a middle hitter).

The fourth set was another great fight on both sides of the net. With scores tied at 25-25 and Cleobury to serve the match was looking to be a 5 setter! However, some simple passing errors lost the match.

The team are very looking forward to the return fixture against Cleobury next March.

Team: Lisa Purcell (setter), Jen Hedgecock (opposite), Sara Eccleston, Clare Greenwood and Ketlin Varkki (outside hitters), Selma Van Houwelingen and Laura Bebbington (middle), Tracey Davies (libero) and Nicky Hawley (substitute). Coach Henryk Lakomy.

26th / 27th October 2002
 
Women 1 vs Portsmouth    1 - 3
 
Women 2 vs Dulwich Tuskers   3 - 1   25-19 23-25 25-19 26-24
 
Loughborough 2 faced Dulwich Tuskers who were promoted from Division 2 as champions last season. Coach Henryk Lakomy invited Tracy Davies from Loughborough 3 to the team, as Ellie Kawai was unavailable. Emma Surma started setting with Claire Taylor playing opposite, Captain Nicky Jones and Debbie Spokes through middle, with Hedda Meijer and Ausra Glozeckaite hitting outside.

Having had a good warm up Loughborough were all fired up for the game ahead. Some excellent serving from Ausra led the team to a 5-0 lead and a great start to the game. Loughborough kept the momentum going and without any problems closed out the first set 25-19.
 
The second set saw Dulwich come into the game a bit more but good defensive play from Debbie Spokes kept in touch. Neither team found themselves more than two points ahead of the other and in a tense conclusion to the set it was an unconventional dig that won it for the visitors.
 
The girls knew that they were the better the team and went out in the third set knowing they had to cut out the unforced errors. Excellent net play from Hedda Meijer kept Loughborough's noses ahead but with the team 21-19 up the scorer noticed that Dulwich were using the wrong server, and after a short break which included a polite conversation between the 2 captains Loughborough were awarded the point. Dulwich never regained their composure and the next three points and the set went to Loughborough.

The fourth set was another close affair with Claire Taylor producing some good hitting, despite re-injuring her thumb, and Emma Surma distributing the ball well. Loughborough took the set at the second attempt 26-24 for their second win of the seasonand are looking forward to their next match against Thames Valley on Sunday 10th November.
 
 
Salford vs Women 3   3 - 0
 
Unfortunately another undeserved defeat for the inexperienced Loughborough 3 side. The score does not reflect the significant improvement of the team, compared to previous performances.

Particular mention should go to Tracey Davies, in a hugely improved performance in the role of libero, plus some consistent serving from Sara Eccleston. However, blocking has been identified as a particular area of weakness, which will gradually improve with practice. Overall, a good match had by all, shame the result does not show the improvement of the team as a whole.
Team list:
Lisa Purcell (Setter and Captain)
Clare Greenwood (Outside hitter)
Jen Hedgecock (Opposite)
Sara Eccleston (Outside hitter)
Laura Bebbington (Middle hitter)
Tracey Davies (Libero)
Ketlin Varkki (Outside hitter)
Nicky Hawley (Middle hitter)
Selma Van Houwelingen (Middle hitter)
 
Salford vs Men 1   3-1   18-25, 25-10, 25-15, 28-26
 
For Loughborough Mens first team, this was a game to test character as well as the players adaptability. With the starting squad being broken with the injury of Dan Elliott, the last thing that the team needed was another injury. The setter holds together any volleyball team and the unfortunate ankle injury of Jon Pennock in a recent BUSA match against Cambridge removed this key role from the team. For this game Mark Speake took over this position, having had experience 3 years previously with the England Juniors.
 
The starting six consisted of Mark Speak setting and Luke Rosenberg opposite, Barry Smith and David Lovell outside hitting, William Roberts and David Ball playing through the middle. The squad was completed by Joe Shaffery, libero, Lucas Radoski,  middle and Simon McGowan, outside.
 
Despite the improvised line up motivation was high and the prospect of four matches undefeated seemed in the team's grasp. Winning the first point, Loughborough started how they intended to carry on. All hitters played well, with Smith topping the attacking kills table and Rosenberg not far behind. Not one player had a good run of serves on either side and technical volleyball with simple attacks and determination won Loughborough the set 25- 18.
 
Returning in the second set a little complacent, Lboro's first few attacks were blocked by Salford. It was clear to see the mental effect of this as the hitting power decreased. Speake used his hitting power in his jump serve, being the only player to serve more than one in a row. With only four attacks (by Smith and Lovell) Loughborough lost their first set of the National League 25- 10.
 
In the third set Radosinski was brought on for Ball through the middle with Shaffery as the libero. The emphasis on attacking was apparent as all players on court killed a ball (except for Shaffery as he was libero).  Despite this effort, the team let too many errors creep in and were defeated again, 25- 15.
 
The result so far meant that the fourth set was going to be a fight. As in the end of set three, Shaffery played libero, coming on for Radosinski. Eight kills from Lovell with zero attacking errors demonstrated his hitting consistency and determination. Shaffery produced a perfect passing record at his libero debut (I add that this statistic came from only one pass!) Roberts jump in the block seemed to be getting higher and higher. Throughout the set the points were close. On match point a ball in the face to Roberts displayed how a ball can be blocked with any part of the body. Shaken but not stirred he returned as the team fought, but to no avail, finishing 28-26 down.

19th / 20th October 2002
 
Women 1 vs Women 2   3 - 0  25 - 22, 25 - 20, 25 - 17
 
The second's perspective
 
Last Saturday saw the first meeting of the season of Loughborough's First and Second womens teams, coached by Craig Handford and Henryk Lakomy respectively. Loughborough 2's squad was; Hedda Meijer and Ausra Glocikezaite playing outside, Nicky Jones, Debbie Spokes, and Claire Taylor all available to play middle, Emma Surma setting, Ellie Kawai playing opposite, and Karen Ingham strengthening the backcourt by playing libero.

The first set started well for Loughborough 2, and with Ellie's short serving we found ourselves with a 16-10 lead. However we remained stuck on one rotation which allowed Loughborough 1 back into the game, and consequently they took the opening set by 25-22.

Having taken confidence from the first set we started well in set two with a 4-0 lead, and some excellent defensive teamwork allowed us to compete point for point. We reached 18-18 but then found the service of Jen Taylor too strong and lost the second 25-20.
 
In the third set we never really found our rhythm and Loughborough 1 raised their game. Claire Taylor came on to replace Debbie Spokes who is still recovering from an ankle injury; however the set ended 25- 17 and the game 3-0.
 
Women 1 vs Leeds   3 - 1   17-25, 25-16, 25-19, 25-18
 
Wessex vs Women 2   3 - 2   26-24, 25-23, 16-25, 12-25, 15-10
 
Oxford Students vs Women 3 - match not played due to unsafe equipment; L'boro awarded points.

12th/13th October 2002
 
Tonbridge vs Men 1   0-3   21-25, 24-26, 24-26

Loughborough grind out another 3-0 win

Loughborough men hit the road for their second successive away fixture as they headed south for a double header with Tonbridge and Essex Estonians. The squad was saddened to learn that this would be fresher Matt Rogers last game for the club because he leaves Loughborough to retake his A-Levels and hopefully return on a new course next year. The news didn't get any better with Joe Shaffery struggling to recover from conjunctivitis in time for the game. It was hoped he would be able to play on Sunday. However, the team were boosted by the return to the club after a years absence of Luke Rosenberg to add weight to the team's hitting power. With Mark Speake back in the starting line up, Will Roberts moved to the middle joining Dave "Bally" BallJon Pennock, Dave Lovell and Barry Shillabeer completed the first six.

Loughborough started well and dominated the early exchanges building an impressive 21-13 lead in the first set, thanks mainly to their superior hitting and block alignment. Middle hitters Roberts and Ball proved unstoppable, linking well with setter Pennock. At this point unforced errors started to plague the performance but after a few nervous exchanges the set was eventually claimed 25-21.

Loughborough seemed unable to recover from this stutter and struggled to produce the fluent volleyball they had produced earlier in the match. The second set started as the first had finished with unforced errors becoming too frequent for coach Michael McKeever's liking. Despite this Loughborough built a healthy 16-10 lead, thanks largely to Barry Shillabeer who continued his good early season form. This impressive lead was again wiped out by a run of 7 Tonbridge points as Loughborough struggled to close out the set. From this point the sides traded and the introduction of Luke Rosenberg seemed to give Loughborough the edge as they took the set 26-24.

The third set proved to be as tight as the second had been. However Mark Speake was swinging well on the outside and showed his full array of shots to good effect, topping the hitting stats with 11 kills. As the set progressed Loughborough kept their noses in front and the introduction of Matt Rogers helped to strengthen the middle.  With Loughborough leading 25-24 it was left to captain Dave Lovell to jump serve an ace to claim match point for the second match in succession.

Despite a below par performance it was encouraging to see the side grind out a 3-0 win when not playing at their best. It was felt the score was closer than the difference between the sides but 3-0 is 3-0!!!! Next up is Essex Estonians in the morning as the boys look to build on todays performance and secure another 3 points.

Squad: Dave Lovell, Will Roberts, Dave Ball, Jon Pennock, Barry Shillabeer, Mark Speake, Luke Rosenberg, Dan Elliott, Joe Shaffery, Matt Rogers.

 

Essex Estonians vs Men 1   0-3  21-25, 19-25, 17-25

Men hit form when it counts
 
After an evening of takeaway pizza and watching England somehow scrape past Slovakia, the Loughborough mens team arrived in Chelmsford confident that they could repeat the result they had achieved 24 hours earlier. In stark contrast to Saturday's performance Loughborough men produced their best volleyball for some time to record their third consecutive 3-0 victory against a strong Essex side.
 
Loughborough started with Matt Rogers stepping into the middle, as the rest of the starting line up remained unchanged from Saturday's victory. From the first point Loughborough's high intensity was evident as the opening exchanges produced some impressive volleyball up to 16-16. From this point Loughborough raised their game, and 2 successive kills in the middle from Will Roberts helped Loughborough to edge in front and claim the first set 25-21. Roberts continued this good form throughout the match, as he recorded no hitting errors in the whole game.
 
The second set began as tightly as the first up to 11-11. From this point captain Dave Lovell hammered home a series of 10 consecutive jump serves, including 4 straight aces to send Loughborough into a 21-11 lead. This gave Loughborough the momentum they needed, and coupled with Mark Speake making 7 kills in the set, Loughborough were rampant as they took the second set 25-19.
 
Loughborough started the third set as they had finished the second and were in no mood to lessen their grip on the game. The passing unit of Barry Shillabeer, Speake and Lovell was holding solid under the barrage of Essex jump serves, allowing setter Jon Pennock to link well with middle man Matt Rogers, who was signing off in some style by dominating at the net. As the set progressed Loughborough always had their noses in front with all 6 players recording kills during the set. In particular opposite man Barry Shillabeer was continuing his good form with a solid passing and hitting display, recording several kills in all 3 sets.
 
With Loughborough leading 23-17 they produced the play of the game. As Speake hit left handed through zone 4 he fell away under the net and into the free zone on the other side of the court, somehow not fouling the net. Remarkably, he then recovered back into the Loughborough court after running around the referees stand. Setter Jon Pennock decided cleverly to set back to Speake, who, making his approach from the side wall, hammered home the point! As match point was brought up, the team descended into circus chants much to the disgust of the Essex players! All that was left was for Lovell to hammer another ace serve (his 3rd ace match-point in succession) to end the game in style.
 
After the match coach Michael McKeever said that this was the best he had seen the team play outside of a BUSA Finals competition. This bodes well for the rest of the season as the players feel there is still more to come, especially with middle man Dan Elliott yet to return from a broken ankle. The victory was especially sweet for setter Jon Pennock as he got one over on his old team mates, giving him bragging rights in Essex for the next 12 months!
 
Squad: Dave Lovell, Jon Pennock, Mark Speake, Barry Shillabeer, Will Roberts, Matt Rogers, Dave Ball, Joe Shaffery, Dan Elliott.
 
 
Ashcombe vs Women 2   3-1  25-18 23-25 26-24 25-19
 
For the second match of the season Loughborough's second team were away to last season's league runners up, Ashcombe. The team arrived in plenty of time for a 12-noon warm-up. Ashcombe are a very experienced team so the aspirations for the game were to enjoy it, play well, trying out a variety of attacks that the team  had been practising in training.

The first set got off to a nervous start and Loughborough quickly found themselves 4-0 down, failing to cope with some challenging serves. However great spiking by Ausra took Loughborough into the lead at 10-9. Loughborough rallied well with Claire Taylor showing her potential as a middle hitter, but the team went down 25-18. Coach Henryk Lakomy was positive during the change over, and with his infinite wisdom sent out the same starting six as the first set.

Loughborough had first serve and Hedda Meijer kept it, by roofing Ashcombe's Michelle Nudds who reacted with a rather un-sporting glare, much to the amusement of the Loughborough players. The team found their rhythm and a fantastic run of serving by the smallest player on court Ellie Kawai stretched Loughborough's advantage and they took the set to level the match at 1-1.
 
It was level pegging in the third set with captain Nicky Jones connecting well
with the setter Emma Surma on the slide attack. The girls found themselves with set point at 24-23; however a good attack and some clever serving from ex-Loughborough student Kate Fiddler lead to Ashcombe taking a 2-1 lead.

The fourth set proved rather frustrating as Loughborough struggled to find the
form of the previous two sets, and their cause was not helped when Claire Taylor received an injury blocking. The set was lost 25-19, the match 3-1 and the team left for home a little disappointed, but with the knowledge they can compete with the best in the league.
 
 
Warwick Riga vs Women 3   3-1  25-19 25-18 23-25 25-15
 
Unfortunately a loss for the newly constructed Loughborough 3 team. Greatly
captained by Lisa Purcell with some superb setting and team spirit, along with
some fantastic defending from Jen Hedgecock.
As only the second match that the girls have played together as a unit, the
team is still adapting to the new set up, with two new players in the starting
line-up this weekend; Ketlin and Nicky.

A great fight; the first set was very closely matched with great serving and
attacking from both sides of the net. A fantastic third set from Loughborough
3, which opened up the possibility of a 5 set match. However in the end youth
was beaten by experience, with the end result being a 3 - 1 defeat.

 
Women 3 vs University of London (Cup)   0-3  22-25 21-25 10-25

The second match of the day for Loughborough 3 was again lost to a hard-hitting, tall blocking team.
A much improved performance from the previous match, with some great setting once again from Lisa Purcell, along with great hitting from
Clare Greenwood and Ketlin.
The outcome of the match does not really reflect the improvement of the team;
however due to fatigue from the previous match earlier in the day, the match
resulted in a win for the visitors.

Saturday 28th September 2002
 
Telford vs Men 1  0-3 18-25, 16-25, 15-25
 
The first of 4 consecutive away fixtures (nice start to the season, but we got 6 in a row at home later!) saw a convincing 3-0 win over an injury depleted Telford side.
 
A solid preseason (25 hours training and 38 sets) saw an energised team take the floor and win in 58 minutes. With Barry Shillabeer on fire and hitting 10 - 0 (10 kills, 0 errors) and Dave Lovell returning 14 - 3 in attack, Telford's block was well stretched.
NVL virgins Dave Ball and Matt Rogers (their first ever NVL matches) performed magnificently in the middle, getting on the score sheet with both their blocking and hitting.
Setter Pennock demonstrated his ability to jump, fake a hit, pirouette 360 and set the ball to perfection - perfect only if you like a 'banana fish' set that is (see 'News' - Saturnus for an explanation if you are interested).
Will Roberts, having prepared all preseason to play middle, demonstrated his 'universal' nature by stepping in at the last moment to play swing hitter (Speaky had to work or so he said - Telford's his old club you know!).
The squad was completed by Joe Shaffery and Andy Riding who helped out the 2 virgins in the back row and Dan Eliott (broken ankle in preseason and NOT enjoying himself at the moment) on the stats.
 
A good start and an important double header away next - how's the volleyball in Essex and Tonbridge?
 
Team: Barry Shillabeer, Dave Lovell, Jon Pennock, Will Roberts, Dave Ball, Matt Rogers, Joe Shaffery, Andy Riding.
 
Malory vs Women  1   3 -1  25-20, 25-16, 28-30, 25-15
 
Women 2 vs Portsmouth  3-1  25-23, 25-18, 24-26, 25-23
 
Although  Loughborough did not play as well as they can they were good enough to beat Portsmouth 3-1. Portsmouth are a good side - they took a set off Malory the previous weekend. The Loughborough side was disrupted by the loss of Debbie Spokes, middle hitter, with an ankle sprain during pre-season and Claire Taylor had to take over her duties despite never having played in the middle. She did a great job. It was evident that the girls were nervous, often holding back on a hit in an attempt not to make a mistake. Portsmouth were well organised in defence and were able to defend effectively against the underhit ball, extending the rallies. The superior skills of the Loughborough team eventually wore Portsmouth down, with the set scores being 25-23, 25-18, 24-26, 25-23. This match was the first for Emma Surma as a setter, and she did very well indeed. The team will benefit from her steady improvement and experience.
 
Women 3 vs Tameside  0-3  20-25, 14-25, 23-25
 
This was the first time that this team played together and it showed. The Tameside team, although short, was highly experienced, and well organised in defence. The Loughborough team boasted three players who had never played National League before and the nerves told. They lost the match 20-25, 14-25, 23-25. The third set was particularly close fought, with Loughborough leading for most of it, but we simply could not kill it off. It is very clear that the team has a great deal of potential and that it will take some time to realise it. Fitness will be a major issue, and significant emphasis will be placed on this during the forthcoming season.