Women’s B’s vs Plymouth

Women’s BUCS 2 have never been so ready, physically and emotionally, for a game. In the lead up to what would be their last showdown of the season, they did everything right. Friendlies were played against Women’s A and Men’s B/C. Team bonding took place the night before at Bill’s. Spirits were high, and the hunger to win was more than evident. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. In what was undoubtedly their most intense game of the season, the girls lost 3-2 to Plymouth 1st. Despite the result, we couldn’t have gone out in a better way. We fought our hardest and that’s what matters most. Thank you to all the supporters for their loud cheers of encouragement (we couldn’t have done it without you). Thank you to Pati for stepping in as our coach and to Michael for always making sure we’d be taken care of. But most of all, thank you to Julie, Laura, Marina, Abi, and Holly for bringing your A-game every single step of the way – you’ve made your captains proud!

UOBVC Committee Meeting Minutes 20th September

Committee Meeting

Present: Michael, Saskia, Barbara, Anita, Marina, Holly, Wilf, Craig, Arthur, India, Julie, Chet, Abi

 

  • Motion suggested that we have separate committee meetings e.g. for only captains so that we can use the time more efficiently. Voted a good suggestion but need to check the rules for passing motions
  • Celly to join committee as Alumni rep. Alicia potentially no more as kit rep.
  • Presentation of men’s 2nd BDVA medals
  • Reminder of new club structure: for BDVA entry we will enter 1 mens and 2 womens teams.
  • We now have coaches for every team for training but only matches coached will be for first teams. Tim Clifford has resigned. Continuity on coaching might be tough on the weekends for B/C teams but will aim to maintain it as much as possible. All training is at SEH.
  • All captains should have a meeting with their teams (when decided) to tell players what is expected of them. S&C and Motiv8 are now compulsory for all teams. S&C will require a full gym pass (£20 a month) and will be BUCS 1st team (1st 12 players).
  • Financials: keep membership fees as it was last year (a-75, b/c-60, development- 40)
  • Still unsure about sponsorship….we have potential connections via Alex
  • Michael has designed new kit….he will send it through later as a rough idea. Idea is for tshirts and sweatshirts/hoodies. We have to wait until we know about our potential sponsorship. Think estimated time would be November for the order. We have to do a bulk order.
  • Sponsorship: think about Brass pig, Gravity and Mbargo for social sponsorship.
  • Socials:

– Start planning family socials i.e. finding parents. Move the social earlier

– White tshirt social

  • Refereeing course on October 1st
  • We need to sort out rebates for people who refereed from last year
  • Aim to host own referee course later in term
  • Remind Michael to look at rules for BUCS referees for Women’s 1st prem matches and whether we need to get external refs
  • BUCS matches start 11th October
  • Plans for BIG WEDNESDAY to go ahead.
  • Bristol Spikers asked to help out at after school club and we’ve been asked to help. Requirement to be CRB checked (uni can help do it for free). Bristol Spikers train on Sundays and we should help. Suggestion that each week, one team has to volunteer 2 people to help out.
  • Grant applied for from VE. We need to regularly help in schools
  • Coaching: good year to get people involved in coaching, particularly with Get Active sessions. Student leaders programme suggested
  • Set up intramural league starting in January.
  • Fresh Sport mentioned. Information will be sent later: Men’s have 2 sessions on Sunday and Women’s will have 3 (2 x1hr and 1 45min for advanced)
  • Need three mass participation events: christmas tournament, this girl can etc
  • Welcome fair: wear volleyball kit, set up friday morning, know the information on the stall, put social info up on the stall

UOBVC AGM 2017

UOBVC AGM 2017 MINUTES

AGM opened by Michael, with a short speech about our great year of volleyball

ELECTIONS:

  • First was a position of the Club Captain: Michael re-elected
  • Saskia elected as VCC
  • Craig elected for the position of Men’s 1st Team Captain.  Talked about his dream of our teams to be more united
  • Arthur, who was unfortunately absent, has been elected as Men’s 1st vice captain
  • Wilf was next one, running for Men’s 2ns Captain. We voted first, but speech was still demanded by the majority. He mentioned his 3 main points from manifesto

Election Speeches:

Position of Ladies’ 2nd Team captain

Thara:

  • volleyball started as a hobby, but developed and became a full on commitment!
  • Main points – participation – good team, socialising more, generally extremely passionate about volleyball

Anita:

  • those who don’t know her are unfortunate people, but not anymore.
  • Wants to make sure the team next year is more determined and confident
  • concentration on the performance, also passionate, a bit competitive, but that never hurts
  • Team spirit to be maintained

Vote: Thara 31 (captain) & Anita 27 (vice captain)

Arthur finally showed up and gave us a short speech about prospects as Men’s 1st VC

Position of Treasurer

Holly:

  • little description of herself
  • She said she would like to be a treasurer because she is good with money and was voted for by everyone

Position of Social Secretaries

Chet:

  • has enjoyed socials so much
  • said that Bunker was the best club

Barbara:

  • second year psychology – lots of time.
  • Wants to have more casual socials – similar to Come Dine with Me social

India:

  • sociable, in 3rd team,
  • has got experience as she was chair of youth council – good social sec skills.
  • Would maybe like to introduce a different club than bunker

Vote: Barbara 50, India 36, Chet 26

Congratulations to our new Social Secs Barbara and India

Position of PR & Comms

Abi Wooden:

  • Would love to be part of the committee, but is going on placement and so would like to be able to do her role remotely – great option

Position of Outreach Officer

Marina:

  • Overseas student
  • Wants to get people involved in extra activities

Position of Competition Officer

Julie:

  • Get more people involved, promote volleyball club even further.

Michael almost forgot about our lovely Ladies’ 1sts Captains, but thanks to Saskia, our new Vice Club Captain (already fulfilling her responsibilities): Shatha – with a lot of other nicknames (Captain) and Casey (VC).

No one applied for Kit Sec – Oscar gave short description

  • No one still wants it, but new year, new people! Decided that Kit Sec along with Mixed 3rd Team Captains will be elected in 2017/18 (Alicia van den Abeele later agreed to do the position)

Little break for people to have more drinks.

21:57 (meant to be 21:55 – we are so good with timing)

SPEECHES:

Ladies 1st Coaches – Rob and Chris

  • Rob thanked Abi and Mike – absolutely beautiful year, no one would argue.
  • Achievements this year were incredible, made Rob proud.
  • Praise for Ladies 1st Team

           6/12 BDVA

           9/10 BUCS

  • Quote from Lorenzo – Satisfaction lies in the attainment

Ladies’ 1st Team Captain – Lorena

  • Best year, and the last one in uni.
  • Thanking everyone in the club for making our club so incredible.
  • Special thanks to Captains, Chris and Rob, Ladies’ 1st players. Thanks to Lorenzo.

AWARD

MVP – Patti – (many many many good qualities were mentioned by Lorena, definitely deserved)

(Yaaay Anna – Ladies’ 2nd coach showed up!)

Men’s 1st Coach – Tim

  • Our club is special
  • Amazing season
  • 3 teams to cup, 3 teams top of league
  • Have been with club 3 years, has seen how it improves.
  • Men’s 1st team won the league 3 years in a row and won the Cup – an incredible achievement
  • Phenomenal season, phenomenal team!

Pointed out few players

AWARDS

Most improved – Matt (amazing middle), Craig

Awarded to – Michael Wilsher

MVP – Paolo, Oscar

Awarded to – Chris Sherfield

Men’s 1st Team Captain – Chris

  • Big thanks to each Men’s 1st player
  • Mentioned Matteo – reminded Tim of how he said he’d dye his hair blond if they won the league – let’s make it a tradition, gave Tim a special present of blonde hair dye

AWARD

MVP (Players’ player) – Matt

Ladies’ 2nd Coach – Anna

  • Losing voice, but still on stage!
  • Thanking Tim for introducing her to the club – life changing
  • Big challenge, 30 girls on the first training – nothing she couldn’t and improvisation was key
  • Big thanks to all the girls – Won the league, 2nd in Cup finals
  • Next goal – top of BDVA league
  • Thanks to Abi and Michael, Maria and Beccy.
  • Said that being a volleyball player is not only to score, but to keep the spirit.

AWARD

MVP – Beccy  

Ladies’ 2nd Team Captain – Maria

  • She doesn’t have a dream, because her dream already came true.
  • Won all BUCS games

Mentioned players before announcing MVP

  • Bo, Dasha S, Julie – the hardest hitter
  • Antilia – the loudest
  • Bryony – final year, still came to trainings!
  • Thara and Anita – more committed than anyone

AWARD

MVP – Beccy

  • Beccy’s speech (Ladies’ 2nd VC): Humongous thank you to Anna – she took us to the top!

Men’s 2nd Team Coaches – Chris and Rob

  • The most entertaining!
  • They won the last game of the season – great come back
  • Finished 4th in BUCS league
  • Great commitment, great taste for improvement, what more would you want from the team as a coach.

Mikey – THE LINE JUDGE

Ralph – a huge character throughout years

Felipe – always ready to take any responsibilities

Wilf – BDVA, 8 serves in a row, no one as surprised as himself

Kenji – officially the most eligible bachelor of the club

Dom – perfect captain, master of fb post quotes, always turned up to every game

AWARDS

Most improved – Mitch

MVP – Joseph

Players’ player – Kenji

Mixed 3rd Coaches – John and Abi

  • Thanked Maurycy, Barbara and Kit, and mentioned the tremendous spirit of the team.
  • Third team is just as integral to the club, showing great support and turnout to all events.

AWARDS

Most improved – Holly

Most improved (informal) – Davide

MVP – Jessy: Went to Bath to watch 1sts game

MVP – Maurycy

Players’ Player – Barbara

Running short on time – no time for speeches from Maurycy and Barbara: Third Team Captains, but we are sure they have a lot to say!

SPECIAL AWARDS:

Best dance move – Clara

Best motivational speech – Chet

Line judge of the year – Mikey

Best server – Lorena

You are in the wrong sport – Kit

Best couple – Patti and Sylvia

Alumni of the year – Rob (who would doubt that)

SUMMARY OF SEASON:

– 146 members

– Christmas and Ignition: showed how close we are as a club

– 157 BUCS points – woop!

FOR THOSE NOT HERE NEXT YEAR:

  • Thanks to all students on their year abroad
  • Beccy and Karoline going into placement year,
  • Thanks for those who are graduating!
Bath 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 1sts (Trophy Match) 15/02/2017

Bath 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 1sts (Trophy Match) 15/02/2017

On the glorious (aka rainy) morning of 15th of February, the ladies assembled at SEH to make way to the dreaded nearby venue, Bath, for what they hoped would be the last time (for real this time). Although the weather was not particularly motivating, the ladies had plenty of energy supplies from the sweet Valentine’s treats from the day before, and proceeded on the journey enhanced by a diverse playlist of more or less questionable tunes.

A trip to Bath wouldn’t be a trip to Bath without going through the nightmare of finding parking, and with 3 cars in need for a space, the challenge took on another level of difficulty. With players being dropped off as drivers wandered around and praying for miracles (does it sound like déjà vu yet??), Bristol got on court as soon as possible to make sure they had a team available for the start of the game. Once there, a bittersweet surprise arose as there was no trace of the club’s “favourite” referee anywhere around. Did that mean that they would, for once, have a game without controversial refs & calls?! (Ofc, it was soon proved that it wasn’t the case.)

Bath to serve first, but they had nothing on Karoline “Flawless” Drønnen’s impeccable passes, and Bristol side-outs straightaway. First set started with a strong Bristol side, as they hammered hit after hit into the opposite court, while Bath was struggling to construct a solid play and ending up shooting countless free balls over the net. The game displayed solid hitting from middles, including a headshot from Kasey Betts straight into one of Bath’s player, prompting an immediate substitution of no. 17. Second half of the set however was when the home team got a bit more confidence as Patti “Greek Goddess” Balliou and Lorena “Professor Quirrell” Bălan struggled to find the court lines when serving, with Patricia “Guys I’m Angry Now” Balliou being called out for a foot fault. However, explosive attacking from Sylvia “Spartan Fury” Betrosian and Shatha “Kuweit’s Most Dangerous” Al-Huneidi kept putting Bath’s defence in trouble, until the set ends in favour of the ladies in maroon, at 25-23, a score that was unanimously agreed upon to be “way too close”.

Determined to make another strong start like in the previous set, the ladies go on court in the same formation. Unfortunately, Bristol loses the serve from the first point and Bath rushes to a 6-1, then 8-2 lead, in the desperate shouts of Chris Sherfield about the opposition’s setter being backcourt yet jumping front court. Addressing attitude on court and more aggressive strategies in the time-out(“hammer on no. 8, for some reason they allow her in the pass!”), Bristol get back into the game with an immediate side-out and Lorena “All About Tough Love” Bălan to serve, bridging the gap from 8-2 to 8-6. Slowly the Bristolians found their feet, with Sylvia “Guys That Was So Random” Betrosian serving two aces in a row in a stunned Bath court, and as the opposition loses their two time-outs early, it’s a rather straight road to victory. Highlights of the set include an incredible, movie-like save from Patti “Free Kick” Balliou, chasing down a ball and putting it back into play via a football move, empowering the Bristolians to fight for that spectacular point until closing it in their favour, sending a strong message that they were, from then on, truly unstoppable. The attitude was uphold throughout the next points, inspiring a last-minute dive from Shatha “Should I Stay or Should I Penguin-Slide” Al-Huneidi for a ball that was a good few metres away and, with it, a few smiles from the crowd. The ball was not touched, but our hearts were (#thecheese). Amazing defence from setter Gabi “Allez Side-Out” Bégin and libero Karoline “Scandinavian Cool” Drønnen topped it all up, and second set goes to Bristol, 25-18.

After they change courts again, it’s time for Vice Captain Catherine “Ecuadooor” Wright and Mary Ashley “SMash” Keene to take the stage. Third and, fortunately, the last set, began in a “clinical” manner. Having previously agreed to make it the last set in Bath, ladies took a straightforward, “no-bullshit” approach and stuck to the game they knew best: defend, set, smash it. Gabi “Stargirl” Bégin perfectly placing a set to 4 lead to Bălan hitting it into the block’s hands, quite literally, while the player grabbed it and held it for a good few seconds before furiously throwing it away in frustration.  This time it was the home team that asked for a time-out at 1-6, especially after thundering hits from Shatha “The Kraken” Al-Huneidi started prompting reactions like “Oh Shit!!” from the opposite court.

Catherine “Ruler of the Net Realm” Wright ran from side to side, fearlessly blocking and hitting overhead passes till the point was awarded to the Bristol side. A beautiful display of dominance that is all the more powerful when it comes from someone who is the embodiment of politeness; although she did, unsurprisingly, apologize for it afterwards (“I feel I got a bit greedy there”) – guess some things never change. Abigail “This Is What Confidence Looks Like” Wooden also returns to her position, denying Bath hit after hit and making their life increasingly difficult, and consistent passing & hits from new joiner “Mash” Keene (along with her genuine cheerful celebrations after a kill) kept the spirits high.

Halfway through the set, Bristol requests a substitution for Kasey “Secret Weapon” Betts to go in as opposite. The request was met with a fantastic stubbornness from the second ref to blow the whistle, insisting that “it’s not her responsibility and it’s not necessary” and all irrational reasons that go with that. The confusion resulted in Bristol losing the point, as the first ref did not acknowledge the heated argument on the sidelines, and in captain “WHAT ARE WE EVEN PLAYING ANYMORE?!” Bălan losing her patience. Fortunately the substitution was finally allowed, just in time for her to take a chill pill (metaphorically speaking). Bristol storm to a 20-14, and as per usual that day, it is when the progress to the end of the set gets slower. Angela “Super Jump” Liu comes on court as well and gives the team an extra edge, with her powerful hits from the outside position. Three missed first serves in a row by Bristol and a few questionable calls (“Well SOMEONE touched the net there, I don’t care who.” – Chris Sherfield 2k17) make it look like it is going to be a “way too close” ending again, but they manage to bring it home with a massive roof block by “Merica” Betts and “Sandstorm” Wooden on the final point. 25-22, with an epic ending, and the ladies rejoice with their new cheer as coach Sherfield awkwardly steps away.

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Next up for the Ladies 1sts is the Trophy Quarterfinals on the 22nd of February, when they play UCL at home. It looks like it is going to be a great match-up, as both teams are currently leaders in their leagues. Come down to SEH at 3 pm to see The West vs The East battle it out on court next week!

Written by: Lorena Bălan

Cardiff Met 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 2nds (07/12/2016)

Cardiff Met 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 2nds (07/12/2016)

WE’RE BACK!!! Amazing power serving from Julie got us an early 9-0 lead and our excellent hits and tips won us the first set 25-9. GO TEAM! We had (another) way too cocky moment in the second set which we consequently lost 25-27 (oops). Beccy’s injury took her off court for the rest of the game but Chris stepped up to plate, amazing everyone with her adaptability on court. We breezed through the final two sets which some amazing serves from Thara and Emelie. Bryony’s pickups from behind the block prove that we do occasionally listen to Anna in training, Alicia’s reverse sets were beautifully accurate and Antilia aimed some scarily powerful hits at the mean (but good at vb) girl from the opposing team. Apart from a couple of hiccups (someone call for the ball!) we were clearly the dominant team and proved that we deserve our place at the top of the table #winners #internationalchampions #didn’tletitdrop #queensofthecourt

To continue the celebrations, we were presented with Christmas crackers and cheeseboards on our triumphant return to the coach. The defeated but not downtrodden men’s hockey team serenaded (read: caterwauled) us with some delightfully festive renditions of Christmas classics (Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas’ went down a treat) on the journey home. Our BUCS team now takes a holly, jolly Christmas break to rest and recuperate- a break that is both well-deserved and well needed.

Player’s MVP: Chenchen

Coach’s MVP: Chenchen (she deserved it!)

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Written by: Beccy Cartwright-Riley

Southampton 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 1sts (30/11/2016)

Southampton 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 1sts (30/11/2016)

Having been beaten by Southampton’s 1st team twice before this term- once at home and once at Student Cup in Bournemouth- Bristol Ladies 1st were hungry for a win against this season’s toughest opponents. Fingers were crossed in the hope that it would be third time lucky.

After a coach journey longer than a five-set match, Gaby Bégin picked up the drowsy mood with pumping tunes, running around the court with the speaker during warm up to keep the good vibes up. The girls were keen to enjoy the match and not let the pressure get to them.

The first set started strong and an evenly matched few points led the team ahead of Southampton. The girls kept up the lead, celebrating a win of 25-20. A few dodgy serves in the second set put Bristol one step behind Southampton, which they struggled to claw back throughout the set. The tension rose with each point. As Southampton’s defence continued to pick up the teams’ hits, several players played it smart and started pushing to the corners with Lorena Bălan using the classic ‘Lorena push’ and Kasey Betts following suit. It wasn’t quite enough and they went down fighting in the second set, 23-25.

In the third set all the pieces seemed to fit together. The girls kept reassessing the balance on court so as to avoid having gaping holes. Karoline Drønnen liberoed in and commanded the backcourt, getting the ball up again and again, and Shatha Al-Huneidi will wake up with matching bruises on each hip after two incredible James Bond dives.

Hints and snippets of advice were passed along like valuable secrets as players swapped on and off court. Sylvia Betrosian advised Catherine Wright to keep low and in the next point the serve came in low, meaning she was in exactly the right place. Teamwork like this was spread throughout the game.

A few hits that smashed through the block stood out in the match. Kasey did amazing kills at the front of the net, avoiding the aggressive block, Sylvia hit left handed and won the point and Kate Wyver hit the ball into Number 12, Southampton’s strongest at the net. Gaby’s setting was on point, as were her second touches, but Southampton put up a good show as they constantly picked up our tips and pushes behind the blocks. Nevertheless, Bristol smashed the third set. 25-13.

Two sets up and things suddenly started to go wrong. The fourth set started off badly with a lapse in confidence, giving Southampton a five-point lead. After a much needed time out, the team regained their focus and picked the play back up, but it wasn’t enough. 14-25.

The tension never let up. The team have a tendency to take it all the way up to the 5th set. It does no one’s nerves any good and Lorenzo Ciniglia nearly wore a hole in the court from his back and forth pacing.

However, you are only as strong as your bench and this afternoon our bench were pro-wrestlers. Having perfected the new Let’s Go, Let’s Go, L-E-T-S-G-O shout, voices from the bench rang around the court and hopefully burrowed into Southampton’s ears too. They may have had more supporters but we had more passion in our cheers. Voices were hoarse by the end of the match.

Onto the 5th and final set. Both teams crept up the scoreboard, with points handed out pretty evenly. Every single point carried a huge amount of responsibility. At 10-12, the team had an emotional timeout. Lorenzo ditched a pep talk in favour of 10 seconds of silence. Instinctively, as the team put their hands in to shout for Bristol, both hands layered on top. All in it together.

After the time out the team went back on court and won five points in a row on Patricia Ba’s serve. 15-12. We did it. In the history of Bristol Ladies 1st Volleyball Team, it would be tough to find a time when a final celebration hug has been longer, louder or more emotional.

Ultimately, you remember the people and the play more than you remember whether you won or lost. The nature of sport at University means that players come and go as they graduate or move on. But it also means that once you’ve been a part of that team, you’ve always got a place there. The day took on a further level of emotion as it was revealed it would be our last match coached by our brilliant leader, Lorenzo. After seasons of wins, losses, tears, laughter and many ‘bravos’, the rollercoaster ride of emotions we went through against Southampton seemed like a fitting way to sum up the past few years and say goodbye. For many on the team, volleyball comprises a huge amount of university life, and having Lorenzo at the helm has made it an incredible journey. We are desperately sad to see him go but incredibly grateful for all his time, effort and support.

Well done team, and Lorenzo, thank you for everything.

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Player of the Match: Gabi Bégin. Gabi’s setting has been solid all term but she overcame all expectations against Southampton. In the words of our coach, “She is not only reliable as a Swiss clock, but also responsive to my and players’ instructions. Calm all the way through… Indeed an outstanding performance. I was impressed!”

Written by: Kate Wyver

Ladies 2nds vs Cardiff Met 1st (09/11/2016)

Ladies 2nds vs Cardiff Met 1st (09/11/2016)

With good confidence from the last game, it was time for the ladies second team to welcome Cardiff Met 1st to the SEH. Despite the rain and grey November weather, the Ladies 2nd managed to turn up the heat by winning 3-0. With a new squad and some mixing of rotations, it was an exciting (or nerve wrecking, depends who you ask) game to watch with a “unique” touch. After we’d gotten the hang of it, we got some great sets from Alicia, some sneaky tips from Maria, good defence and hitting from the rest of the players and, which shouldn’t be surprising by now, some smashing serves from our serve-machine Julie. The more our communication improved, the better we started playing and we won the first set. Coach Anna and broken-foot Beccy could finally breathe for a moment. The second set showed more consistent play and we saw some good blocking from Maria and Nicole, as well as some really nice hitting by Daphne, Thara and Dasha. Just to make sure we turned the heat up even more, we finished with a jump-serve by Nicole. That’s how we like to get set-point after all. The third set started out a bit shaky, but after some good coaching and cheering from our wonderful supporters, it ended with an easy win. The celebrating (and eating fudge) could start!

MVP: Nicole

Emelie Forsman

Mens 1sts vs LSE 1sts Trophy Match (23/11/2016)

Mens 1sts vs LSE 1sts Trophy Match (23/11/2016)

On the 23rd November the Men’s 1sts entertained LSE 1sts at Tyndall Avenue Sports Centre. The game was the first round of the BUCS trophy, a tournament run between all teams in Division 1 that ironically has no trophy to lift at the end. But hey, who doesn’t love a good plaque?

Captain, Talisman and average height male Christopher ‘swine flu’ Sherfield had set an assembly time of 12.45 for the troops. Given his militant time keeping of years gone by, confusion reigned when Sherfield was nowhere to be seen at 12.46. With no logical explanation to this once in a lifetime event plans were quickly put in place to make the necessary bereavement calls to appropriate family members. Luckily for the team, the man himself eventually appeared, a whole 2 minutes late, causing much wailing and gnashing of teeth in indignation.

This was however not the only problem to plague the Men. With a new initiative to punish every single error at training with an array of burpees and press ups (or push ups if you’re that way inclined), players could be seen wincing and grumbling at every small movement. For those of us that aren’t constantly on that #freeleticshype or able to get away with the now patented Craig Tavares-McKoy ‘Chicken Dipper’, this new punishment regime had taken its toll.

Fighting through this immense wall of mild discomfort and minor annoyance the Men somehow warmed up and were ready to go.

Like Michael Wilsher’s talking speed, the Men began painfully slowly.  Even with Craig’s routine shank of the first serve, the Men could not get a grip on the game, going an excruciating 15-3 down. The express train to ‘unforced error City’ was boarded with great aplomb by each member of the team. You’d think 81 square metres of court would be easier to hit. To their credit, LSE blocked very well, giving the Men a new challenge that took time to adjust to. Fighting back the Men did make the set respectable at 25-18, but ultimately, like a plum tree in winter, it was fruitless.

Shellshocked from the first set, the Men knew that they had to put it behind them and get on positively with the next set.  Which they did, taking an early lead and putting much more pressure on the LSE players. With the score at 23-20 confidence was high. Perhaps too high. Definitely too high. A few costly errors and LSE took the set 25-23.

Like Fergus, hungover after a night out, the Men desperately searched for some positives in the break between sets. They knew they had to pull something out of their behinds to get ahead in the game. Listening to coach Tim ‘a double helping of Salad please’ Clifford the Men decided enough was enough. Cross blocking and targeted serving was the order. With shouts of ‘5 sets it is’, ‘all the way boys’, ‘someone get me a banana’ and ‘Craig try hitting line for once’ echoing around the hall, the men were ready. One man rose to the fore in this set. Hitting powerfully, passing like Pirlo at Euro 2012 and blocking with the efficiency of Virgin Media broadband, Paolo ‘You are all sh*t’ Abrami was having a stormer. It seemed like no man could stop him. In a move of desperation LSE avoided him completely, raining serves down on poor old Craig, leading to 3 shanked passes in a row. Seeing such a tactical move, coach Tim revealed his masterstroke. Rather than remove Craig from the court, Tim knew Paolo had to go. Subbing him off most players were initially confused, but as Bristol stormed the next 4 points it became clear that the fine line between insanity and genius had not been crossed.

Roused by the ever growing crowd, the Men fought LSE all the way, saving 2 match points along the way, including one hit from John ‘Stokesy’ House that he would definitely not have gone for as much had he known it was match point. Ballsy. With their own set point, Craig saw a ball sailing out that no one else did, winning Bristol the set.

At this point we must stop to give mention to a moment of pure gold that occurred on court. Overjoyed with the set victory, John ‘Gun hand’ House delivered a high five to Fergus ‘meaty palm’ Shaw to end all high fives. Drawing on the 5 times he’s ever actually been to the gym, John absolutely launched his hand at Fergus. The connection was perfect, the noise was ecstatic, the result was a nasty swelling and purple mark on Shaw’s palm. Worth it.

Brimming with confidence the Men smashed through the fourth set. Like a bag of spinach that’s been open for over 6 days, LSE wilted. Powered by some energy drinks delivered by Oscar ‘5 weeks and counting’ Parsley and delightful display of hitting from Craig saw Bristol take the fourth set with ease at 25-16.

Into the final set, the Men knew it was a matter of time. Michael ‘Cardiff night out?’ Wilsher went on an outrageous run of blocks, ably assisted by Chris Sherfield, who’s ability to still get a bit of his hands over the net, despite being old and small, is remarkable. Matt ‘Matt Birch’ Birch even joined the party, scoring points with the kind of horrendous enthusiasm and aggression that Bournemouth have come to so fear. Bristol ran out 15-8 winners.

So a 3-2 win was secured in typical dramatic fashion. On to the next round of the trophy.

Our thanks to the supporters and the refs. Top people.

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Man of the Match: Paolo Abrami

Written by: John House

Surrey 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 1sts Trophy Match (23/11/2016)

Surrey 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 1sts Trophy Match (23/11/2016)

The University of Surrey Sport Centre sits right in the middle of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty: rolling hills, forests of pines, colourful trees at the end of the autumn. Conscious that users, despite the beauty, would have not seen much of that really un-British thing that is a clear sky, the designers of the Centre decided to paint everything they could inside the venue – and I mean, everything – blue. Blue the walls, blue the stands, blue the posts, blue the lines, blue the shirts, blue the referees. Strong of their status of South Western stars, the Bristol players perfectly matched the celestial environment, even more given that coach Lorenzo, well known for his impeccable Italian stile, had guessed the dress code right.

It became clear from the very first minute that the Bristolian incursion would have turned to be an unwelcomed visit. Unhappy with a cold reception, the Ladies decided the best use for their first warm-up balls was to adjust their aim, by targeting the scorer’s coffee. First attempt, cappuccino gone, gauntlet thrown, time to play.

Showing an unity of purpose unseen so far in the season, the Bristol Ladies opened the first set with confidence and composure. Gabrielle ‘I know’ Bégin confirmed once again the tradition of  outstanding Canadian setters at Bristol Uni is here to stay, and distributed her assists seamlessly, helped by the solid passing of the rest of the team. Indeed the attackers’ aim was well tuned. They saw cappuccinos in every corner of the court, and hit them with ease. The Ladies cruised in the first set, standing on the shoulders of Shatha ‘Sandstorm’ Al-Huneidi, author of so many points the invisible man taking the stats for Bristol decided to give up and enjoy the show. 25-18. No sweat.

The cruise continued in the second set with little turbulence. Choral, solid pass all the way, sun shining on the Bristol side of the court. The crew decided it was time for refreshments. In the meanwhile, on court, all the repertoire of the Maroons’ attack was on show. ‘The Greek Hammer’ Sylvia Betrosian and ‘Killer Knuckles’ Patricia Ba pounded heavily from outside position, Catherine ‘Vice’ Wright and Kasey ‘Merica’ Betts left the opponents’ middle blocker wondering what she was there for, and Lorena ‘Hey, I got it under control’ Bӑlan completed the picture with her sneaky opposite shots. A concerto in heaven, also featuring Angela ‘I am here no worries’ Liu serving the way she knows. 25-18. Two sets home.

But, hey. The Surrey side was not there just to watch our stars shining in their (fake) sky. By the end of the second set rallies became longer. Surrey doubled the block more readily, and organised their defence and cover. Cappuccinos weren’t that readily available anymore. Each point became a hell of a battle, with up to four, five, six attacking attempts each side. Clouds appeared on the horizon, in the form of a noisy crowd who galvanised the hosts. A shouting bunch, quite annoying too. Captain Lorena was on the verge of climbing the stalls to punch a couple of them in the face, but the referee was categorical: “Only after the game.” Bristol’s nerves were touched… too much coffee, probably. Our passers trembled: it became more difficult to attack, many balls caught the net, many passes went off on tangents. In a break of good serving, Surrey went ten points up, too many to recover in the set, despite the amazing defending efforts of Abi ‘No Corner is Too Far’ Wooden. 25-21 for Surrey, 2-1.

Strategy first. Lorenzo ‘Coach-Pilot’ Marvulli asked the passengers for calm and devised the plan for set four. A secret plan, obviously, I am not going to tell you all the tricks of the trade! It worked, by the way. It was a tight point-to-point set that got Bristol 24-22 ahead, one point away from the comfort of the bus back home. Surrey demonstrated all its value and technical skills, attacking consistently from all positions. To cut a long story short, it was one of those sets that sticks in the mind of players and coaches for a long time. That can make you realise football is the ‘beautiful game’ until you don’t step into a volleyball match of the kind Surrey-Bristol was. That made the crowd mad, and the Bristol side even crazier when Gabrielle Bégin ‘But I Also Finish It’ decided that three touches are one too many, and her hardly-worked-on tip on second contact fell right in the middle of the opposite court, where Surrey’s shirts piled up in the attempt to cover the spot. They didn’t manage. Point-Set-Game: 25-23. Everybody home, singing ‘Sandstorm’ a cappella.

Oh, yes, Surrey. They were left with the blues.      

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MVP: Shatha Al-Huneidi. Solid attacking, solid defending, solid singing.

Hope you enjoyed the flight,
Your ‘Always’ Coach Pilot          

Mens 2nds BDVA Tournament (19/11/2016)

Mens 2nds BDVA Tournament (19/11/2016)

Saturday 19th November 2016 at 12:06pm we embarked on our journey to Orchard School along with our team mascot of the day, Dom’s suitcase.

Our first opponents were Mr Pennifold’s Cheddar Cheese VC. With some pep talk from Chris, we went into the game with gusto, aiming to show to Rob what we were capable of. The first set did not get off to the best of starts, with an atrocious attempt of a serve from Mr Shean Bovornsukul. The game was long and arduous but the team whole-heartedly fought back, with some good hits and the unforgettable block by Raphael to deny Rob, his moment to impress a particular someone! Nevertheless, our efforts could not prevent us from being defeated in both sets, 25-15 and 25-5 respectively.

The second game was against Bath 2nd, a team who we had the utmost confidence to beat and secure a rare BDVA win. With the combination of impressive hits and poor defending from the other team, we started to build a good lead. Then up stepped Wilf. His serving form on fire, he singlehandedly won 8 points however for some reason he seemed to be mentally in pain. Regardless of this, the first set ended on a high with us winning 25-14.

With that impressive performance, the “half time” talk was a quiet one. With an awkward “Shall we..?” we placed our hands together before setting off to rightfully claim our win. The second set was much more heavily contested. With some silly errors, Bath were able to cling onto us but with our burning hearts of desire, we saw through to the end of the set to win 25-23.

The team showed many improvements throughout the afternoon with Raphael being awarded as our MOTM. After some words of encouragements from the experienced veterans of Cheddar VC, thus started the long journey back home.

Written by: Dom Minton

Team Bristol vs Team Southampton & Cardiff Celts (05/11/2016)

Team Bristol vs Team Southampton & Cardiff Celts (05/11/2016)

Remember remember, the 5th of November… When the Ladies 1sts traveled yet again to the Welsh country to face Team Southampton and Cardiff Celts in another NVL fixture. With our two drivers buckling up for another fun-filled roadtrip, and after a quick pit-stop for Karoline ‘I Need Coffee’ Dronnen to get her fix, we arrive at the venue just in time to watch our competition before going on court.

First match, against Team Southampton, started off pretty shaky. And I mean fairly tragic, losing the first set 25-8 (maybe due to short warmup, maybe the small numbers, but either way we would rather not talk about that set). Second set was more balanced, yet it still meant a fairly comfortable win for Southampton, until the last few points when Bristol picked up some speed. As new strategies were put in place, with Shatha ‘Blocking Queen’ Al-Huneidi going back to middle and Abigail ‘I Can Play Wherever’ Wooden taking her spot as outside, as well as middles blocking line in 2 so that the setter can cover tips, the opposition had no idea how to react, as they see their star-hitter having trouble finalizing her favourite winning shot. The two teams keep a steady pace until Southampton gets a 6-point lead, moment where a time-out is called on the Bristol side. What you could see afterwards was nothing short of inspiring: a perfectly coordinated team, vocal at every point and confident in every pass. Also, a dodgy call from the ref regarding some double-touch / blocking confusion, until Lorena ‘I Would Fight With a Ref For A Living’ Balan turned it around.

With so much power, it comes as no surprise when Bristol wins the third set. The momentum was kept throughout the 4th set, with Karoline ‘I’ll Keep Eating A Banana, It Seems To Help’ Dronnen completely recovering from her dizziness, setting perfectly to 3, where Al-Huneidi and Wright were there to smash it every single time. Great covering and smart hits from 4 thanks to Alissa ‘Malaysian Superpower’ Ambrose and Abigail ‘Coach On Call’ Wooden, and especially fantastic passes from the back line by Catherine ‘I Am Not Stressed, Why Are You Looking At Me?!’ Wright, helped Bristol reach the deciding set. However, the Southampton team managed to gather all their resources and get in the lead, and despite an anger-fuelled power-ball from 2 from Balan and valiant team effort, Bristol loses 16-10. We did get to see some fiery arguments between the ref and the opposition, culminating in yellow card, then red card for rude conduct, which was highly entertaining.

On to the next one, Cardiff Celts. Feeling slightly discouraged that the win didn’t materialize in the previous match, the ladies lacked the enthusiasm that would have put them in the lead, and hence losing the first two sets. Motivated by the very narrow loss in the previous set (26-24), Bristol ups their game and wins the next one at a comfortable difference. Do you see a pattern now? Unfortunately they were not able to replicate the previous match, losing in the fourth and final set.

Playing 9 sets in a row took a toll on all players, but especially on the drivers who also had to go behind the wheel for another hour. Or more, if your name is Abigail ‘I Know Where I’m Going’ Wooden, who went ahead to explore the Welsh country even further, heading to Swansea before realizing it might not be the right direction. I’d blame it on the loud sing-along competition with the Spanish referee, Nacho, who I hear made the trip so worthwhile!

It’s worth noting that the incredible chemistry on court during the first match sparked a reaction in the audience as well, with ‘our fan’ making himself known by a direct phone call to the captain’s mobile number two days later. #yesitisascreepyasitsounds

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Players of the Match: Shatha Al-Huneidi & Catherine Wright. When these ladies turned on their sass, they were absolutely unstoppable, whether they were serving, defending, or hitting!

Written by: Lorena Bălan

Bath 1sts vs Bristol Mens 1sts (02/11/2016)

Bath 1sts vs Bristol Mens 1sts (02/11/2016)

 

The workhorse of the Mens 1sts team, a.k.a John’s car, decided she would be unable to offer her services this Wednesday so for four of us the journey to the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the City of Bath started at Temple Meads.

After a brisk transit and prolonged warm-up, due to the difficulties the Bath side experienced with setting up the net, the team started set one in what I can only say was poor form. From shanked passes to inconsistent serves, we certainly didn’t start in the way we wanted to carry on. After finding our feet midway through the set we decided to step on the accelerator but the bhp simply wasn’t enough and concluded the set on a 25-19 defeat.

With much discontent within the team we were determined to tackle the next set in a manner befitting a true Bristol side; exemplary courage, strength and sporting prowess. We started well, but we all knew in our hearts that it simply wasn’t good enough; little did we know of the spectacle about to unfold. It has become known as the rally of all rallies, and has become a Facebook phenomenon thanks to the services of part-time professional cameraman Mr John “Say cheese!” House. This was our turning point and from this moment on the team demonstrated unprecedented levels of tekkers. If only FIVB Street: the video game was a thing.

The men had an absolute stormer in the third set and then continued to display great aplomb in the subsequent fourth and final set.

Special mentions to Mr Paolo “Super Mario” Abrami who made what I can only describe as a remarkable debut, and to Mr John “F**k’n C’mon!!” House for stepping in as setter in our time of need.

A sterling job.

Cheers all the best,

Craig

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Player of the Match: Paolo Abrami

Written by: Craig Tavares-McKoy

Ladies 2nds BDVA tournament (22/10/16)

Ladies 2nds BDVA tournament (22/10/16)

It was Saturday morning, only a couple of weeks into the season and despite a series of cancellations we had managed to get a squad of 7 girls going. The day started out confusingly with captain Maria waking up only 20 min before meeting time due to a default alarm and our brilliant new setter Megan stuck in Stoke Bishop. Somehow we all made it to Wellsway in time to go through rotations with both Bryony and Julie playing a new position. Ready to take on TipTop in the first game we started our warm up.

Despite some okay volleyball played from all sides; Bryony getting the opposite rotation, Megan and Alicia delivering some great sets, Beccy shouting encouragements from the side line (the set included a small rotation break down from Antilia) it wasn’t enough to beat the winner of the league last year and we had to let the game go 25-11, 25-8.

Reflecting on our first game we took a well deserved break while reffing the TipTop vs. Bath game that similarly came to a 2-0 close for TipTop. Coach Beccy provided cookies (the highlight of our day).

Time for our 2nd game. We threw ourselves head first into the battle for honour against Bath 1sts. We were off to a good start with every player showing off some great technique individually and it was a close battle all the way to the end of first set. Antilia fired some great hits at the floor, Samantha delivered some great tips and Julie some smashing serves. 1st set went to Bath in the last minutes with a close 25-20. 2nd set we started out strongly and forced Bath to call a time-out at 7-2. Despite the fact that we definitely could have won the game with Maria and Bryony’s strong front court determination and Megan’s great sets, we gave it away due to some untimely blocking, confused rotations and Bath’s killer serves.

Defeated, but surprisingly happy, we left Wellsway and journeyed back to Bristol through the most beautiful sunset munching on cookies. A great way to end the day.

MVP: Megan de Jode

Written by: Julie Andersen

Gloucestershire 2nds vs Bristol Ladies 2nds (26/10/2016)

Gloucestershire 2nds vs Bristol Ladies 2nds (26/10/2016)

On Wednesday, the 26th of October, seven ladies of the 2nd team as well as their lovely coach Anna made their way to the incredibly dull city of Gloucestershire, in order to play against the town’s University Ladies 2nd team. Why would anyone choose to study there remains a mystery to me, as there seem to be absolutely nothing in this town except for an infinite number of residential houses and miles and miles of green grass. You might be wondering: why start a match report by a description of the city? Well, my friends, it is because by now every single one of us knows Gloucestershire like the back of their hands. Indeed, the first challenge of the day didn’t involve receiving hard serves or hitting inside the court (yes, this is usually a challenge for us, what can I say we’re just too powerful): our first challenge was finding the damn sports center. We first arrived at Gloucestershire sports park after a 30min walk, only to find that we had looked up the wrong Google Maps address. The place we were looking for was actually a 40mins walk away. And remember, we’re in Gloucestershire: they barely have running water and electricity in here so don’t get your hopes up for an Uber or a taxi. So spirits up, sweaters around our waists and running shoes tied tight, the eight of us started wandering the streets of Gloucestershire again.

After what felt like an eternity, we finally arrived at the promised land: Gloucestershire’s sports center (and not sports park, Maria). Just enough time to put on these extremely tight team shirts, fill our water bottles and practice hitting for a bit, and before you know it the game has started. Despite our opponents’ impressive starting positions (they squat like there is no tomorrow, truly an inspiration to us all) as well as their number 24’s really good serves, we quickly realise that the biggest challenge we have to overcome is not standing on the other side of the net. Our biggest challenge was *insert dramatic music* ourselves. The sport’s center enduring echo reduced the communication on court to ashes, which resulted into a lot of bumping into each other between Julie and Antilia. Add to this a combination of us struggling with our passing and a little confusion about the rotations, and the result is not surprising… Simply put: we could have done much better in these first few points. After Anna called a time out which I’m pretty sure lasted way more than the allowed 30 seconds, the team slowly pulled itself up. Thanks to some sneaky tipping from our setter Megan, great hits from Maria, Thara and Beccy and a series of beyond this world serves from Julie, we won the first set with a dozen points in advance. Second and third sets were also a success, despite communication with our coach approximating sign language. Passing improved substantially, covering was much better and we saw some solid play from everyone, though again, it clearly wasn’t our best volleyball. The game should also be remembered for our shouting, which was, as the youth says, *on point*. Final score was a beautiful 3-0, and the team left the sports center with a 2003 « mission accomplished » kind of feeling:  we probably could have handled this much better, but hey, we won!

However, the team love story with Gloucestershire is not quite finished yet: we will all be back next week to play against the University’s first team. Will we remain undefeated? To be continued….

Player of the Match:

Written by:

Bath 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 1sts (26/10/2016)

Bath 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 1sts (26/10/2016)

The start of the Ladies 1sts third BUCS match didn’t go exactly to plan.

As the team were arriving in a variation of wheeled vehicles, arrival times to Bath were scattered liked shanked balls across the city. Though everyone had left plenty of time, lost Tshirts, lack of parking spaces and unexpected venues meant everything was a little bit rushed, and there was a fearful moment when they thought they might have to start without all the players. Thankfully even the ladies from Langford arrived just in the nick of time, and the team were ready to get their game faces on. The cheers were ready, the kneepads were up, this game was theirs.

That was, until they realised just how annoying buzzers from a basketball court could be.

The sports centre at Bath University is top of the range, inviting ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ like a fireworks display every time the team play there. Unfortunately this time, they seemed extremely keen to show off the very loud buzzers installed for the other tall-people sport. It wasn’t the most pleasing noise as every time one of the ladies went up to hit from Gaby ‘Angelic Hands’ Bégin’s sets, either a buzzer or a piercing whistle from the court opposite seemed to go off, making them think the ref had stopped play. They tried to keep focus and Abi ‘Net Touch’ Wooden seemed to borrow Kasey ‘If I Slapped You It Would Leave A Mark For Days’ Betts’ wrist for the set as her middle hits flicked round the block. The team wavered a little, thrown off by the rushed start, minimalised warm up time and ridiculously loud noises. They managed to claw it back towards the end of the first set, but the recovery wasn’t enough. First set: 23-25.

Determined to make a change in the second set, the girls got off to a much more secure start. There were some ref calls the team weren’t happy about, but they just about managed to move on with grace and thankfully there were no yellow cards in sight. The team’s serve receive was far stronger this set, and Sylvia ‘It’s BUCS So It’s Okay To Wear Grey Shorts Right?’ Betrosian fought her way backcourt as one of Bath’s team had a seriously strong serve. Nothing she couldn’t handle. Patty ‘Flying Fox’ Balliou’s hits repeatedly avoided Bath’s defenders and Catherine ‘Did You See That Dog?!’ Wright flew through the opposition’s block in the middle, leading Bristol to victory in the second set, 25-17.

Not wanting to let Bath claw it back, the ladies continued on the winning streak and won the third set 25-21. Bath just couldn’t deal with Gaby ‘Epitome of Elegance’ Bégin’s serves and she had a beautiful run which gave the rest of the team a rest. Kate ‘Where Am I Meant To Be?’ Wyver also had a run of serves, doing a little celebratory dance after serving into the corner of Bath’s court when even she thought it was going out.

The team didn’t want to give Bath a fifth set but the fourth got off to a rocky start. Shatha ‘You Don’t Want To Get On The Wrong Side Of Me In A Fight’ Al-Huneidi’s hits began to be blocked by Bath, but she was having none of it, and came back with fighting spirit to push it past their reach. Wenna ‘Cornish Smasher’ Grigg jump served her way to victory and Kasey ‘American Idol’ Betts, Lorena ‘Romanian Fury’ Bălan, Patty ‘Fireball’ Ba and Sylvia ‘Lorenzo Please Libero Me Off’ Betrosian took it in turns to smash the ball round the block. Bath just couldn’t deal.

Despite the fact that the ladies’ play had gotten stronger throughout the game, it was still too close for comfort, and Coach Lorenzo ‘AyAyAy’ Marvulli was told off by the line judge for his nervous pacing blocking the view. The basketball game across the court had finished by this point and the players turned round to support their home team, but it only spurred Bristol on further, and they just made it. Fourth set: 25-21.

Relieved after a rather stressful match from start to end, the team could finally celebrate. The game meant all four of Bristol Volleyball Club’s teams had won that afternoon, with the first set against Bath being the only set dropped by the entire club. Good work, team. After the journeys back with Lorenzo’s Motown music blaring the whole way, the ladies headed off into the night for a dino-mite evening at Score.

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Player of the Match: Kate ‘The Tower’ Wyver. Kate was too modest to say anything, but her presence on court was a great help to the ladies’ journey to victory. Smoothly adjusting to her new position as opposite, she made it clear that it’s the right place for her to be: perfectly timed blocks, powerful shots from 2 and a beyond-solid defence. But most importanly, some phenomenal serving that left Bath praying for one to go out or into the net, as they failed to return several of them in a row.
Special mention to Patricia ‘Keep The Ball In Play’ Balliou, for an incredible penguin slide and an amazing pancake in the game, demonstrating, one more time, that the rally is not over till she says it’s over.

Written by: Kate Wyver

Team Bristol Ladies vs Wessex 2 & Cardiff Falcons (23/10/2016)

Team Bristol Ladies vs Wessex 2 & Cardiff Falcons (23/10/2016)

23rd of October marked the first home NVL game for the ladies of Team Bristol, in a triangular fixture facing Wessex 2 and Cardiff Falcons.

DISCLAIMER: Apologies for the delay and for a style of writing for which the descriptor ‘chaotic’ is an understatement.

First game was against Wessex 2, and it ran in a similar fashion to its away counterpart. Clean hits, great blocks, good covering, opposition didn’t stand a chance. Matter of fact, second ref was so bedazzled by the way Bristol played, that she mistakingly blew the whistle for no apparent reason, only to correct herself a minute later and asking to repeat the point. Some may blame it on old age. Some are mean people. Great pipes from Abigail ‘This Girl Is On Fiiireeee’ Wooden, solid defending of the back line from vice-captain Catherine ‘Extremely English’ Wright and clever play from Alissa ‘Cheeky Tips’ Ambrose gave the Bristolians the lead they were aiming for, which gave them enough confidence to try new things. Including a quick back set to Wooden who, despite a terrified “WOAAAA”, still successfully scored a point. Last set saw an incredible effort from Patty ‘The Floor Is Your Friend’ Balliou to save a ball, but the pancake was eaten by the confusion created on court and it was too late for her team-mates to realize the ball might have still been in play. Final set also counted 8 serves in a row by Lorena ‘Exhale of Doom’ Balan, in the usual preceding eery silence, where even the scorers were afraid of dropping a single pen. Game ends 3-0 for the ladies in maroon.

Second game was against a team with questionable name choice but really solid players, Cardiff Falcons (I told you). The first set would prove to be extremely close, with both teams winning the serve every other point, and staying close until the second technical time-out at 16-15. However, the energy slightly dissipated and Falcons win the first set, despite Sylvia ‘Tornado’ Betrosian’s refound hunger to smash some hits from 4. Second set saw a bigger lead forming in favour of the Cardiff team, despite great efforts from Karoline ‘Setter On Call’ Dronnen to give the ladies a chance to hit back. Third set was a similar story to the first one, at least until halfway through, when tiredness took over and Bristol made a few mistakes in a row. Highlights of the match include an interesting double block from Abigail ‘Queen of the Court’ Wooden (#DoubleDedication) deciding to use both her hands and her head to complete the defence (point of course won by the home team). Not only that but she thought any other player would be able to mirror her determination, sending one of the passes straight into Balan’s face later on. You can definitely say she gave a whole new meaning to the song lyrics “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you…”. Not sure how much I liked it though? She made it up though with great advice to tip behind the block, strategy which paid off a couple of times. Unfortunately, it was not enough to get back into the game, as the opposition’s middle player consistently hammered quick balls into the floor, no matter the rotation, and Bristol loses 3-0 (25-17, 25-16, 25-17).

Special thanks to the Men 1sts who helped with scoring and line-judging, you guys are awesome.

Player of the Match(es): Abigail ‘The Asset’ Wooden, without a shadow of a doubt. Next time you all play ‘Queen of the Court’, you should aspire to be like Abi, as I’m sure the whole game idea & name were inspired by this player, who gave it her all and more and she rocked every single set. Watching her play on Sunday was nothing but a thing of beauty, we can only hope we get to see more of it!

Written by: Lorena Bălan

Ladies 1sts BDVA Tournament (22/10/2016)

Ladies 1sts BDVA Tournament (22/10/2016)

The cloudy early morning of 22nd of October found 9 of the Ladies 1sts “enjoying” the cold and “enthusiastically” waiting around the fountains for the bus to their first BDVA fixture of the season. The atmosphere was lightened up by the vice captain’s impeccable navigation skills on the mean streets of Bedminster, along with the captain’s fascination with Natalie Jennings accent, sparking an entire Downton Abbey-themed day(“Natalie, whenever I want to describe you to my friends, I say: I have never seen Downton Abbey, but that is how I imagine the characters speak.” – Bălan, 2k16). Having arrived at the venue, aka ‘Polar Wonderland’, excitement levels, but also nervousness, rose.

First match, against City of Bristol, started off a bit wobbly, with Bristol taking the traditional first 10 minutes of a game to find their feet. Really, we like keeping our audience on edge. The confusion about time-outs probably didn’t help either. However, we get to see some great blocks from Saskia ‘ROOF’ Webster in the middle and passes from opposite Saskia ‘I Don’t Know Why I Have a Dutch Name’ Wallis. Yes, we have 2 Saskias in the team: what were the chances?! Unfortunately, it was not enough to get back into the set, losing it by over a 15-point difference. Second set saw an improvement in terms of team coordination, yet it could not match the opposing team’s experience of playing together for a long time. Despite perfect passes and sets from opposite Annabelle ‘Blue Eyes’ McCombe and outside Natalie ‘Cheeky Line Hits’ Jennings putting up a good fight on court, the time-out catches Bristol behind their rivals. With the captain encouraging the ladies to ‘make noise like they’re winning the f****ing set’ despite a 10-point gap, the team sees a spike in sassiness on court and the loud Bristolians are back in business. Sadly, this time it did not scare people off quite as fast as needed, so they lose the second set, with final score 25-9, 25-7.

Second game, against BVC 4th team, was more leveled. With Sas ‘Just Sas’ Wallis moving to outside and McCombe staying opposite, the team was unstoppable. Moreover, Angela ‘Power House’ Liu hitting some incredibly strong attacks from 4, as well as Annita ‘Italian Sasssss’ Papa getting some very clever variation between tips and hits (and her almost-scary enthusiasm during play), had the other side of the court trembling with fear. As a result, first set goes down 25-17 for the ladies in maroon. Couple of reasonable serves in a row from Lorena ‘Failed Attempt at Being a Motivational Speaker’ Bălan and Io ‘Ela!’ Vournas-Kaffes coming on court with solid passes in second set gave the ladies a comfortable lead, which they kept til the very end of the match, at 25-18. Celebratory froyo was in order, with two happy captains getting very excited about what the future holds for this team.

Great team dynamics overall, with everyone covering the entire court and calling for every ball.  With such great potential and such a great turnaround from first game to the second, we are looking at some big things coming from this squad in the upcoming fixtures!

Player of the Match: Sas Wallis, for great play not only as opposite, but also as outside, quickly and easily adapting to the different rotations and smashing some great balls along the line. Don’t be fooled by her height, this pint-sized Australian, like everything else in her home-country, is a real danger!

Written by: Lorena Bălan

Gloucestershire 1sts vs Mens 2nds (19/10/2016)

Gloucestershire 1sts vs Mens 2nds (19/10/2016)

On Wednesday the 19th of October (2016) the we played our first BUCS game against the University of Gloucestershire in Gloucester. Eight of the total 12 players departed from Bristol Temple Meads Station at 10:30 heading to Cheltenham Spa, whilst the remaining four and Coach Chris left by car. Once we arrived at Cheltenham Spa we walked for 30 minutes to the sports complex at which we played, where Coach Chris and the rest of the team joined up. Once we were all ready to play and warming up a few issues arose with the quality of the game we were about to play. The net provided was of a very poor quality (wasn’t tightened properly) and had no antennae, to which we opted to lodge a formal BUCS Protest. Further problems before the match included us forgetting to take volleyballs with us from Bristol so we had to borrow a few from the University of Gloucestershire. We then proceeded to complete our warm up and prepare for the game.

In the first set, despite playing well, we were stuck in a rotation for several points due to a challenging float serve from the opposite team, accumulating a 7-point deficit. After we managed to get out of the rotation, we started playing better and brought the game back to a 1-point deficit, but we never truly managed to get a full grip of the set as we were always trailing the opposition. We lost the set 25-19, which is actually a good result, as it was a relatively close set and we played very well in terms of passing and trying to get as many hits in as possible. The service was also on point with only one missed serve in total in the first set.

The 2nd set was a lot tougher. Small mistakes led to the opposition gaining many easy points. To respond to this, Coach Chris made a few substitutions, which helped bring more control to the game. The team played very well trying to get to every ball and seizing as many opportunities, but the small mistakes that occurred from time to time disrupted the flow of the game, ultimately leading to a 25-14 set loss.

The third set was by far the most eventful set. We started the set really well, getting a lot of kills through the middle and outside hitters and playing smarter and more efficiently. We were leading the set, but a few set of small mistakes allowed the University of Gloucestershire to first trail, and then surpass us in terms of score, and despite the deficit in points increasing, we persevered and maintained our composure trying to win the set with a “the set is not over until a team has 25 points” mentality, which worked really well. However, due to poor organising, the court was only booked for one hour and 45 minutes, meaning the game had to be abandoned early with the score being 21-17 for the University of Gloucestershire. This created a bit of tension but it eventually led to the University of Bristol winning because the University of Gloucestershire chose to forfeit.

It must also be said the quality of the referees and venue were disappointing for the amount of effort we put in to attend this BUCS game. The referees had little control over the game and paid no attention to net touches or block touches, there were no line referees, and due to the lack of antennae, there were some questionable calls made in considering whether a ball was hit outside the legal lines. Overall, despite coming away with a win, it is easy to say that both teams were disappointed with the overall game as it was very poorly organised and controlled.

Player of the Match: Chan Sheng

Written by: Luuk Borsma

Mens 2nds BDVA Tournament (15/10/2016)

Mens 2nds BDVA Tournament (15/10/2016)

On a rare non rainy Bristol day, the brand new men’s 2nd team start off their new volleyball season with two BDVA matches at Bedminster.

With the hangover from Embargos last night still lingering, the squad leaves from the coach station. Oddly, many team members (old and new alike) chose to have a wonderful defecation as the pre match routine, resulting in a queue at the toilet in the (fragrant) changing room.

First game was against City of Bristol. The time for warm ups was very brief, therefore the starting six of the team were immediately thrown onto court, confused as if they were still in the club since last night, begins the game with only the vaguest idea about rotations. The beginning was a bit rough, with our team mostly being the passive side. However, after a bit of adjustments, the team picked up the pace and started to score some points, with a few rather impressive hits by Shean and Luuk, and even a rare block by the Brazilian sensation, Felipe. Nevertheless, these were not enough to prevent a 8–25 loss of the first set.

After switching sides, the game continues with our team showing some great overall progress. However, casualties were sustained when Chan ‘The Conquerer of Brazil’ elbowed Felipe in the face due to height problems during a hustle play. The aftermath was rather bloody therefore the substitute setter Ben stepped in as replacement. Confusion about the rotations occurred, thus a timeout was called to sort it out. But that was not enough to prevent us being defeated 9–25 in the second set.

The second was against Cardiff Wildcats, a team of equal competence as the first. Learning from the first game’s loss, we quickly seized the initiative and racked up some quick points, forcing our opponent to call a timeout. The momentum switched after the time out, we were then no longer holding the scores tight. And Cardiff sprinted to a 25–14 victory.

The second set ended with the same score. But we managed to put up some good lengthy rallies, although we didn’t manage to win those, shame. Bold experiments of some new tactics were also attempted, notably, Ralph and Shiraz successfully developed a combo shot. Some good team chemistry is certainly developing!

Despite two clean losses, the new team however showed some great improvements throughout the morning. A very promising beginning for the new season.

Written by: Dom Minton

Ladies 2nds vs USW Ladies 1sts (12/10/2016)

Ladies 2nds vs USW Ladies 1sts (12/10/2016)

It was October 11th, one day before our first BUCS match and only our third training with the new Ladies’ seconds. We had done some great team-bonding during our first team social the Wednesday before (with some unfortunate injuries, but we’ll get to that later) and we were all excited to see the new talent who had joined our team. It was all fun and games until we realised that our first BUCS match would actually be in 24 hours. Despite the great new and old talent, we didn’t feel prepared at all. The fact that USW kept changing the time of the match didn’t help much either. In our enthusiasm of having a home match, we had made a Facebook event to try to get everyone to come support, but now we actually didn’t really want our friends to show up. This might all sound very pessimistic, but it wasn’t that we didn’t believe in our own abilities and capabilities, it was just the fact that hadn’t had more than 4 hours of playing together as a team. However, Ladies’ second wouldn’t be Ladies’ second if we didn’t decide to keep our heads up, have fun and arrive at sports hall very early to go through rotations (we contemplated coming at 7am, but decided 1 hours would be sufficient).

Unsure what was going to happen once we entered the court, Beccy, Antillia, Maria MP, Emelie, Alicia, Zoe, Julie, Thara, Megan, Bryony, Marina and Maria K., decided that the least we could do was be loud. And loud we were.

What happened when we started playing we don’t know. We started out playing quite alright and communication was good. Slowly, we started to realise that we could do this. As if we had been playing together for years, we played as a team, talked, yelled and slowly started scoring more and more points. Was USW just really bad? No, not at all. The better we started playing, the less we looked at each other with slight confusement and amazement and the more we started having fun not because we made ourselves, but because we were having genuine –kids on a bouncy castle kinda- fun. After we overcame Julie and Maria’s overexcited, way too powerful hits that went way out, there was nothing that consistently went wrong. Zoe –formally known as double touch Zoe – Holt did some very solid setting, and so did Megan when she gave setting with our team a go for the first time. Solid play by Beccy, Antillia and Maria K who’ve already been playing with the Ladies’ seconds for a year. For Julie and Thara we could see how much progress that had made since one year ago. Starting in the third team last year and playing with us for part of the year, they delivered some amazing hits and serves. Julie even managed to score four aces in a row. We were also very proud of our new players who did a great job at playing their first BUCS game. It all looks very promising.

After having won with a ten point difference, we decided to make the third set slightly more interesting, Giving eight points away in a row, the score got to 24-25 for USW. Was it our overexcitement, Beccy who fell over several times because she had insisted on playing despite a ankle injury (“but pres were so fun) or Thara who, after having played very well for two sets, suddenly had forgotten what the word rotations even means. Nah, we just wanted to make it all a bit more interesting for the over twenty people that were supporting us. Victory was ours with 25-27.

Words cannot express how proud we were and are. Proud of our returning players, even more proud of our new players and also very proud and happy about our new coach Anna. We can’t wait to see what this Volleyball will bring.

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MVP coach pick: Julie Worsøe Andersen
MVP team pick: Julie Worsøe Andersen

Written by: Maria Klønhammer

Cardiff Ladies 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 1sts (12/10/2016)

Cardiff Ladies 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 1sts (12/10/2016)

12th of October marked the start of the Ladies 1sts BUCS season, and with it a brilliantly new and exciting journey. After getting empowered by the Ladies 2nds clear dominance in their home game, the girls left the sports centre to catch the coach to Cardiff and make the most of the positive energy they accumulated.

Having arrived at the venue for a 5 pm start, the ladies were welcomed with some not-so-great news that the tight court booking might mean that the match might be decided by who is in the lead at 6.55, fact which did not sit well with coach Lorenzo ‘Do I Have Any Other Choice?!’ Marvulli. Nonetheless, ladies take the court at 5.30 pm with one mission and one mission only: win.

Trying out a new strategy, we see Karoline ‘Libero Is Home’ Drønnen return to the position that made her famous, but this time going in and passing from the opposite’s spot, instead of outsides or middles. The first set debuts with two very leveled teams, with every point being disputed and the lead/serve alternating from one side of the court to the other. Good setting from the cool and composed Gabrielle ‘Montreal Wonder’ Bégin, paired with strong hits from Kate ‘Smash It’ Wyver and Shatha ‘Australian Twang’ Al-Huneidi gave Bristol a slight advantage. Not only that, but also a perfect roof-block from Catherine ‘Happiest Volleyballer You’ll Meet’ Wright gave the ladies an extra boost of confidence. However, it was not enough to keep away a Cardiff team that was determined to save every ball, and a referee that seemed to have firmly decided to ignore carries (cheers bruv). Under the pressure of time and personal ambition to win in straight sets, ‘Headless Chicken’ Bălan appeared to have adopted a interesting style of play which matched the previously mentioned nickname, in the last few points before Cardiff won 25-19.

After a short intervention from captain Lorena ‘Romanian Sass’ Bălan with the referee on the subject of absent line judges and missed foot faults, second set began with Kasey ‘Fearless Middle’ Betts and Sylvia ‘Now in Black Shorts’ Betrosian on court, ready to avenge the team. This set saw a much more coordinated team, as Gabrielle ‘Cheeky Pipe Set’ Bégin served ace after ace and impeccably orchestrated hit after hit after hit coming in from 4, 3, 2 and 6, which put Cardiff into trouble on numerous occasions, with Bălan and Sylvia ‘Power Shot’ Betrosian managing to get a few kills. Special mention to the incredibly smart play exhibited by Patricia ‘Greek Goddess’ Balliou, variating her shots in placement and power in order to catch Cardiff on the wrong foot time and time again, as well as Kasey ‘No Block Can Stop Me’ Betts who, thanks to her typical magical flick of wrists, hit the ball around the block, digging it into the ground close to the 3m line. Lorena ‘I’m Not a Motherly Figure’ Bălan serves for the set at 24-22 and quickly closes it as the opposition fails to return the ball into play.

Third set kept its momentum, with the ladies being now well into the game and playing their best volleyball, as Patricia ‘OOOPAAAA’ Balliou relentlessly went for every ball that was in the same 3 metres squared as her, and Shatha ‘Kuweiti Thunderstorm’ Al-Huneidi raising fear levels as she raised in the air from the back of the court to hit pipes. We also now see another new addition to the team come in on court, Wenna ‘I Don’t Know Why I Have a Cornish Name’ Grigg, hitting some exceptional spikes from 4. Karoline ‘I Got This’ Drønnen had absolutely no problem adjusting to the new libero-ing position, getting perfect passes to the setter every chance she had. The referee blows the whistle and it’s 25 – 17 to Bristol.

Time’s up and Cardiff are forced to forfeit the fourth set, 25-0. Although the ladies felt like their momentum was cut short, we all know that the result would have been the same, as Bristol take home a 3-1 victory. Many thanks to Abigail ‘This Is What Is Gonna Happen’ Wooden for handling the awkward situation so professionally as head of the club.

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Next Wednesday the team is ready to take on Southampton at home, feeling extra motivated by the promise of Wenna ‘I Have Never Been To Cornwall’ Grigg to do the worm after every ace. Believe me, it will not be one to miss!

Player of the Match: Patricia ‘Literally Good At Everything’ Balliou, for her relentlessness and her consistency in hitting so cleverly, taking the opposition by surprise, while also reliably and accurately passing from back court. With such a strong, well-rounded player, the opposing team will have another thing coming!

Written by: Lorena Bălan

Wessex 2 vs Team Bristol Ladies

Wessex 2 vs Team Bristol Ladies

On the 25th of September, the Ladies 1sts tackled a challenge of their own. No, it was not the upcoming start of term, but the first NVL match in the history of the UoB Volleyball Club. No pressure?

Therefore, a dream team of 6 courageous souls ventured out to Bournemouth, with no subs, no coach, and no fear.. sort of. Before the warm-up, new captain Bălan decided to try out something new and have the girls choose one personal target for the match, and have everyone not only work on their own goal, but also help out others reach theirs throughout the game. Because here, at the Volleyball Club, we make wishes come true. With warm-up done, fines escaped via Lorena ‘Smooth-Talker’ Bălan and her somewhat useful ability to bullshit her way out of trouble (I think Sylvia and everyone else knows to wear black shorts now), and rotation sorted, the match was ready to start, with Team Bristol on the receiving side.

The ladies quickly won the serve and the show was on. Smart, yet powerful hits through 4 from Sylvia ‘Gray Shorts’ Betrosian, strong cross-court hits and line pushes from 2 by Lorena ‘Signature Move’ Bălan, as well as perfect sets from Karoline ‘Fun-sized Setter’ Dronnen gave Bristol a comfortable lead, getting to the first technical time-out at 8-4 and a 100% focus on the game. Impeccable covering behind the block from Alissa ‘Always There’ Ambrose and on the 9m line from Abi ‘Libero Who Out?!’ Wooden, as well as thundering pipes from Shatha ‘The Force’ Al-Huneidi ensured a smooth journey towards the end of the set, when our lovely setter recreated a moment that has become iconic to Rob ‘Sweaty Betty’ Pennifold, with the ball slipping through her hands when trying a quick back set for the middle. A moment that has brought smiles to all faces on court, including the first and second referees, and shall not be forgotten soon. Nevertheless, Team Bristol secures the first set at 25-14 and, needless to say, everyone was ecstatic.

Second set started with Shatha ‘The Thunder’ Al-Huneidi serving and immediately put us in the lead. The ladies kept up the momentum from the first set, with the Wessex 2 team calling the first non-technical timeout of the match at 12-2 for Bristol. Communication on court maintained its great levels throughout the set, with strong, unreturnable serves courtesy of Al-Huneidi, Dronnen and Betrosian, and consistent passes from all team members, until they reached the end at 25-10.

Third set saw a very slightly more nervous beginning of the set, but after the first technical time-out, the ladies found their inner peace and slowed it down appropriately. As the Wessex 2 team grew more nervous, tipping behind the block, the Bristol ladies were always there waiting for the opportunity to put the ball back in play, with Alissa ‘The Saviour’ Ambrose and Sylvia ‘Gray Shorts’ Betrosian saving every point. Final set didn’t leave the opponents a chance to get a 2-digit score, ending at 25-9.

Needless to say, a fantastic start of the new season and their brand new NVL careers, we can only hope the trend will last for as long as possible!

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Player of the Match: Shatha Al-Huneidi without a shadow of a doubt, for her smashing serves, consistent accurate passes and incredibly powerful pipes. You could feel fear levels rising on the other end of the court as she was jumping (still way above the net) to hit from 6, leaving the Wessex team with no options to return.

Written by: Lorena Bălan (yes, I’m still pedantic as ever with the ă)

Ladies 1sts vs Swansea Ladies 1sts (10/02/2016)

Ladies 1sts vs Swansea Ladies 1sts (10/02/2016)

On an eventful Wednesday afternoon the ladies 1st team made their way to tyndall avenue to battle for their top spot in the league against their fierce welsh neighbour, Swansea Having seen the mens 1st team make a brilliant win against Bournemouth, and thus winning the league, the pressure was on the ladies to repeat the mens success. After a short delay (not as big of a delay as last week’s public transport train wreck, fortunately), the ladies were warmed up and ready to take on Swansea.

Bristol kicked off the match with a wonderful receive (again, due to the captain being rubbish at coin tosses), but quickly Bristol gained the serve. The serve fest continued from last week’s UWE match with Shatha “Queen of serves” Al-Huneidi showing Swansea that her gentle nature is all a cover. Glad she is on our team. Along with our Kuwaiti superstar, Abi “team medic” Wooden took the court showing than she is a lifesaver on court as off court, saving a lot of the fun sized captains flailing attempts at middle sets. Linny “sprawled on the floor” Levesque proved her libero skills again useful, and the powerful duo that is Kate “Theatre is my life” Wyver and Jalayna “The maple syrup to our pancakes” Sepezi hit the ball like their lives depended on it. Halfway through we had Leanne “Newcomer” Scott come in for Kate, and gave Swansea a schooling in volleyball hitting 101. As some of the serves went straight to the setter, Lorena “cheeky diagonal hits” Bălan saved the day by setting the ball long and high for the outsides to finish the kill. This meant game over for Swansea in the first set as Bristol took the set at 25-16. Total knockout.

Starting with the same line-up, the 2nd set was looking up with Shatha “Never ending serve streak” Al-Huneidi continuing her success which kept going until Swansea finally woke up to stop it. Even with Bristol’s great attempts at hitting the ball hard, Swansea had a tall block that kept the ball coming back on Bristol’s side, causing sprawling and despair. After a quick time out from coach “Future dad” Lorenzo, due to the players stressing out, this calmed them down a bit. However, Bristol brought back bruised memories of their diving lesson, and showed that looking like sliding penguins helped getting the ball back up, and turned the game in their favour. Some great blocks were seen at the front of the net from the Bristol giants (you know who you are), and after a bit of confusion Bristol got their act together, and showed Swansea who the stronger team was. Bristol confidently won the set at 25-19.

In the last and final set Bristol received the ball yet again, but it didn’t take long before they claimed the ball back. We saw Catherine “Awww” Wright come in, where she blocked and hit the ball with the speed of an African wild cat, along with great effort from her partner in volleyballcrime Anna “Blash” Linton. Getting my volleyball jargon on. Special mention to the block towards the end of the set, and may the ball rest in peace. No mailbox there on Anna’s part. Kate “Insert Shakespearian quote here” Wyver after some great hits were swapped in for Canadian superstar Jalayna “Mickey” Sepezi continuting from Kate’s slam success. Diagonally to the outside we had Leanne doing her thing, scoring points for Bristol faster than you can say California, and Lorena keeping up her opposite job. In order to secure the victory coach dad swapped in Shatha for Anna, making Swansea tremble in fear and left them sprawled on the floor frantically trying to get the ball that went flying past them. The captain also had her serving streak at the end, and she was determined to keep it that way, taking deep breaths and practicing meditation in the process. Showing off her best praying mantis stance, Bristol won the match at 25-14, and kept their winning status with another 3-0 win.

Special thanks to the the guys reffing and scoring, especially Chris “Captain” Sherfields crooked time out hand sign, due to a diving go pro injury caused by Rob “Jumpset” Pennifold after their own match. Rob went on to completely ignore said injury, convinced that Chris failed to see who caused it. We know it was you Rob, we have it on tape. Sneaky.

No picture will be included this time, as the players had a surprise gift for coach Lorenzo by the end, causing him to literally jump of joy. Let’s just say that Leonardo is all set for his future volleyball career. Thank you to Abi and Catherine for organizing it, and Kate for making the card.  It was muchly appreciated ☺

Next week Bristol is going on a road trip to defend their honour in the trophy match against Kent. No matter what, Bristol will do their best, and we will return home victorious. YAAAS! On to the next one!

Player of the Match: Kate the Great for her hard-hitting serves and hits, and for generally being a nice tall person.

Written by: Karoline Dronnen

Gloucestershire Ladies 2nds vs Bristol Ladies 2nds

Gloucestershire Ladies 2nds vs Bristol Ladies 2nds

After a long stint of home matches it was time to hit the road again and head to Gloucester, with two new additions to the BUCS squad: Danielle ‘smash queen’ Mathieson and Lizzie ‘aced-it’ Peattie. Excited and ready to go, we hopped onto our coach accompanied by the men’s 2nd team.  A few of Tim’s team talks later and one very bored ‘doesn’t do long journeys’ Beccy, we arrived at our destination.

We were up first, and thanks to the fabulous amp Gloucester had our warm up was half dancing/half volleyball – perfect for getting everyone pumped and ready to play! We started off the game confidently, everyone in the right place at the right time, making a well-oiled volleyball machine right from the first whistle. We were all reminded of how incredible Dasha’s super-powered-smashing-it-always over-arm serve is as she continued to pummel the other team, the ball flying off in all directions as Gloucester struggled to get the first pass in. Much neat (for the most part) three-touch volleyball ensued, with some nice reverse sets from captain Zoë and some all-round good volleyball. Our new star fresh from the US proved to be an invaluable addition to the team, hitting strongly and confidently over the net like there was no tomorrow! With a score of 17-10 it was time to bring in our second “newbie” Lizzie, who despite not having played in BUCS before made a very promising start, acing her first serve. Bristol took the first set 25-19 full of energy and excitement for the rest of the game.

The second set provided us with an even greater win than the first, with Millie coming on court strong and producing some lovely sets. Recently transitioned into the position of libero, Gaby ‘squatsalot’ Cropper’s talent shone with perfectly aimed passes one after the other, allowing Bristol to tear ahead. Not forgetting of course the wonderful hits from Milly and Hattie our wonderful middles as they were given the chance to exercise their hits, tips and dumps from the strong leading position we had taken. Unfortunately the support for Gloucester was growing, although more in the form of cringe worthy jokes and jibes in attempt to put us off our game – but it would have taken more than that to shake us and the rest of the set was smooth-sailing. We glided on through to win the set 25-10.

It was time for the final set (or at least we very much hoped so!). We came on court strong, taking the opportunity to practice some new techniques and plays; some of which were successful, some less so – we are still determined to master and perfectly execute a short ball through the middle in-game! Despite our confidence in our ability to win the match, our serving proved to be…interesting… ranging from the precision and power from our secret weapons Dasha and Danielle, to some slightly less consistent balls from the rest of us (sorry ladies, we all knew it!). We still had great fun, and Beccy’s little clap before each serve never failed to produce smiles from all of us. It’s like a little high-five to herself before the beautiful serve. Watch it, it’s brilliant. Although this held us back a little, we continued with our great gameplay, raking in the points when the Double D’s stepped up to serve (Dasha and Danielle that is!) and proceeded to dig, set and spike our way to victory. With the final winning set of 25-21, we had our second in a row 3-0 triumph.

We take on top of the league team Bath in a cup game next week – what will no doubt be an exciting match. Fingers crossed for another victory to add to our belts!
Coach’s MVP: Danielle Mathieson

Player’s MVP: Danielle Mathieson

(She really played brilliantly!)

Written by: Zoe Holt

UWE 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 1sts

UWE 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 1sts

In early February the ladies 1st team made the daunting trip to UWE frenchay campus to battle their rivalling university, UWE. Well, it was daunting mainly because it is so far out. However, this one was a must win, as all the other teams had won all their matches 3-0 that same day. The pressure was on the ladies to bring home a win, and not to lose any sets. From this point on each of them counts in order to reach their ultimate goal of winning the league. With Cheryl “soft hands” Nordal gone Bristol needed to get back into the swing of things with newcomer setter Karoline “Praying Mantis” Dronnen (extra points for you if you get that one), kicking it off with a bit off a rocky journey.

After having recovered from the heart attack-inducing 2nd team mens game the ladies prepared for take-off to go to UWE. Being Bristol public transport, super reliable and all that, the ladies waited no shorter than 50 minutes for the bus. A short journey in some people’s eyes, but an excruciating wait for the already stressed out captain. Linny “sweet dreams” Levesque however had quite the comfortable journey, in which she had a quick snooze on the bus. Nothing wrong with getting ready and charged up for the match (Yes, we have pictures to prove it, however if Catherine or me could figure out twitter this news would have been out much sooner).

A quick warmup later, the ladies were ready to take on UWE. With the mens team watching (sleeping) in the corner, Bristol was off to a great start. Using the 1st receive to its full potential, Bristol quickly won the ball back, and managed to start their never ending serves. A slight change to the line-up was made with newcomer opposite Catherine “Scrubs” Wright, powering her way through the first set, showing that she belongs on court. Along with the normal line up of power middles such as Kuwaiti superstar Shatha “talk to the hand” Al-Huneidi and jumping star Anna “Slamdunk” Linton, Bristol managed to get by even with their setter setting the ball too far from the net, and too low (Captain’s working on that). Jalayna “move bitch, get out the way” Szepesi showed that she still is a force to be reckoned with, and Sylvia “Actually got there before everyone else” Betrosian hammered the ball to the ground showing UWE this is what to expect when Varsity comes around. Bristol took the set confidently at 25-13, proving that we still got it!

In the 2nd set Bristol still ruled the court with their serving, and switched out Jalayna “move your feet, Karoline” Szepesi for Kate “drama queen” Wyver. With her hardhitting swing, UWE never saw the ball coming, with her hits as sharp as her pen when writing a play. Lorena “I hit line and you can’t stop me” Bălan came back in as opposite and took over where newcomer Catherine left off. We also saw Sarah “Langford for life” Ghys come in and prove her worth on the team with some hits that confused UWE to the max. With UWEs non-existing block the confusion grew greater and nothing could get through Bristol’s defence with the ball being picked up by the recharged libero. Nothing could stop Linny from getting that ball. The hard-hitting middle duo of Shatha and Anna kept the team alive, and slammed the ball, and blocked it, like there was no tomorrow. Bristol kept serving in what seemed like forever, however the shock was big when the ball actually came back on their side. Even still, Bristol took the set at 25-11.

In the last set it seemed like UWE had completely given up, and the ball barely made it back to Bristol’s side. Jalayna “one mickey” Szepesi coming in as opposite this time showed that she’s like a potato and can be used for everything volleyball related, killing that ball like her life depended on it. Catherine “puppy-lover” Wright being back on as middle were back in her element and being in her zone no one could stop her game. Having the quicks work with the power middle duo that is Shatha “trust me I’m a vet” Al-Huneidi and Catherine “trust me I’m a vet nurse” Wright greatly pleased the funsized captain turned setter! Some swaps were made with Kate going in for Sarah and shortly after Lorena for Sylvia. Playing around with all the other positions, coach Lorenzo thought: why not the outsides? Bristol concluded the set at 25-11, winning the match 3-0.

Not deviating from the winning streak that Bristol volleyball made that day, this one will go down in history as the Wednesday where all four teams won 3-0. The occasion was celebrated as such. That day we showed UWE that there is a reason why we are at the top of the league, and that we are here to stay! Thank you to coach Lorenzo for guiding us through everything, and special thank you to player of the match Lorena “Romanian volleyballstar” Balan! It’s great to have you back with us ☺

Next up is Swansea home game which will be a spectacle to behold, and is a fatal game for Bristol that is a must win. Having heard that Cardiff lost to Exeter that same day, Bristol got even more fired up to bring home the gold. Bring it on Exeter!

However being unable to let it go, on the BUCS website it says that UWE won 3-0 over Bristol. Quite a cheeky move on UWEs part, but that is not going to stop Bristol. On to the next one!

Karoline “YAAAS” Captain out.

Bristol vs UWE

Player of the Match: Lorena Bălan

Written by: Karoline Drønnen

Ladies 2nds vs Cardiff Met 1sts (03/02/2016)

Ladies 2nds vs Cardiff Met 1sts (03/02/2016)

This was our first match since before Christmas, as we warmed up we soon realised our fitness was at all time low, but luckily our eagerness was higher than ever. We’d previously met Cardiff 1st in their sports hall with unbelievably low ceilings. I mean ridiculously low. So low that I blame them for us losing that match. However we were on home ground this time, with the highest ceilings you could hope for without being outside.

We had a new coach in the form of Abi Wooden, we trusted her instantly as she had this cool notebook especially for Volleyball, anyone that prepared was obviously going to be fantastic. It even had a hand drawn volleyball on it. We won the toss and up to serve first was Dasha the Demon, as it sailed beautifully over the net we got our game faces on. Myself and Hattie were told to watch the tall, very tanned hitter. She must have been to Bali or something because her tan was so good, actually made me miss Essex a little bit! Despite trying our best blocking skills, she still managed to get passed us. Luckily Libero Gaby always had the teams back with some awesome passing. Monica ran around like a headless chicken – perhaps a little more graceful – setting the front court up for some wonderful hits. Although slightly tense in some parts we held the lead throughout and won the first set 20-25.

A quick team talk and advice from Abi not to let the win go to our heads spurred us on but helped us keep cool, winning this match 3-0. I was particularly happy with the thought of winning 3-0 as I had to walk the dog and also wanted to go shopping.  The set started out well with us winning the first 2 points. Hereafter it all became a bit tense as Cardiff caught us off guard with their serving and managed to take the lead. I’ve kind of blocked out the bit where we were losing but with some fantastic hitting from Camellia and consistent serving all round we took back the lead. Having been told to block more closely to my teammates, I managed to tread on Zoe’s feet preventing her from running to get the second ball subsequently losing us a point. Not my fineness moment but Zoe was totes fine about it. Mariam managed to seal us the win with the best serving I’ve seen to date #don’t****itup. The final score being 25-22.

This time Captain Zoe gave us a pep talk, she wanted us to put the sassy Cardiff lot back in their box. To be fair their sass was a bit excessive and honestly quite annoying. The start of this game looked promising with Cardiff calling a timeout to try and put us off. It obviously didn’t work. The Men’s 2nds buzzer however did put us off, it kept going off at the worst moments. It was just so loud! Next time I think we should have the buzzer, just saying. Despite Monica’s run in with the curtain and Becky and Camilla having the most dramatic clash, we sailed through the rest of the match winning 25-12.

A fantastic first match back, now time to continue this for the rest of term. We face Gloucester next week… here’s hoping they’ve got high ceilings!

Coach’s MVPMonika Dryzmala
Player’s MVPMilly Roper

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Written by: Milly Roper

Mens 2nds vs Cardiff Met 1sts (03/02/2016)

Mens 2nds vs Cardiff Met 1sts (03/02/2016)

The Men’s 2nd Team’s first BUCS game of 2016 was anticipated with many mixed feelings. Would they build on an overall successful first term of Volleyball or were they still suffering from their festive hangover? Would they do the double over the Cardiff Met 1st’s or would they crumble like they had done so many times before against worse opposition. The sports hall seemed like it was filled to the rafters with club members and spectators, anticipating an entertaining afternoon of volleyball. And they were sure not disappointed.

Coached by the wonderful Karoline Drønnen, the 2nds allowed their opposition no time to settle and raced to a 22-9 lead in the first set with some hard hitting by Simos ‘Simios’ Koutsoftides, Ralph Bernardo, Rob Evans and Marcus Clifford. Cardiff Met picked up some momentum and after a very characteristic, slightly nervous and panicky finish to the set, the 2nd’s closed the set out to 25-14.

Cardiff Met’s momentum continued into the second set, and the 2nd’s panic escalated. Timeout was called at 8-13 down. With Karoline reminding them what they had done so well in the first set and just to settle back down, they slowly clawed their way back into the set. The 2nd’s sharp passing and hard hitting returned, and so did Cardiff Met’s passing errors. At 19-19, it was anyone’s set. After some long rallies, the 2nd’s held their nerve to see out a 25-23 victory.

Once again, the 2nd’s found themselves behind for much of the third set, and as tiredness kicked in, the set was littered with sloppy passes and long rallies. At 19-23, Cardiff Met seemed to have the set won, but with some high pressure serving and some exhausting rallies, the 2nds managed to scrape back to 24-23. By this point, UOB Women’s 2nd Team had won their match which only added to the pressure on every serve and made every rally yet more nail-biting. Rallies brought the crowd to silence, and every point was won to raucous celebration from the respective bench. With every point exchanged, the tension grew ever more palpable. Rallies dragged on with both camps guilty of often celebrating too soon. Finally, with Rob Evans holding his nerve excellently, the set and the match was seen out with the score 27-25 to achieve their first 3-0 victory of the season.

The 2nds showed a maturity and steel that has developed over the course of the season. It concluded a very successful day for UOB Volleyball Club, and may this be the first of many in 2016.

Player of the Match: Ralph Bernardo

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Written by: Dom Minton

Mens 2nds BDVA Tournament (04/12/2015)

Mens 2nds BDVA Tournament (04/12/2015)

 

For our first B&DVA fixture of December, Bristol Mens 2nds were travelling to Bedminster Down School for an early match against Cheddar and BEMI. After meeting for the 75 bus at half 8 the whole team rendezvoused at the school, ready to take on today’s challenge in the infamously cold sports hall. Targeting a win today Bristol went into their first game against Cheddar with high hopes.

Bristol played what was believed to be a revolutionary new line up for the club featuring team captain Felipe as an outside instead of his usual role as libero. Bristol had a slow start trying as we settled into the game with a few simple error on serves, passing and calls. But before too long we finally settled into our 4-2 formation and with good setting from Chan and Florian, and hitting from everyone Bristol put up a good fight for the first set that was narrowly contested until Cheddar finally broke away and stole the set.

After a switching of sides and a team talk from coach Tim, Bristol got back into a rhythm for the second set. We put up a good fight for the set as we fell into formation and picked up on some of the sloppy errors of the previous set. But our work rate was not reflect in the harsh score line but Cheddar’s changes were too much for us and with some good volleyball and great hitting on their behalf the set was lost, adding to the 2nds losses in B&DVA as we still search for that elusive win.

Bristol had time to reflect on this defeat as we took a break to ref Cheddar vs BEMI ending in a 2 X 0 win for Cheddar in a strongly contested match. After another thorough warm-up it was game on as Bristol faced off against our coach Tim’s team, BEMI.

The first set showed similar signs of nervousness and unfamiliarity that haunted us in our first set against Cheddar. Although after some merciful on court guidance by Tim, Bristol slowly picked up some of the pieces but still went on to lose the set at a disrespectful score of 9 – 25. Although this may not have reflected our late turn around we concluded to forget about this and start fresh.

Set two was not going to be lost without a fight. This was instantly recognised as an eager Bristol team brought some of “our best volleyball yet” to the court. This score was contested a lot closer than the previous with some superb hits from all and high energy as not a single ball was left without chase from Bristol. In the middle of the set both team duelled it out in an incredible rally to which both team should be proud for and which we admirably lost. In the end the experience of the BEMI players was enough to trump the 2nds and resulted 18 – 25 loss of the set that the team should be proud of.

Player of the Match: Chan Sheng for some excellent hitting, setting and energy in his game; well earned.

Written by: Lewis Caiger

Mens 2nds vs Swansea 1sts (02/12/2015)

Mens 2nds vs Swansea 1sts (02/12/2015)

Wednesday the 2nd of December was due to host two exciting games. Unfortunately, the women’s second team’s game was postponed to a later date as there was nobody available to referee. This left the men’s 2nd team to play Swansea’s 1st team.

With lots of time to warm up, both teams were eyeing each other up. It was decided that this was a team which we were capable of beating. A strong side, but unable to throw anything at us, which we could not handle. Unfortunately, nerves got the better of the team, losing the first few points and forcing an early time out. Despite of loud encouragement from the bench and even louder from the women’s team who were showing strong support for their comrades, too many loose balls were landing on Bristol’s side of the court, too many serves hit the back of the net and too few hits were resulting in points. The set was lost convincingly and Coach Tim was not impressed.

The second set involved moments of improvement, but they remained just moments, before sloppy mistakes let us down again. This set looked like it was going the same way as the last until the last minute. Mike Avery’s serving game was strong, and with help from the other players secured one point. And then another. And another. In total, 7 precious points that gave us strength to keep going. Things were looking up for Bristol. It was unlikely that we could win the 8 points in a row needed to win the set, which become a huge pressure on the next player to serve. Nevertheless, there was hope, and even more hope for the game. However, unfortunately not for the 2nd set, which ended in a service on the net.

The momentum gained wasn’t enough, again there were points which went well but it wasn’t enough and the third set was the final set. A disappointing performance, against a team we were looking to beat. In the past, holding our own against bigger hits, fancier sets and more monstrous blockers.

Player of the Match: Michael Avery

Written by: Angus Bangs

Ladies 1sts vs Imperial College London 1sts – Conference Cup (25/11/2015)

Ladies 1sts vs Imperial College London 1sts – Conference Cup (25/11/2015)

Once upon a time, on the 25th of November, the Ladies 1st team travelled down to familiar Tyndall Avenue to play what will now be remembered as: “The greatest game ever played at Tyndall Avenue!” A bold statement yes, but little did the Ladies know (and everyone watching) that this would be the longest and most challenging fight they would ever have to endure. A game that will go down in volleyball history for centuries to come, and a level of volleyball unseen to the sports centre before. What a game! It was also yours truly’s birthday and what a way to spend it. As most of this game was a blur, I will try to retell it as accurately as my memory will allow it:

I can only describe this game as a suspenseful thriller where you are dying to know the ending. However the ending of this game being far off in the distant future, the 1st set started with a wonderful receive from our new libero and star Linny “Angel That Fell From The Sky” Levesque that gave Bristol the serve. Off to serve went the setter of the day Karoline “Where Is Cheryl??” Dronnen, and Bristol started the match and properly showed Imperial London what they were made off. In usual form Jalayna “Let’s Do This!” Sepezi and Shatha “Beast Serve” Al-Huneidi served as gods and Imperial realized they were up against a good team. With great volleyball from all the players, especially killer blocks from Anna “Nothing Gets Past Me” Linton, Bristol confidently won the 1st set 25-19.

Bristol being chuffed after the 1st set, the 2nd one would prove to be more of a challenge as Imperial London fought back. As the 2nd set started to unfold, Jasmine “You Go Girl” Zhang and Catherine “The Gentle Giant” Wright made their presence known on court. Getting well into her opposite position, Jasmine killed the backsets she got, and made the setter know that she was ready to kill it. However even with Catherine’s quicks and blocks and with Jalayna’s zoomy floatserves Bristol was not strong enough in this set, and Imperial London took the set at 25-16.
But Bristol never stops there and Kate “The Great” Wyver kept the team alive with her wonderful serving in the 3rd set. Keeping the score close all the way to a certain point Imperial saw their chance and took it. Still needing to wake up from the defeat of the 2nd set  Bristol got a giant slap in the face in the form of the frustrating score of 26-24. Another loss, but at that moment Bristol decided: 5 sets it is then!

We like to make things as exciting as we can, and making sets as long as possible is an everyday occurrence for us. As the opening sentence implies this was where things started to get intense, and the tension in the air could be cut with a knife! Making a few subs between Kate and Sylvia “On A Different Planet” Betrosian, they both showed that they were a force to be reckoned with both in serving and hard-hitting spikes. However, to everyone’s dismay, our own Catherine “I’m Fine” Wright sustained an injury where her fingers took a beating from blocking the opposition. Abi “Team Medic” Wooden gave the coach a scrutinizing look after specifically ordering that she was not to play anymore, as Lorenzo put Catherine back on saying the words: we need to win! Point by point the tension rose, and none of the teams were ready to give up the title as the victor of the 4th set. The entire game was at stake for Bristol and with that thought in their heads, and the desperate pleas of Coach Lorenzo for everyone to calm down during time out, the ladies chased the 2 point difference and kept on fighting. However trying to stay calm in a situation like this is like telling someone to calm down if they had their leg chopped off… As the points went by, the ladies started getting more and more tired and unexperienced setter captain tried to keep her head cool (btw impossible) as Bristol took point by point for their own. The men’s team playing away at Warwick followed the game nervously, as they were getting steady updates from the sports centre of doom, awaiting the result of the never-ending set. Finally, at the unbelievable score of 33-31 Bristol claimed that they were queens of the court, and took the 4th set like champions.

In the final and brutal finale of the greatest game of all time, this fairy tale got its happy ending. But not without its hardships. For this set Bristol’s goal was to get to 8 first, as that was the first hurdle to victory. After 8 points was gained the survival of the fittest started to play out on court! As the previous set was fierce Bristol could not imagine that it would get any more difficult. Oh how wrong they were… Coming back on court, the injured Catherine played like a giant in front of the net, along with our Kuwaiti force Shatha; however, the girls had never been this tired, and the game kept going on for what seemed like forever. The breathing got heavier and the atmosphere was tense, but when the going gets tough the tough gets going! After hindering the opposition to take the game point by point, our wonderful Cheryl “Soft hands” Nordal walked in, causing almost everyone to burst into tears. With the renewed faith in that they could do this and the backing up from Captain of the court Jalayna, the Bristol team saved 7 match points, and the teams kept going steady point by point. Until it all stopped. Everything went quiet for a second. As the ladies had stopped looking at the score a long time ago, they all prayed it would be over. However as they glanced over at the score it said 22-20 to Bristol. As they realized everyone cheered as they never had before, as the entire team ran into a circle of victory. Hugs and screaming galore, the 1st team was victorious and the applause from the spectators grew louder not being aware of what just hit them. After this, everyone were on the verge of tears, and yours truly actually started crying when her flatmates made her a volleyball cake. That was too much for one day, and the most intense game ever!

As the greatest game ever to go down in the volleyball history of Tyndall Avenue, and almost giving our coach a heart attack, thank you to everyone on the team who fought their hardest ever, and thanks for bearing with me, as this was the captain’s first game as a full-time setter. And what a game to start it with! This will stand in the Hall of Fame, where all the great athletes go, and as the song goes: You can be the greatest, you can be the best. And we were!

Player of the Match: goes to the wonderful captain of the court Jalayna “Fierce” Sepezi for keeping us going (including myself) when everyone wanted to give up. Point by point! Thanks girl ☺

Captain Karoline “YAAAAAS” Dronnen out. Xx

Ladies 2nds vs Bournemouth 2nds – Conference Cup (25/11/2015)

Ladies 2nds vs Bournemouth 2nds – Conference Cup (25/11/2015)

On the 25th of November, the Ladies 2nds hosted their very first Cup match, facing Bournemouth 2nds. After a bit of a meltdown last week, the team was determined to put aside its tiny hiccup against Bath.

We began the set confidently, with a couple of changes to the conventional set up of the team, with Beccy “Watch the Line” Cartwright-Riley stepping in for opposite and Angela “High 5” Liu standing as outside. Despite the slight uncertainty of 5-1 rotations, the game progressed smoothly with some luscious sets from Zoe “Oatcake” Holt, finished off with some killer hits by Camellia “Swinging from the Chan-delier”  and Angela “Nightclub Virgin” Liu. Serves were particularly on point, special mention to Milly “Dalmatian Bruises” Roper, who began the match doubting her over-arm serve and scored two consecutive aces. The ladies wrapped up the set quickly, producing some textbook volleyball and concluded the set 25-13. Feeling optimistic after the first set win the ladies entered the second set with high hopes, and proceeded with some excellent volleyball to take the second set 25-20.

The third set got to us, as we started losing stamina over the game. Fatigue, miscommunication, a hint of over-confidence? The 2nds got stuck in a serving rut as n°9, the fisting fury, powered through with her flat diagonal serves. A few scrappy moves and an ambitious back-court hit from Beccy “Clap Serve” Cartwright-Riley meant the 2nds lost their track slightly. A few points down, the gap was too wide to recover and the set ended on 25-21 for Bournemouth Uni.

Not to worry! With Coach Tim’s wise words, full bench of support and a delirious crowd, the cheers were on the Bristol side as they took on the 4th set. Having won the first two sets and narrowly lost the second, the team was determined not to let the last one slip away. Consistent serving from Camellia and Angela put the team at an advantage, whilst Beccy and Hattie – the intimidation wall – flawlessly kept to their blocking duties. The match could not conclude without a couple of Beccy’s iconic facial interceptions with the ball, bringing great entertainment to the game, calming the nerves of the Bristol squad! What seemed like a fairly tangible win for Bristol, became a problematic affair as both sides stood their ground towards the end of the set. With a tight score creeping all the way up to 24-25, the tension reached its pinnacle as the ladies let their match point slip. Thankfully, the team kept a strong mental game and put an end to the match 27-25, securing our greatest win of the season so far!

Players’ MVP: Camellia Chan
Coach’s MVP: Zoe Holt

Written by: Gaby Cropper

Ladies 2nds BDVA Tournament (28/11/2015)

Ladies 2nds BDVA Tournament (28/11/2015)

It was a bleak English Saturday when the Bristol Ladies 2nd team made the journey to Wellsway school. Fortunately the meet-up time was 10:20am at the Bristol Bus Station, so everyone had a longer hangover recovery period than normal. However, it seemed that Angela ‘Better Late Than Never’ Liu, needed it the most; she woke up at 10am after a botched alarm clock setting, yet still made it to the station by 10:23am. That was one of the many magical moments of this glorious day.
The team was led by Maria ‘the Intimidator’ Klønhammer who had been to Wellsway the previous week. Unfortunately while walking there she became distracted with talk about Secret Santa and led her comrades down the wrong path for around 27 seconds. Nevertheless she quickly recovered and led the team to victory (up a hill steeper than Park street) and we arrived at Wellsway on time.
Excitement was brewing as warm-ups began. In fact, there was so much excitement that the team did not know which direction to jog and where to go. Feet were stepped on, friendships broken, and loyalties questioned. However, through Maria ‘Follow Me’ Klønhammer’s quick thinking the team settled into a solid back-and-forth jog cycle on one side of a court.
Let the games begin!
The first set began and Taunton, the opposing team, served first. The serves came hard and fast but Maria ‘Kickin’ it’ Guerro-Farías did her best to send them flying high and proud.  Caitlin ‘the Flash’ Ross would then swiftly set and Angela ‘the Hulk’ Liu would strike with a vengeance and startle the other team with her unassuming strength. Even though the Ladies 2nd was still a bit uncertain about positions and where exactly to move, they mostly ended up at the right spots and played as seamlessly as they could. Despite this phenomenal play it would seem the odds were not in the Ladies 2nd‘s favor and they lost the first set to Taunton.
In the second set we were not at all disheartened. Cheers were loud and camaraderie celebrated for every point won and for every point lost. It baffled the other team but fired up the Ladies 2nd. Morgane ‘the Extravagant’ Singh proudly cried ‘MOOORGAN’ before pushing balls deep into enemy territory with her powerful sets. María ‘Knock ‘em Dead’ Guerro-Farías didn’t hold back as she spiked the ball and overpowered whoever was unfortunate enough to receive the hit. Charlie ‘and The Chocolate Factory’ Edge flawlessly set even the most difficult to receive passes, which were successfully picked up by Maria ‘Spike First, Ask Questions Later’ Klønhammer. However, despite the strong play, the 2nd team was unable to secure the win.
This did not discourage the team but instead emboldened them to bring their A-game for the next game against TipTop.
After some beautiful serves from Charlie ‘Say what?’ Edge the team was off to a good start. Charlie’s passion was clear and indomitable as she yelled ‘Help!’ even when the ball was far out of reach or against the back wall of the gym. Overall there was even greater improvement in movement; and if someone forgot where to move they immediately recognized their error, which highlights the improved understanding of the game and appropriate gameplay. Tolu ‘Smack ‘em’ Alegbeleye was able to receive some impressive serves and pass them to Caitlin ‘the Incredible’ Ross who flawlessly set them for Angela ‘the Thing’ Liu to hit. However, due to Tolu’s eagerness and the viciousness of the serves from the opposing team, Tolu unintentionally sacrificed herself on two occasions and took balls directly to the face that actually bounced upwards, but unfortunately were too far away to pass. She has now vowed to improve her volleyface digging for future games.
When Xing Xing ‘Criminal Minds’ Chen played the front positions, despite her unassumingly cute and small stature, she successfully cleared the net and blocked some hard hits from the opposing team. The game was crazy fun with all members cheering and laughing as the match went on. On Tiptopp’s team? Radio silence. This just goes to show how amazing the Ladies 2nd team is at having fun. At the end of the day it seemed that little things won points for the opposing team and the Ladies 2nd once again lost. Despite the losses the Ladies 2nd team grew closer and chattered amongst themselves with excitement, mentioning the various ways they saw improvements in themselves and their teammates and how through greater, more focused practices they could see even greater refinement in their playing. So onwards they charge!
Player of the Match: Angela ‘Are We Even Surprised Anymore?’ Liu.
Written by: Tolulope Alegbeleye

Bristol Mens 1sts at Student Cup Qualifiers 2015 (28/11/2015)

Bristol Mens 1sts at Student Cup Qualifiers 2015 (28/11/2015)

On the 28th of November 10 intrepid male Volleyballers took part in Student Cup qualifiers 2015 in Bournemouth. The day was long, games were tiring, food was varied, toilets were scarce, phones were without charge and as ever, lasting friendships were made.
Deciding to not be as careful as the Ladies 1sts, the Men decided to meet at 5.45am, leaving them an hour window within which to get lost/break down, rather than the two hours the Ladies afforded themselves. Then again, such a decision seems logical to anyone who watched Abi Wooden come astonishingly close to causing some serious damage to a McDonalds, despite only travelling at about 2mph.
As with any meeting time scheduled before 12pm, Fergus Henry Shaw was not present, having once again slept through his alarm. Perhaps something other than Radio 2 would be better as a wake up call Fergus. With Christopher ‘sass’ Sherfield demonstrating the kind of sympathy he has become synonymous with, he promptly left the job of getting Fergus to the other driver John ‘The Motivator’ House as he set off for Bournemouth without delay.
A quick phone call later that contained just the right level of threatening annoyance in the tone of voice and Fergus was picked up outside of his house, albeit barefoot and rapidly stuffing a bag full of clothes.
When a journey is scheduled for 5.45am in the morning one would feel safe assuming that it would not be eventful. In the case of Gertrude the ever reliable Volkswagen Golf this was untrue. Spurred on by a playlist so adventurous it had its own Scouts badge, the men of the hearty Golf had arguably the time of their lives. Whether it was discovering that team romancer Aidan McKay’s understanding of a simile or metaphor was horribly off kilter or the unnerve that comes with finding out that Craig ‘Ariana Grande’ Tavares-McKoy cant physically sleep in a moving vehicle and instead just closes his eyes and listens sneakily to all that is said, the men had a cracking time. Perhaps the greatest moment however was to come when Robert ‘New levels of sweat’ Pennifold phoned the Golf to suggest they stop and meet up with Sherfields car at a service station. To say there was glee in John ‘Lets go round Bath not through it’ House’s voice when he announced the Golf had already passed that service station and was thus ahead of the much better car being driven by Sherfield would be a massive understatement.
Arriving at Bournemouth the Men immediately bumped into the bleary eyed ladies team at the local M&S Garage, a choice of location that was rebuked fiercely by the thrifty duo of Shaw and Wilsher who refused to indulge in the high prices of the M&S Simply Good range and instead chose to walk down to the local Lidl where they were to buy some pretty foul tasting baked goods and a pot of pasta that would come back to haunt Shaw. But more on that later.
The Men were placed in a pool with Kent, Exeter 2nds, Oxford 1sts and Bournemouth 2nds. However Exeter decided that they would be some sneaky bananas and put their first team in as their second team, thus meaning that the Men faced an essential pool of death with 2 Premier level sides and 2 First division sides. But were they fazed? Were they heck.
Up first were the relative minnows of Kent. Starting with about as much enthusiasm as one of those self checkout assistants at Sainsburys the Men nonetheless opened up a lead over their opponents through some half hearted spiking from Captain Chris who looked about as cheerful as I did when I received a Furby for my 6th Birthday and it scared me so much I cried, (probably too much info there).  After taking the first set comfortably John ‘Life Coach’ House embarked on his first inspiring speech of the day. Imploring the troops to push harder and up the intensity as after all ‘you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’, Bristol came out for the second set with slightly more enthusiasm. NB Enthusiasm was still relatively low. However, with Kent not offering much in terms of resistance to the float serves of Pennifold, House, Wilsher and Sherfield it soon became a formality as Bristol walked away with the 2-0 victory.
As the Men sat down to watch Oxford take on Exeter their enthusiasm soon picked up. Witnessing what was a very good game of Volleyball, Middles House and Wilsher could be seen with beaming smiles across their faces as it became apparent for the first time this year they would actually face a middle who could rival them in terms of height and hitting. (I say rival, he was better than us but still). Thus when it came to play Exeter 1sts the Men were absolutely raring to go.
As the set began it became clear to the previously nonchalant Premier Exeter side that Bristol were not going to lie down. Anyone who was witness to this game will testify as to the phenomenal volleyball the men played. Craig ‘Bette Midler’ Tavares-McKoy served and spiked brilliantly, consistently finding the gaps in the Exeter defence. Rob ‘Amazon River’ Pennifold meanwhile was setting with pin point accuracy, finding every player at will, working beautifully with Wilsher and House through the middle. Chris ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ Sherfield galvanised the team at every opportunity, pushing them to raise their game whilst proving his own worth through a number of corking hits backed up as ever by his nonchalant passing. Plinio ‘thumbs’ Zanini meanwhile erected his own wall at 2, blocking attack after attack from the Exeter outside. As for Justin, he was everywhere at once, a man possessed by an uncoordinated, unnatural passing demon, unstoppable in defence he kept the ball alive at all times.
The Men were on a roll.
The turning point however came from the man with the worst facial hair to ever grace Bournemouth. Having been brought on purely to serve and looking like that 13 year old at School who matured way before everyone else in his year, Fergus Henry Shaw was unbelievable. Pulling out float serve after float serve, pass after pass, and even a glorious back court spike, Shaw gave the Bristol team an unassailable lead as they took the first set 25-20.
Helped by the smart words of Coach Lorenzo who the men had secured on loan for the game, they started the second set as they ended the first. John ‘If you don’t climb the mountain you cant see the view’ House ran a shoot straight out of heaven slamming the ball down with unrecognisable ferocity, before then running one so dogged and awful it caused groans from all as he cannoned the ball out the back of the court. Special mention meanwhile to Plinio, who, seeing the high level of his opponents decided to roll back the years and crack out the underarm serve. What a ballsy man. Talk about backing yourself. As Exeter improved however the men felt the pressure and at 20-20 called a timeout, knowing one more point guaranteed the victory. Putting on his headset and baseball cap, John ‘Playmaker’ House organised the team telling Pennifold that he would draw the middle block so he could set a quick ball to outside Sherfield who would then kill the ball against one block. And what did they do? Exactly that. Utterly brilliant. (Is my pride about this game coming through? Probably.)
With that in the bank it was just a formality as Bristol took the set 27-25 and the game 2-0.
Unbelievable.
The in between times saw Fergus come a cropper thanks to the aforementioned Pasta as it exploded with all its chicken tikka goodness into his bag, covering everything from his clothes to his cinnamon bun. Not to be deterred and never one to waste anything, Fergus swept up the Pasta back into the pot and consumed it heartily, remarking that ‘It tastes a bit like floor’. Lovely.
The Mens next game was against Oxford 1sts, a team with a fantastic array of players. As ever Justin ‘twinkletoes’ Hui took it upon himself to keep Bristol in the game, using his unique abilities to recover the majority of the Oxford hits. With Pennifold setting well, and Matt ‘100%’ Birch even coming on to unleash a fierce spike, the Men stayed with Oxford the whole way, succumbing to a 25-20 loss in each set.
Nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes you have to accept a team is better than you, and after the herculean effort against Exeter this was always going to be tricky.
For anyone on the Mens team 12 months ago, the thought of the final game against Bournemouth filled them with dread. For it was a year ago that the Men could do nothing but watch as Liverpool beat them in the final game, with Bristol having nothing left in the tank. Thus it was that 7 weary men entered the court for the final game.
I say 7 weary men. 6 weary men, and the sassiest player to ever grace the court, Mr Christopher Sherfield.
At 16-11 to Bristol, the Bournemouth setter injured his foot and had to leave the court. However having already been subbed on and off he could not be replaced again. This Bristol had no problem with, they were happy to accept the injury. However, Bournemouth then tried to change their Libero to the setter, which is not within the rules. Protesting this quite rightly Bristol were awarded the set as a walkover. With the delightful Bournemouth coach visiting Chris on court and calling him some very kind names, Chris might as well have responded with a flick of his hair and click of his fingers as he dismissed the Bournemouth coach with the confidence of Beyonce. The decision however, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth by the Bournemouth coach, who remains firmly up the rear of Volleyball England it seems, was turned over.
Bournemouth understandably came back stronger, however Bristol were too much of a match for them and took the first set 25-20.
Falling behind 18-12 in the second set however, Bristol feared the worst. Energy was low and it wasn’t looking good. Step up Messrs Sherfield and Tavares-McKoy. With Middle House pretending to be selfless (but in reality being too tired to hit) by telling Pennifold to set outside, the two juggernauts at outside took on the challenge and smashed it home. Bristol won the set 25-20 and all was right with the world.
With 3 wins from 4 in what was a pool of death the Men had an absolutely cracking day and did all they can to get through to the next round.
Positives aplenty to take forward. It was one hell of a day and all who attended came back with the biggest of smiles on their faces. Apart from Craig. He was really tired.
Man of the Tournament – Without any doubt – Justin Hui. Unbelievable sir.
Mens 1sts Student Cup
Onwards.
Written by: John House

 

Mens 2nds BDVA Tournament (21/11/2015)

Mens 2nds BDVA Tournament (21/11/2015)

It was early on a cold Saturday morning (yes, 10am is early for some of us) when the men’s 2nd team met up at the coach station to head over to the peaceful town of Keynsham for our BVDA fixture. Our bus quickly filled up with other volley-ballers as we soon found out that all four of Bristol’s men’s and women’s teams would be playing at Keynsham today.
At long last we had arrived at our venue and our first game would be against the mighty men’s 1sts. Spurred on by our on-court captain Florian “Or is it Jeremie?” Potier with his delightful setting; the first set started off in our favour with us taking an early 4-2 lead. Moments later, a slight misplay almost saw a repeat of a horror injury which took place last month when Ralph “Also known as the house from Up” Bernardo almost jumped straight into the side poles again. This time, Ralph was aware of the daunting presence of the pole and swiftly managed to avoid any injury. Good one, Ralph. Despite the early positives, we eventually lost the set 25-15.
The second set started in similar fashion with us trailing slightly behind the 1sts. Some great passing by Chan “The boy with the dragon tattoo” Sheng helped us to keep the ball alive to witness some thundering spikes and acrobatic efforts with his feet (yet again) from Simos “We should get cheerleaders” Koutsoftides. We were able to keep up with the 1sts much closer this time with some smart and persistent play, however we ultimately lost the set 25-20.
We featured a very experimental lineup in our second game against the Bath men’s 1st team with, yours truly, Kenji “I really shouldn’t be setting” Capannelli stepping in as a setter. The game started off in a nervous fashion, with us hastily giving away points due to silly errors. A talking from our Captain/Coach Felipe “I can reach over the net” Freitas during a timeout helped us to find our feet and to get more of a rhythm going in our play.  Despite this, we still succumbed to a 25-11 defeat in the first set.
Our lack of energy and tiredness was beginning to show in the second set as Bath started to take the lead. Refusing to give up quite so easily, Lewis “Likes to go running in pink tutus” Caiger and Matthew “Yup-Yup” Wincott contributed with some alert passing and hitting, demonstrating that their growth in volleyball skills was much like a good cheddar: mature. We lost the second set 25-10, but it was delightful to see our team starting to come together and make the right decisions on court. The result may not have been positive, but we will take our defeat as a lesson and come back stronger next time on court.
Player of the Match: Goes to Simos for his excellent hitting and generally great all-round play that kept the team together against the men’s 1sts.
Written by: Kenji Capannelli

Plymouth Mens 1sts vs Bristol Mens 2nds – Conference Cup (25/11/2015)

Plymouth Mens 1sts vs Bristol Mens 2nds – Conference Cup (25/11/2015)

It was a chilly day. The UoB Volleyball Men’s 2nd team are set for yet another game away from home.

The two-hour long bus journey was compensated by the fact that the nice coach that we were on was only less than half occupied (Yeah, we could literally all lie down and sleep and still have plenty of space left on the coach). Overall, the bus journey was peaceful and rather cosy. We eventually arrived at the sports centre of University of St Mark & St John (not Plymouth Uni unfortunately), which is in the middle of nowhere in the suburbs of Plymouth. However, it is certain that neither teams will actually enjoy home court advantage (Just imagine UoB hosting a match but we use the sports hall of UWE).

Despite the confusion of locations of the match. The sports centre of St Mark & St Johns is indeed one of the most luxurious most of us has ever seen. Proof? Their annual gym membership is £200 (yes, you see that right). So no more words on how good the venue was.

After enjoying a bit of football (with University of Brighton playing here) playing on the fields (and we were lucky enough to witness a goal. Quite unusual for a football match, huh? PS: No sarcasm here), we headed into the big sports hall to get ready for our match.

Pre-game changing room stories are always worth a mention. Here are a few noticeable quotes:

“Ralph, the (team) shirts all smell like you!”

“Anyone want some snickers?”

“Where is the toilet?” (Yep, the toilet door had no sign on it)

And a reminder for anyone who bothers to read this article: Do not use the shower in the men’s changing room in UoB gym! Reason? Just ask Florian Potier and hopefully he will deny all accusations.

After a brief warm-up led by on-court captain Rob Evans and a bit of lecturing by Captain Felipe of why he cannot be on-court captain, we finally started the game.

We started with serving from Florian. The team quickly adapted to the pace of the game and gained a 5–1 lead, which led to our opponent calling for a time-out. After the time-out, our opponent found their rhythm and started to hit and serve hard (notably from their No.8 which earned the nickname “the beast” given by one of our members) that led to us slipping away lots of points. We kept the score at a very small margin thanks to lots of mistakes made by Plymouth. However, we did not manage to close the gap of the score until then. While by the end of the the set, Captain Felipe stressed the importance of blocking hits (again!) during a short time-out. Effectively, we delivered a few impressive blocks, especially by Marcus, that led to many hitting errors by Plymouth under pressure. We hanged around for quite a while before losing the first set 20–25.

The first set turned out to be the closest set of all. As Plymouth got into their pace and better reading our positions, we got heavily damaged by some massive hits particularly from No.8 “The Beast”. Our backcourt guys had a lot of pressure during this period, often being in the right position but unable to deliver a solid pass due to the shear strength of the hits taken in. We managed to stop the skid of scores by forcing our opponents to make mistakes. Honourable mention for Kenji for wonderfully pushing one ball to the dead corner! Nevertheless, the score margin could not narrowed and we lost the second set 15–25.

The offence by Plymouth came even stronger in the third set. With their hitters somehow finding more ways to get past our blocks, our backcourt players kept on enduring those massive hits. Our covering saw some improvements though, but this cannot prove useful while facing one after another flat jump serves by our opponents. Many points were lost in an easy fashion, while scoring ourselves asked us to be in the best form. Under one after another heavy jump serves from Plymouth, we came to a 13–25 third set loss.

After the game, we had some friendly hits with Plymouth with mixed up teams from both unis. Since it was a friendly session, we had plenty of fun and some new trials of positions (a peek to the future maybe). Marcus volunteered to become the libero at the backcourt whilst choosing to set while being front court. The confusion on his face during playing was an indicator that he’d better stick to hitting instead! Whereas captain Felipe had a massive one-man block against a huge hit from the opposite side. Perhaps we should experiment putting him as the middle guy on the next training session, hmm. Overall, the after session was great fun (especially for Felipe as he was chatting up the ref called Katie!) and draws a nice conclusion for our road trip.

conference cup

Player of the Match: Marcus Clifford

Written by: Chan Sheng

Cardiff Mens 1sts vs Bristol Mens 2nds (18/11/2015)

Cardiff Mens 1sts vs Bristol Mens 2nds (18/11/2015)

On the 18th of November, the Men’s 2nd team journeyed to Wales for a third time this year. Coach Tim had warned us that this would potentially be quite a tough side, but we were busy remembering how the previous two times we had returned victorious, so spirits on the coach out were high.

The first set started off less than ideally, with Marcus ‘I have one of the best float serves of the team’ Clifford missing all of his serves; Nigel ‘WHY ARE THERE LINE JUDGES!’ Chan getting shouted down by the 2nd ref. Movement was slow, balls were going uncalled for, not even Simeos’ huge outside hits were enough to bring things back. Much like this sentence. The first set was over much sooner than it should have been with Cardiff taking it 25-10. Not to be disheartened, the 2nd team having an accidental tradition of often losing the 1st set only to bring it back in an amazing fashion. Tim showed us our weaknesses, as well as theirs. We were ready to start hitting harder and pushing deeper. Despite some very nice dumps from Kenji, and some deadly spikes by our very own Rob Robinson, the second set was not very different from the first, with Cardiff ploughing ahead again taking it 25-16. All seemed lost, and I could swear that Kenji’s Japanese mask tattoo was shedding a tear.

The third set started out just like the other two, no one was in a good mood any more, with another argument erupting between the 2nd ref and Tim to do with personal space and the order of whistle blowing while substituting players. Tensions were running high, and this might have led to a last minute come back where it was all unleashed, alas this was not the case and Bristol were defeated once more 25-15. And just like that, the 2nd team’s fastest ever match was over. It was not our finest hour, everyone left the hall feeling a little bit dazed and slightly down. It seemed like the evening couldn’t possibly get any worse, if this were a movie, that would be the point where it would start raining, but because we were in Wales, it was already raining. The light at the end of the tunnel was an hour long KFC/McDonalds (the choice of which was a the subject of huge contention amongst the team) session while we waited for women’s hockey to finish their game. Despite a slightly happy ending, it was a sad day for the men’s 2nd team, and may we never have a match that bad ever again.

3_MatchReport_BUCS_Nov18

Player of the Match: Simos Koutsoftides

Written by: Marcus Clifford

Mens 2nds vs Gloucestershire 1sts (04/11/2015)

Mens 2nds vs Gloucestershire 1sts (04/11/2015)

After a good start to the season the 2nd team had the chance to kick off their home campaign in similar form against an experienced Gloucestershire side. Unfased by seeing their opponents arrive suited and booted and having watched a comfortable 3-0 win by the ladies, the team entered the first set full of confidence.

Despite facing some tricky serving the team managed to open up a good lead in the set. Most notably helped along by some heroic efforts to let nothing drop by Simos ‘Simeus’ Koutsoftides and some excellent hitting from the outside by Rob ‘Rob’ Robinson. Good passing coupled with multiple errors from our opponents led the first set being taken fairly comfortably, with a lovely blocking combination from Mike Avery and Marcus ‘Happy Ending’ Clifford sealing the set for the men in maroon.

After the change of ends Gloucester started to properly find their rhythm for the first time, with the same deadly setting and hitting combination proving costly to Bristol. Despite this the standard mostly remained high, with only a few unforced errors creeping into the team’s game, with Avery’s setting helping to vary the attack. This resulted in a close set but unfortunately the balance had tipped in favour of our opponents, with the score levelling.

The next two sets continued in a similar vein, with the teams fairly evenly matched but with Bristol losing out via a few mistakes as well as the quality of a few of the opposition players. Generally the quality of play was good but there were a few elements that let the team down, plenty of work in training still to do. A 3-1 scoreline flattered the visitors, but the return leg presents a perfect opportunity to make things right.
Player of the Match: Rob Robinson

Written by: Rob Evans

Ladies 2nds BDVA Tournament (21/11/2015)

Ladies 2nds BDVA Tournament (21/11/2015)

This was the weekend we had all been looking forward to, although perhaps being slightly terrified at the same time. This was the weekend we would take it up not only against Bath, but also against our ladies first team. We arrived at the bus station where we joined forces with the men’s second team who would also be playing against the first team. Luckily for Maria, who was supposed to guide us to the sports hall, Felipe, who has better leadership skills than Obama, Ghandi and Nelson Mandela combined, took over and safely got us to Wellsway (although he refused to pay). The fact that there were only six of us playing (priorities, priorities, priorities) didn’t matter as Wellsway was one big UoB volleyball fiesta.

When we arrived we started out by reffing a beautiful game between Bath and Bristol 1st. After that it was time to put ourselves to the test by taking it up against Bristol 1st.  Having spent most of our Friday training session on rotations, we were more or less a well-oiled machine. Zoe, being our only setter, delivered some great sets and although our blocking might need some improvement, we played well. There were even moments in both games there where we were taking the lead. For a moment we thought there might be a case of the tortoise winning the race from the hare, but we had to face the fact that the first team is called that for a reason. Our sisters (Yes we forgive you Johanna) might have eaten the cookies meant for Santa, but it was a good game. Nothing better than finding out what needs improving and what your strong point are, than by taking it up against the girls that you know so well (from, you know, dressing up as birds and houses and showing of dance moves together).

The hall being as cold as the Antarctic, caused us to be still slightly cold even after an intense game. Luckily we could keep moving, and move we did, as it was now time to play against Bath. With the support of some of our fellow volleyball players we bravely started the game. Great work from Dasha as an opposite and from Antillia ‘Runs More Than Usain Bolt’ Virginie, accompanied by nice passes from Morgane ‘I Sometimes Forget That I Have Two Arms’ Singh.

We all worked hard, but it is Angela who deserves the applause, the ribbon of honour and the hymn. Not only did she play excellently overall, but her serving caused a tsunami of points. Even though Zoe still tried to make it a democratic vote, none of us had to think long about who the MVP of the day was.

Two losses, but not a single sad face. We improved, we played well together and we know what we did wrong. Another beautiful Saturday and time to join the boys to return to beautiful Bristol.

Ladies 2nds BDVA

Player of the Match: Obviously Angela ‘Serves Like A Canon’ Lui.

 

Written by: Dasha Kravtsova and Maria Klønhammer

Mens 1sts BDVA Tournament (21/11/2015)

Mens 1sts BDVA Tournament (21/11/2015)

On Saturday 21st November, the Men’s 1st team travelled to Keynsham for the big one. The one that everyone had been waiting for. The clash of titans. The UOBVC Men’s 1st team took on the UOBVC Men’s 2nd team. Oh, and Bath.

With this season’s later starting time of 11.30, the Men arrived at Wellsway School fresh as a daisy, having had a nice lie in and plenty of time to get ready. Extraordinarily, however, one player was missing. With Mike worried that he might lose his ‘shirtless rave’ reputation, Fergus ‘3 alarms’ Shaw had somehow managed to oversleep and miss his lift.

Even without their full squad, the Men had to go on. Every player was keen to step up. With team captain Chris ‘Cream of Mushroom’ Sherfield taking on a coaching role and thus sacrificing himself from the starting line-up, Rob ‘Not very sweaty at all’ Pennifold was named on-court captain. Not satisfied with this meagre promotion however, Pennifold took it upon himself to become the full captain, marching up to the pre-game coin toss (well actually, it was a ‘guess which hand the whistle is in’. in case you were wondering), much to the despair of Sherfield. The ‘coin toss’ was won, however, with Rob ‘Dry as a freshly tumble-dried towel’ Pennifold choosing to serve. The team talk was short and to the point: ‘Let’s show the 2nd team why we’re the 1st team’.

Unfortunately, it didn’t appear to work. There’s not much to say about the first set, other than it was an extremely lacklustre performance from the Men. Some mildly-acceptable passing from Aidan ‘But you said there was no line to cross’ Mckay and Jonny ‘Sir, Yes Sir’ Childs, mediocre setting from Rob ‘Dry as the Atacama desert’ Pennifold and decent-enough hitting from Plinio ‘Set me!’ Zanini, Craig ‘Charlotte Church’ Tavares-McKoy* and Mike ‘Chips and gravy’ Wilsher, and, more importantly, a superb run of serves from Matt ‘Casual’ Birch, the Men won the first set 25-20.

*The University of Bristol Volleyball Club would like to clarify that this reference is purely to Craig’s singing ability, and nothing to do with his attendance of anti-austerity protest marches, nor his preference for dating famous Welsh Rugby players, for which we can make no comment. We also desperately hope that he never decides to rebel from his classical background to release an awful pop song called ‘Crazy Chick’. Don’t do it Craig, you’re so much better than that.

Needless to say, Chris ‘Tom Yum’ Sherfield was not impressed, labelling it as the worst set of volleyball the team had ever played. He fired the team up, returning them to the court with renewed hunger. Brilliant passing from Felipe ‘This isn’t a nickname, but apparently Mexicans put dried meat in their cocktails. Weird.’ Galindo Sanchez and Justin ‘Alakazam’ Hui. Fantastic line hitting from Childs and Plinio ‘Come on Rob, set me!’ Zanini. The Men slammed home point after point, until they’d gained enough of an advantage that they were confident in seeing out the match. However, that point came when they were just 3-0 up. With the rest of the set panning out rather limply like the first, the Men nonetheless closed out the match, taking a 2-0 win.

While the Men took a break, the supporters continued, with Mrs. Pennifold (my Mother, I’m not quite old enough to be married just yet) striving to learn the rules from McKay’s other half Josie, who ‘did a wonderful job, such a delightful young lady’. Meanwhile, Fergus ‘Henry’ Shaw finally arrived ready to play the second game against Bath.

Now any of you who are acquainted with members of the first team will know that they all have egos more sizeable than Mike’s… err… leg, and certainly don’t need boosting. So I assure you that Sherfield’s decision to put himself on court had no correlation whatsoever with every other player seeming to raise their game and put on an actually quite decent performance for the first set. With Wilsher and Birch running some excellent middle attacks, with Birch already learning of Wilsher’s ability to whisper ‘Reverse’ right before the setter plays the ball, the Men took a good lead. They also decided to actually serve in the court, which helped, in spite of Plinio ‘Pleeeeeease set me, Rob!!!’ Zanini ambitiously attempting a jump serve. Not quite the standard of Craig’s yet, but I’m sure you’ll get there, ‘my sweaty friend’. Anyway, the Men took the first set 25-17.

Of course it didn’t last. Having excelled in the second set to take a strong lead of 15-7, with Shaw and Childs both hitting superbly, Chris ‘Beef Broth’ Sherfield substituted himself off. Again, as if by magic, and no correlation with Chris’ ability on court, the rest of the team slumped. Bath capitalised on this, bringing back a number of points, and eventually winning the second set 25-23.

The third set was to be to 15. Sherfield, clearly not at all satisfied with the performance so far that day, told the team to have no mercy on the Bath team, who had just celebrated winning a set like they’d won the World Cup. The Men had clearly had enough of playing badly, so they went out in the final set with a new sense of supremity. With Sherfield actually meriting his ego boost this time, scoring 4 of the first 8 points before the side-change with some excellent hitting, the Men opened up a big advantage. They finally managed to continue it throughout the set, with each player showing a resemblance of their real ability. Finishing on a high, the Men took the final set 15-7 and thus the game 2-1.

Not the most pleasing of days, but two wins in preparation of the long journey to Warwick (4 hours?! Google says it’s only 1h 51 minutes!) for Wednesday’s BUCS Trophy match.

Onwards.

Player of the Match: Matt Birch

Written by Rob Pennifold

Ladies 1sts BDVA Tournament (21/11/2015)

Ladies 1sts BDVA Tournament (21/11/2015)

Ah the weekend…Time to sleep in after an excessive party, to binge watch your favourite TV show and to regain strength for the next week. Oh or… you could get up way too early, leave your house, travel in the ice-cold wind to a gym heated up to the toasty temperature of you average refrigerator where you will freeze your butt of while playing all the people who you regularly see in your own gym just around the corner. That does sound like a lovely Saturday morning doesn’t it?

But at least it was not just the Ladies 1st Team who needed to neglect their much beloved beauty sleep! The whole Bristol Volleyball Family fought the mighty hangover and the arctic temperatures to compete in the BDVA-tournament. One of the ladies almost didn’t make it though due to a hot and greasy morning date with a mysterious man. Don’t worry though your dirty little secrets are safe with me.

The Ladies were starting with a clean slate after two triumphs and two shameful defeats but the spirits were never higher. This was partially due to a great team spirit but it was mostly the promise of soft, buttery German-chocolate-cookies brought out the fighter in every single player.

But then the first task that seemed almost impossible: warming up the icy-cold hand and feet and stealing some “not totally shitty” balls from the second team’s bag! After totally killing this task the next one proved even more difficult: Bath Uni! Like usual our team needed some time in the first set to remember how to actually  play Volleyball  but then –  let me tell you – textbook volleyball. Our very own Patricia ‘Sharapova’ Mejia pushed out one perfect set after the other, only stopping to hit the hardest serves of the day. But she is also the only one making inappropriate noises while serving… this is not tennis you know! But the star of this set was without a doubt Jasmine ‘I’ll hit You Where It Hurts’ Zhang who was smacking it hard but was cold-blooded enough to tip it to the right place at the right time securing the final point (26-24) with a long push to position five.
The great volleyball continued in the second set with beautiful passing by Libero ‘Anna Watch Out Karoline’ Meletiou and well-placed tips by Adelaide ‘Tipping Is Not optional Where I’m From’ Hargreaves. All in all, a great effort from everyone and another win for the Bristol Ladies!

The day was not over though and a moral dilemma was coming up…how do you play against your own family? Ladies 1st vs. Ladies 2nd! The clash of the Titans! Only the Klitschko Brothers could understand this feeling. (Do British people even know those guys? Have they ever boxed against each other? Why do people even watch boxing? That is just a weird sport.) Especially for Gaby ‘I Am An Asset To Any Team’ Cropper this was difficult situation.  After a strong start the Ladies started to look as guilty as a little kid after eating the cookies which were intended for Santa Claus. (Do people in the U.K. even do that? Is he called Santa Claus here?) However the hunger for a double win and baked goods was stronger than the guilt of beating your own family and the Ladies 1st were leaving the court with two wins. Hopefully time is gonna heal those deep wounds and our sisters will forgive us.

However, the best part was still to come: even though we won two games, our lovely coach Abi ‘Drill Sergeant’ Wooden made the whole team do 5 crunches for every serve someone missed, providing us with irritated looks by the Bath Team. Special thanks to Jalayna ‘Oh Swing On That’ Szepesi for coming with us and giving tips and feedback.

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Player of the Match and Coaches’ pick: goes to Jasmine ‘Smack That’ Zhang for beautifully placed tips and smart attacks! Also thanks for taking the time to play Wednesday and Saturday #commitment!!!
Special mention to Gaby ‘I Serve It Everytime’ Copper for her serving streak in the second game!

We are growing together as a team and everyone has improved…Proud to play with you guys!

Written by: Johanna Mast

Bath Ladies 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 2nds (18/11/2015)

Bath Ladies 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 2nds (18/11/2015)

We started the day slightly apprehensive, knowing that the team we were about to play was currently at the top of our league, but bursting with excitement nonetheless. It was the first week we had not been provided with transport to take us to our match, so after dividing up between the cars we set off for Bath with Hattie and Zoë taking the wheel. The plus side of making our own way there meant we were free to go nuts with whatever music we liked, which of course we took full advantage of – Dasha taking the opportunity to introduce the group to some Russian pop while the other car opted for some good old Justin Bieber and general tunes to get us pumped up! With many of us having university in the morning we only had an hour to make it to our destination for the match which was due to start at 1pm, however some excellent driving (and getting lost only once) meant we all made it just in time. It wasn’t the most relaxed build up to the game with Monika nearly removing Dasha’s foot with a car door and more than a little running to make it in time after navigating the extremely busy parking system, but we had made it and we were there!

We promptly began our warm up and before we knew it, it was time to begin. The first set started off reasonably well, with some good serving and 3-touch volleyball meaning we took the lead 10-8. Perhaps we got too excited that we seemed to be matching the other team quite well, because here is where things started to go downhill ever so slightly! With some strong serving from a select few of the Bath players the points difference began to widen – and not in our favour – beyond the point of return. Despite some good play, nicely placed sets and hitting from Camellia, Gaby, Hattie and Beccy, it was not enough to bring the match back. Bath took the first set.

Entering the second set we were determined not to be disheartened, bringing on the Russian wonder Dasha Selivanenko in attempt to up our game against our rivals. Unfortunately this wasn’t the set for us, and even a substitution for secret weapon Klᴓnhammer couldn’t save us from a second defeat. The best way to describe it is like ripping off a plaster – quick and painful. But the match wasn’t over yet, and though hope was dwindling we weren’t going to give up easily.

After some strong words (and perhaps slightly too loud) from captain Zoë that all was not lost and we shouldn’t give up, coach Tim’s ‘just get some points’ tactics seemed the only option left to us as the prospect of a win was fading. Bringing Camellia ‘chameleon’ Chan back on court we were ready to face the final set, which turned out to show a slight improvement in points from the previous set but still not enough. Miss Chan became the embodiment of her namesake, sticking to the floor as she slid left, right and centre, nearly knocking herself out in the process after a particularly strong hit to the head as she dove epically to the floor. The risk of concussion was not enough to stop her though and she played on like a trooper until Monika jumped in to give us some fresh energy and enthusiasm (if that was possible at this time in the game). Though we fought valiantly, the points escaped us and Bath took the third set, winning the match 3-0. A very worthy opponent!

Player of the Match goes to the agile blocking-machine Hattie Freer-Smith for all-round good play.

Ladies 2nds vs Bath

Written by: Zoë Holt

Ladies 1sts vs Cardiff 1sts (11/11/2015)

Ladies 1sts vs Cardiff 1sts (11/11/2015)

On Wednesday the 11th of November 2015, the Ladies’ First Team fought a long and hard battle against the fury that was Cardiff. The team warm up began with excitement and talk of the latest episode of Desperate Housewives, which was hastily shot down by Setter Cheryl “I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed” Nordal who asked for more focus from the players. Following the warm up came a pep talk from stand in Coach Christopher “Triple Ripple” Sherfield, who told the team that this was going to be the battle of the century… Little did the girls know just how right, the wise and extremely handsome Coach was. This would be longer than any game they had ever played, longer than all three of the Lord of the Rings (extended editions), and even longer than Michael “Big Mike” Wilsher’s pen 15 fan club mailing list. After several big hits from Sylvia “I’m Sorry” Betrosian and the powerful blocks of Shatha “I put Kuwait on the map” Al-Huneidi, the girls were ready to take the first set as their own. Cardiff, however had different ideas and despite the girls’ best efforts the end of the set showed their Welsh counterparts as the victors, taking the set by two points at 25:23. The loss was absolutely devastating to these hard working girls, even more devastating than having to be carried home from a night out at Bunker…Despite these feeling’s the ladies shook off their loss and started getting hyphy for the next set’s adventures.

The second set gave way to the incredible Kate “Jumping just isn’t my thing” Wyver stepping into the game. Her powerful swings and strong cross court serves were no match for Cardiff. Alongside this the dream team, the magnificent marvel, the absolute abundance of awesomeness that was Jalayna “Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me” Szepesi and Cheryl “Guys I just wanna go home” Nordal, were absolutely killin’ it, as Canadians do. Despite their best efforts to shut Szepesi out of the game with their impressive defense and big blocks, she continued to smash the ball onto the opposite side of the court like it was her day job. Special mention to Al-Huneidi for her incredibly consistent blocking and hitting through the middle. These spectacular players brought the second set to a close at 25:18 for Bristol, giving their little Welsh friends something to bring back to the sheep.

The third set was about to begin and tensions were high, higher than Rob “Sweaty Betty” Pennifold’s temperature during a warm up. Bristol began the set with high hopes in continuing their win, and proved that they were a team of truly hard-working and dedicated individuals. The powerhouse Al-Huneidi was given a chance to stop carrying the team and have a sip of water, while Abi “Net Touch” Wooden stepped into the game and showed Cardiff how to put the B in Bristol. Even with one of their players making a perfect pass with her foot, Cardiff was unable to cope with the Bristol fury that resulted in another set being taken 25:14. The ladies absolutely dominated in this set, thanks to the hulk of a middle Catherine “Tangy Cheese” Wright and fantastic passing from libero Karoline “I can dig that, anytime, anywhere” Antoinette Dronnen.

The Bristol Ladies could taste the victory and despite their exhaustion went into the fourth set with high spirits. These feelings of enthusiasm were slowly demolished by the Cardiff team, who clearly wasn’t going to give up yet. With strong opposite hitting from Lorena “Smack That” Balan the girls were able to score several points, but lost their momentum, which can only be blamed on the incredibly dramatic line judging by John “Olaf” House and Jacob “Tennis Knee” Webster who decided it would be fun to wave their hands in the air like they just didn’t care throughout the set. This was soon brought to a close by Christopher “The Handsome” Sherfield who politely asked them to stop, showing the girls that his dedication to their cause was truer than true. Despite these heroic actions the girls lost the set 25:15, and thus the game would be decided in the fifth and final set.

This set was full of magical moments of happiness, tears, anger and even religious callings. The ladies knew what was on the line and looked to their Coach for the game plan, which he simply told them was to win. The set did not start off as well as the team had hoped, down 7:1 their spirits were slowly being sucked out of them, as if the Cardiff team had suddenly become dementors. A time out was called and Coach Sherfield told the girls to take a break, and focus on the game ahead of them. So, the girls put aside their exhaustion and buckled up for the ride ahead. With Betrosian’s fantastic outside hitting and Al-Huneidi’s strong serving, the ladies were able to gain momentum and bring the score back up to 11:14. With the game on the line the ladies knew what the cost of one mistake would be. Another Bristol time out was called as Coach Chris-top-hair told the team the game plan, “Cheryl’s going to set Jalayna and she’s going to f”ckin’ nail it”. A simple plan, from a simple man. Stepping back onto the court the ladies felt a mix of excitement and sadness that can only be compared to that of biting into a doughnut and expecting jam, but getting custard instead. The Cardiff team took to the court and served a mean ball at Bristol, which resulted in Cheryl “Can I Just Say Something” Nordal running to position five to try and make a perfect set out to Szepesi in position two. Now you may ask yourself what are the chances of this actually happening? But let me tell you those two Canadian Polar Bears absolutely killed it! A backwards bump from Nordal straight into the waiting hand of Szepesi resulted in a blast from the past hit onto the opposite side of the court.

With this Szepesi herself was now going back to serve the ball that she had earned. A fantastic jump float resulted in yet another point, and the ladies were beginning to feel as though this might not be the end. At 13:14 the tension could have been cut with a knife, as both teams were sweating more than Plinio “Blue Towel” Zanini in the Men’s previous match that day. The ladies managed to score another two points through their fantastic game-play, which resulted in a time out on the Cardiff side. The ladies were using this break to breathe and re-fuel, Szepesi however had other ideas about how the time out should be handled. By huddling in closely Priest Szepesi gave the team a Sermon and directly channeled the power of God. The team cheered with any energy that they could muster up and stepped back onto the court. What happened next was truly magical, Szepesi’s serve floated over the Cardiff team and dropped on the back line. ACE! ACE! ACE! Bristol wins the set 16:14 due to the holy power of the heavens! No matter what the cause, the girls exploded into a spinning circle of pure joy and utter exhaustion. Christopher “I’m a man” Sherfield clearly felt he had no place in the celebrations and instead took the far better alternative of standing awkwardly beside them. Smooth dude.

Bristol Ladies remain at the top of the league, having won 4/5 of their games this season.  Next week’s challenge will be a home game against the mighty Gloucestershire University.

bristol
Player of the Match goes to two exceptionally talented ladies: Miss Shatha and Miss Jalayna for their heroic game play, you two carried the team with your consistently strong hitting and serving.

Man of the Match: Christopher “Awesome Pants” Sherfield, for giving us great tips and game plans, which led us to a victory in the hardest game we’ve played all season. Thanks Chris, we all really appreciate it!

*Special mention to God, who really helped us out with that last point! Cheers God.

Thanks to Matteo and Rob for reffing, and to John and Jacob for line judging.

See you guys next week!

Written by: Cheryl Nordal

Ladies 2nds BDVA Tournament (07/11/2015)

Ladies 2nds BDVA Tournament (07/11/2015)

It was early, very early, and exactly twelve hours after we had finished our training from the day before, when Ladies second gathered at the bodacious Bristol bus station. It was Caitlin and Maria K who led us to the beautiful, and more importantly, spacious Sports Hall of Bedminster (some of us had been traumatised by the claustrophobic hall in Cardiff for our BUCS games). With more discipline and efficiency than the Bristol University Royal Naval Unit at the Remembrance Day parade, eight of us made our way to the place where we would take it up against the Cardiff Jets and Bristol VC.

On our way there we found out that we were a group of many nationalities: Dasha from Kazakhstan, Angela from China, Tolu from the US (although she got herself out of writing this match report by saying that she was also Nigerian and claimed that English is not their national language…Wikipedia claims otherwise), Antilia from France, Maria G from Colombia, Maria K from The Netherlands, Caitlin from the UK and Morgane from France and the UK. This meant that all of us had learned volleyball in another language (Even Caitlin, who learned to play in Paraguay) resulting in a very broad knowledge of volleyball terms in different languages.

It was in the sports hall where we met up with Tim, who had many wise words for us. As we have been only playing together for two months and six of us are new on the team, there are still many things to learn, but as we all had the excitement of ten days old puppies, these were challenges we could not wait to take.

We started our first match with a beautiful serve from Antillia. And even though we were at times rather confused, with some desperate ‘oh no’ yelling from Morgane, we fought our way through the first set. There were great sets that only got better throughout the two games by Dasha, who was new as a setter, and Caitlin, our more seasoned setter. It was in the second set that we scored a point by a kick more impressive than Rene Higuita’s scorpion kick. Both Maria G and Higuita are Colombians, so there might be something in the water.

We got more used to the rotations, started playing more as a well-established team, got louder: we improved. But, alas, we lost both sets and thus the match. It was time for some reffing.

After witnessing a beautiful match between the Jets and Bristol VC and having become as cold as Australians who got deported to the Alaska, it was time for our second match. A match where our improvement as a team already was already showing. Morgane, together with Maria K, who got to be Zoe for a day, made sure we cheered louder and louder every set. Tolu had an amazing last-minute fall backward to ensure that the ball would not hit here, but the floor outside the court. There was a lot of angry yelling (but the good kind of angry, like the yelling of passionate lovers) and very good, consistent passing by Angela.

Again: We got more used to the rotations, started playing more as a well-established team and started to feel more confident, got louder: we improved. But, alas, we lost both sets and thus the match. But it did not matter. We came out a different team than we had come in as. A team that played better together, who felt more confident and did not run around the court like headless chickens (or special space cadets). Special mention to Tim, who besides doing a great job on coaching us, finally managed to pronounce Tolu’s name exactly as you’re supposed to.

It was time to end a great that full of great volleyball. Morgane expressed her love for IKEA and the others had, the inevitable when being with a group of internationals, yet another fight about language (“your stupid French counting doesn’t make any sense” *gestures that I will not describe here* “well at least it taught us how to do maths, unlike you Brits” etc. etc.), what more do you want from a Saturday.

MVP: the nominations for mvp promis for a team that will play very well together.  There were as many as five different people nominated, with Caitlin, Maria G and Antilia getting the most votes.
Written by: Maria Klønhammer

Ladies 2nds BDVA Tournament (17/10/2015)

Ladies 2nds BDVA Tournament (17/10/2015)

“You can’t just give up! Is that what a dinosaur would do?!”

Joey Tribbiani

It was on the early (much to early) hours of Saturday the 17th of October that the Ladies 2nd Team woke up and directed themselves towards the hidden Bristol Coach Station. They were advised to meet at Bay 17, but some dared to stand halfway – right between 16 and 17 – making us believe they were in two places at once (one of the many amazing deeds of the day).

After kicking it off nice and softly with a grumpy bus driver who hated to be confused as a taxi, the brave Caitlin lead the whole team to the right bus – and very lady-like payed all of our tickets. For that, I must say we wouldn’t had made it without her (THANKS CAITLIN, YOU RULE!). Within a few minutes (sort of, when having fun the notion of time seems to suffer a significant reduction), we arrived at our stop in the quite mysterious land of Keynsham. Within 15 minutes of a massive cardio/warm up walk we arrived at the lovely Wellsway School – of which we saw only the gymnasium, outside courts and endless fields of green.

While chatting about future dreams and goals for after the game, the whole team was surprised by a Sainsbury’s Mighty Bag filled with MARVELLOUS deep red uniforms! Everybody was very polite about choosing their numbered t-shirts and I saw that as a sign of great bonding and everlasting love among this family that is the Ladies 2nd team.

Well, now comes the most exciting part: THE GAME. While still getting ready for the match we were surprised by the appearance of fellow teammates wearing a dark blue XXL shirt…….THE BEMI TEAM SHIRT! That was quite a shocker and we needed some sweets to get over it, but finally we managed to understand the situation and rise above it. We had two games that day, we needed to GET IT TOGETHER AND SERVE THEM ALL!

Our first game, against BEMI, was intense. IT HAD IT ALL: EMOTIONAL TENSION, EXCITEMENT, SWEAT, YELLING, CHEERS, HAND SLAPPING, DIGGING AND SOME PENETRATING performed by our sparkling captain CHARLIE. Along with all that we had another aspect to process: we had never EVER played together! YES, GOOSEBUMPS INDEED! So first set: really intense, filled up with excited cheers (yes, I include myself and my uncontrolled excitement), tips from Tim (ESPECIALLY ABOUT OUR POSITIONS IN COURT) and some awkward nervous laughs. Our reception was beautiful – dig after dig the volleyball made a parabolic movement towards the setter. Some spike action was perceived through the hands of Maria L. and Dasha Jr. Special glitter dust to our libero, Angela who never faded! In spite of all that, we lost the first set. BUT THAT DID NOT MATTER, once our TEAM MAGIC was discovered we managed to RULE the second set and make to the third decisive set. That one was intense. Name calling (the ball, not other people…) and some dark times trying to figure out our positioning system. Nevertheless, we played in a very honorable way, but this wasn’t our match to win.

Ignoring our previous result and using the experience to build a stronger team, we all wore grins and gave away celebration hugs (after all it is not every day you get to find TEAM MAGIC) we proceeded to referee the next match of our beloved BEMI/Ladies 2nd -in-disguise  team against The City of Bristol. This was quite a game and I believe we all got inspired by it in many ways: firstly, the volleyball itself – great passes, serves and fantastic blocking moves! Other aspects that should be highlighted were the referee’s fair trial and calm attitude towards some heated moments throughout the game.

Finally, the time had arrived for our last game! This was against the City of Bristol, a very difficult opponent with some nice hitters hidden throughout the court. This left us a bit nervous and, unfortunately, our little mistakes and service misses messed with our confidence and focus, hindering us from getting it together and taking the gold home. Concerning our team spirit and joy, I am glad to say those weren’t affected and we had an excellent journey back home – READY TO SHINE ON FUTURE GAMES!

Written by: Beatriz Valenca

Mens 1sts vs USW 1sts (11/11/15)

Mens 1sts vs USW 1sts (11/11/15)

On the 11th November the Mens 1sts took on their biggest challenge of the year so far in the form of USW, a team who sat 2nd in the league.

Arriving as ever looking as fresh as a 5 pack of doughnuts from Sainsburys that ‘Have been previously frozen’ the Men were quickly put through their paces by yet another overtly energetic warm up courtesy of Coach Matteo. With Rob ‘Sweaty Betty’ Pennifold and Plinio ‘Moist Towelette’ Zanini already working towards filling a small swimming pool the Men were delighted when the whistle to start warming up through 4 gifted them a well deserved break.
Such delight however soon turned to alarm at the sight of the lack of control the USW middles had over their jumps, with most of them plowing straight through the net, leading to many concerned looks from the already walking wounded on the Bristol side. Ankle strength is certainly not a core power of the Mens 1st team.

The Men began the 1st set as they begin most 1st sets, by losing the first 4 points. This however, was to be the only time Bristol fell behind in the entire game. With the wind in their proverbial sails, or if you prefer, the wind in John ‘Holiday Weight’ House’s bingo wings, the Men fought back superbly and quashed any USW hopes with an array of blocks and colossal spikes courtesy of Craig ‘Toni Braxton’ Tavares-McKoy, helped as ever by the on point setting of Betty. Christopher ‘#tripleripple’ Sherfield meanwhile, making his dramatic return to the squad after a week off, shook off some early cobwebs to do what he does best – take every bloody set… leaving nothing for his particularly handsome middles Webster and House. As the set progressed at significant pace the aforementioned Zanini, channeling his inner and outer teen wolf, smashed a ball down into the USW side only to double over in equal measure on the Bristol side having developed cramp 17 points into the game. Fitness clearly going well there. Such a fall also brought a key Bristol player into the game – the Blue towel. With Plinio having given the court a nice salty wipe through his fall, the court was mopped up with particular enthusiasm by all round hero and team player Coach Matteo. Just two points later USW lost another point by smashing the ball out of play…or so Jacob ‘Tennis Knee’ Webster thought, only realising the ball had been called in as he turned to serve. The look of indignation on his face will stick strong in the minds of all who attended, whilst he should also be praised for the particular aplomb with which he threw his arms up in protest.

More excitement was to come however, at 23-14, perennially poor passer House saw the ball dropping to the court in front of him after a deft tip from the USW setter. Whirring his body into motion the Great Oak began to fall, throwing some timber at the ball as he did so, sending the ball over into the USW side and securing the point. Whilst the majority of the team revelled in such a sight, no one was more happy than onlooking Performance Sport Guru Matt Paine, who’s unbridled joy was clear to see as he apparently lost control of his own limbs up on the balcony. Smooth Matt, smooth. With such scenes behind them the Men took the first set 25-14.

Bristol began the second set as they ended the first. By setting to Chris.

I joke. It’s just fun to wind Rob and Chris up.

Bristol did actually begin as they ended the first set however as they continued to play fantastic volleyball. Aided by the new power couple of Liberos’ Jaidan McHui, who alternated their time on court, the Men were able to unleash their full arsenal of hits. Seriously, great praise to Justin and Aidan, they were virtually faultless (Aidans music choice at the warm up slightly let him down). Bristol dominated throughout the early stages and had a 16-11 lead at the first time out. After a spike from House however Sherfield was visibly disgusted by the pace of the USW players roll of the ball back under the court which left much to be desired, indeed such was its audacity that there were rumours of a ‘tut’ being heard from the usually placid Bristol crowd. Yet more falls by the sweaty double act meanwhile meant that the Blue towel seemed to spend more time on court than off.Craig ‘Freddie Mercury’ Tavares-McKoy meanwhile found himself as the victim of the referees whistle, as he smashed a cracking jump serve over the net only to be unjustly ruled to have performed a foot fault. Despite these set backs the Men continued to dominate and took the set 25-21.

With the game highlighting Bristols fantastic potential as a side the third set was once again a spectacle for the watching crowd. With Coach Matteo making absolutely no changes on court, the Men were now in full flow. The blue towel meanwhile continued to make the most of what was now apparently its testimonial match as yet more streaks of salty joy were made across the court. At 18-15 the Men were confident the set was theirs. Such confidence however perhaps got the best of Middle House who after running a fantastically well set shoot, got way too excited and prematurely celebrated all over the court. Turning to see the ball landing in the Bristol court having ricocheted off a USW chest and foot House was left with egg on his face and a very painful hand courtesy of the most annoyed of high-fives from Captain Chris Sherfield. Soz Chris, but in fairness, statistically it happens to 1 in 5 Men. Having witnessed such a display Sherfield decided to take matters into his own hands, hitting 4 unreturned serves in a row. With Matteo bringing on Fergus ‘You know you’re drunk when’ Shaw he was clearly banking on the headband wearing opposite to unleash a meaty left arm swing to win the game. However Sherfield had other ideas swiftly serving another ace, before on the next and final point House stuffed the final USW hit. Unlucky Ferg. Thanks for coming though. Bristol thus took the set 25-18 and the game 3-0.

Player of the Match: The Blue Towel for a match saving performance.
Special mention though to Rob Pennifold, because he was astonishingly good.

Our thanks to Karoline ‘Enveloped’ Dronnen and Zoe Holt for refereeing the game.

The unbeaten streak continues.

Top of the league.

Guess what…

Onwards.

Written by: John House

Swansea Ladies 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 1sts (04/11/2015)

Swansea Ladies 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 1sts (04/11/2015)

Twas the 4th of November, when all through the union, every BUCS player was ecstatic, for it was game day reunion.

The Ladies 1st team patiently awaited their mini bus, and were thrilled when they discovered the men’s football team would be a no-show. So the team set off on their international adventure, towards the sweet city of Swansea, Wales. Upon arrival, the team was greeted with the sweet smell of chlorine and enemy tears, clearly marking a foreshadow for the night to come.

The match began with an intense warm-up with the opponents “dread-head” coach standing fearlessly at the back of the court taking notes on the dashing smashes exhibited by the ladies in maroon. Shortly following that, outside hitter Jalayna ‘Sorry!!!’ Szepesi, had no choice but to tip the opposite set right into the noggin of one of the Swansea ladies. After several very Canadian apologies, a dirty look was returned, and right there it was decided, no mercy.

*Note, the following match report may have scenes of dramatisation and embarrassingly wrong remarks, but bear with me because I’m foreign and have a terrible memory.

The first set started off very strong with Cheryl ‘Sets on the Beach’ Nordal float serving like a boss, and “droppin’ em like it’s hot” into the messy formation of the rivals. It was in this set that a wild whip emerged, it was on a trouble ball that seemed dangerously low to hit, came Shatha “Whiplash” Al-Huneidi out of nowhere like a crazed out spider monkey only to smash the ball to pieces, leaving the rest of the team in awe & shock. The Swansea warriors managed to return many of the hard driven balls that came their way, making it an enjoyable match to play. But unfortunately, mere effort would be not be enough for the warriors, with Bristol taking the first set a comfortable 25-13.

For the first time in Bristol history, the one and only Karoline ‘Captain Hook’ Dronner stepped on the court in a maroon shirt and into the position as the play maker, the star of the show, yes, that’s right ladies and gentlemen, the setter. The new formation proved to be a tough pill for the Bristol ladies to swallow, but with a necessary timeout and a pint of water, that pill went down as smooth as a pint of Thatchers Gold on a Wednesday night. The ladies managed to pop the ball up high enough for Karoline to do her thang and in turn make it rain. Despite the slight hiccup, the ladies remained calm and collected only to win the set 25-15.

In between sets, Cheryl ‘Sets on the Beach’ Nordal made her mate (Chris) very proud with some necessary mountain climbers to “warm up her hands”…. You keep doin’ you Cheryl. Once warm, Cheryl stepped back onto the court with the ‘Tower Lineup’ plus Jalayna. The intimidation was seeping from the pores of the Swansea warriors, fearing these tall creatures might cripple their hands with one middle quick ball….. and boy were they right. A beautiful pass from the ever so chic Kate Wyver led to a soft backwards quick from Nordal only for Anna ‘TAKE THAT’ Linton to slam the ball down before Swansea warriors could say ‘uncle’. The set was drawing to a close, and the ever so fabulous Kate Wyver was beginning to get frustrated at the net getting in the way of her steam release of emotions, but with a tiny pep talk from Jalayna ‘Does She Ever Stop Talking?’ Szepesi and a beautiful set ball from Cheryl “Sets on the Beach” Nordal, the delicious contact was made, and Wyver caned the ball of the century, leaving everyone in the awe of the absolute stunning attack and the massive divot in the wooden floor. The Bristol ladies won the third set 25-13 on a missed serve, but hey? A win is a win right?

Player of the Match: This week’s player of the match goes out to the incredible Karoline “Captain Hook” Drønnen for stepping up to the new role of setter. Although she may have been out of her element and most likely out of rotation, her hard work and determination still remained, allowing her to be a trusted leader on and off the court. You go girl!

Written By: Jalayna Szepesi

Bournemouth Men 2nds vs Bristol Men 1sts (04/11/2015)

Bournemouth Men 2nds vs Bristol Men 1sts (04/11/2015)

On the 4th November the Mens 1st team undertook the journey of a volleyballing lifetime to Bournemouth to play in their latest BUCS match.
Now as we all know the Mens 1sts are currently riding a victory wave that refuses to break, however Bournemouth presented a new challenge. For it was 19 months ago that the Men last lost a BUCS game, and who was that against? Bournemouth. The very team they would face on this fateful day.

Like a student whose housemate had finished the last of their ketchup, Bristol were out for revenge. And so it was that at 11am on the miserable Wednesday morning that it was, the men assembled, swapped anecdotes about the weather and climbed into the convoy of cars that were to be driven by John ‘Jesus take the wheel’ House and Rob ‘Van Man’ Pennifold. With legroom about as available as Rob himself (he’s in a wonderfully sturdy relationship, our congratulations to him for that. For more information on that tune into this weeks Webster and House radio show. Okay plug done), the journey was a series of uncomfortable twists and turns that left the majority of the squad with considerable cramp and in Jacob ‘ping’ Webster’s case the effect on his hamstrings was a major fear for all who saw him wince at every bump. Special shout out to Justin ‘Team Rocket’ Hui who’s entire journey and frankly entire day was ruined when he realised he had forgotten his Pokemon pillow. Nightmare.

Perhaps the greatest moment of the day however came in a discussion about hair in the House Wagon, where Coach Matteo agreed that if the men were to win the league he would dye his hair a glorious shade of blonde after the final game. Men, if you ever needed more inspiration, there it is.

The men arrived in good time, of course they did, John ‘Militant Time Keeping’ House was in charge. They got changed and went in to the sports hall only to discover that the ceiling height was not dissimilar to that of an underground dungeon. Actually can you get dungeons that aren’t underground? Who knows, tweet me and let me know @JohnHouse94. Back to it, the ceiling height was disturbingly low and as was discovered during the warm up, players had to pass with the softest of hands if you wanted to succeed in not catapulting the ball into the rafters.

After said warm up the game got underway. Bristol started poorly to be completely honest and were 10-6 down at the first time out. However after Justin ‘Blastoise’ Hui began to find that passing groove the men were able to show their superiority in hitting and gain the points back. At 21-21 the first set was evenly poised, but with Craig ‘Donny Osmond’ Tavares-McKoy with ball in hand ready to serve the men were positive that the set was there. As he unleashed his jump serve however they were pleasantly surprised to be gifted the point due to Bournemouth rotation error (an error I should add that Coach Matteo was adamant he had spotted from the beginning). As Craig served again the result was the same. And again. And again. Quite simply Bristol were gifted the set 25-21. Cracking.

With such momentum the men now felt confident in the second set. To say the men fell apart would be an understatement. This was the Berlin Wall coming down, this was a massacre, a horror show. At 18-9 Coach Matteo called the second timeout and gave the hearty Bristolians the dressing down they deserved. Spurred on Bristol got their proverbial faeces together and began to pick away at the Bournemouth lead like the people who arrive last to a buffet, feasting on the scraps, or in this case scrappy Bournemouth play (Gr8 Segway) helped by the absolutely phenomenal serving of Oscar ‘Cannon Arm’ Parsley, who should also be commended for his outstanding movember effort only 5 days in. At 24-22 to Bournemouth however Craig ‘Neil Diamond’ Tavares-McKoy decided that a jump serve was the way forward, launching the ball out of the court with severe ferocity, much to the delight of the Bournemouth number 21 who appeared to have some of the aforementioned faeces in his trousers at the sight of Craig with the ball.

Not to be deterred Bristol were adamant that the third set was to be theirs. Despite having a micro-tantrum half way through the set Jacob ‘Easy Listening’ Webster found his form through the middle scoring a number of key points. Jonny ‘Curly Wurly’ Childs meanwhile found his arm and hit well through the outside. As Bournemouth used both their timeouts early doors they could only stand and watch as Bristol took them apart. John ‘#pumped’ House meanwhile began to construct what can only be described as a sturdy red brick wall between the Bristol side and the Bournemouth side as began to be block every thing the Bournemouth side attempted to hit. You know you’re doing well when Coach Matteo offers you a court-side high five (and I got two #showoff). Having said that I also ‘did a Rob’ and let the ball slip through my hands as I went to set, oh the shame. As the set approached its finality on came super-sub Plinio ‘Indoor voices’ Zanini, who cannoned his first set of the year after his injury break straight into the Bournemouth side before then serving 4 points in a row. What a return, what a hero. Bristol took the set 25-18.

From this point, and with Big Michael Wilsher and his fluorescent shoes on the court, the result of the game became a formality. With Plinio, Craig, Jonny, John and Mike getting in on the hitting act, Rob ‘his post match t shirt is like industrial waste’ Pennifold was presented with a plethora of options that he used to great effect. House continued to block like there was no tomorrow, whilst Mike executed a very weird but pleasing mini roll shot through the middle that worked like a charm. Bristol quite simply smashed their way through the Bournemouth ranks, taking the set 25-11 and thus the game 3-1.

Special thanks must go to the Webster Family for coming to watch the game. It was a delight to see you, as it always is, and I hope the game was fun to watch through the industrial standard glass that you had to sit behind that cut out all volume from the court. Our thanks again to you.

More thanks must go to Michael Wilsher for getting ready to have a shower after the game very energetically and, thanks to the fact I was sat down taking off my socks, for doing it at eye level. Oh what it must be to have so much body confidence. Also to Jacob Webster for keeping me company on the way home when Coach Matteo visited the land of nod as we drove along the darkest of country roads.

Player of the Match: John House (I should add this is a team vote I’m not just giving it to myself)

The Men remain top of their league, with a game in hand.

The Unbeaten run continues.

Onwards.

Written by: John House

Ladies 2nds vs Gloucestershire 2nds (04/11/2015)

Ladies 2nds vs Gloucestershire 2nds (04/11/2015)

On Wednesday 4th November, the Ladies 2nds took on Gloucester Uni team. After a couple of stumbles against USW and Cardiff Met, the team was determined to make the next match a win. We arrived promptly at SEH, with a slight panic over the number of shirts for the selected players. Pumped and keen to warm up, we couldn’t wait to host our very first home game. Credits to Gloucester for providing some serious beats with an impressive amplifier, putting Milly’s modest speakers to shame. After our lengthy warm up, the team simply could not wait to smash a few balls and get started.

We started off the set confidently, with consistent serving from Monika and Milly and a couple of confused ace celebrations. Not quite the synced-three-smacks-on-the-floor celebration inspired by the ladies 1st team, but we’ll get there eventually. Setting was on point as well as the hits by our hand-canon Camellia, which allowed Bristol to win the 1st set comfortably 25-10. The 2nd set saw a few changes from the initial formation: Monika swapping from outside to setter, while Camellia got substituted for Vera and a surprise to all, the introduction of libero Angela Liu. Bristol let a few point slip due to confusion and a dubious decision from the referee calling Vera out for a serving fault.  Fear not, Milly saved the day with nine consecutive serves and even pushed the boat out by trying out over-hand serving! A result of Club Captain House boot-camp burpies or was it purely match adrenaline? I’ll let you decide. Anyway, Bristol maintained the lead and won the set 25-7. The highlight of the 3rd set was the delight on team captain Zoe’s face after her successful block despite her petite figure. On a final note, Bristol wrapped up the set efficiently, concluding the match 25-12 and 3-0 victory.

This match marks a milestone in the UoB Volleyball Club history, first victory for the ladies 2nds of many more! Well done everyone, let’s see if we can keep this up for our next match against Bath!

Player of the Match: MVP goes to Monika for her consistency all round and bravely taking on the role as setter in a match situation.

Written by: Gaby Cropper

Mens 1sts vs UWE 1sts (28/10/2015)

Mens 1sts vs UWE 1sts (28/10/2015)

On the 28th October the Mens 1sts entertained the University of the West of Englands Mens Volleyball 1st team at the impregnable castle that now is SEH.

The pre match hype was huge. With Club Captain John House’s Tuesday procrastination involving writing a number of arrogant tweets remarking on the unbeaten streak of Bristol against UWE (4 years and counting), the motivation for the team was available for all to see. No one wants to be the team to lose the streak and certainly not for 3 members of the team on wednesday with whom the great adventure began (Throwback to 2k12 John Rob Mike – good Mems boys).

With SEH filling up quicker than a student shower with a poorly cleaned plughole the Men warmed up with perhaps more gusto than usual. Its funny how that extra 10% of effort seems to get put in when there are people watching, particularly other halves, or perhaps people who you took on a first date the night before. But thats just me speculating. Special mention must go at this point to Fergus ‘Casanova’ Shaw and Jacob ‘wasnt expecting that’ Webster for their stellar warm up. Apparently the girls throwing down the ball from above after an errant pass got embarrassing after about the 6th time.

The first set got underway with some good distribution of the ball by Rob ‘Sweaty Betty’ Pennifold finding Jonny ‘Seaworthy’ Childs, Craig ‘Celine Dion’ Tavares McKoy and the middles of House and Webster who coincidentally have a their own radio show of the same name, Wednesdays 9am live on BURST radio (what a smooth and cracking segway that was into the plug). With the connections between setter and hitter stronger than that of a high grade AUX cable the men opened up an early lead which they then proceeded to hold for the entire set. Go us. The first set was won 25-21.

The second set began with a couple of missed points but once the men once again found their stride as they rocketed through the UWE side. Christopher ‘Tomato.’ Sherfield opened up his well rolled and impeccably stretched shoulders to hit nicely helping Bristol to a 25-18 win.

As the set ended the men however were not pleased. The crowd were baying for blood, or more cookies, it was one or the other. The men wanted to raise the atmosphere, they wanted to smash home the win. And smash it they did. The set began with a sumptuous shoot between Pennifold and House, the former who managed to make it the whole game without letting the ball slip between his hands. Top work. Next point saw a massive roof by House again who by this point was at delirious levels of enthusiasm. Sherfield then took over with 5 serves in a row that UWE could not respond to before launching his next float serve into the stratosphere as it cannoned off his palms. House then stepped up again and served 2 identical aces of his own before the delirium took over and he tried to welly one into the UWE side only to fail miserably. With Webster joining the court momentum continued as he executed two middle hits before taking 4 serves himself. This was a massacre, a mauling, an execution of volleyball prowess. Even Webster, one of the perennial poor middle passers of the team let loose an almighty perfect pass that House almost forgot to run for such was his admiration of its majesty. The set was over in a flash, the crowd bouncing, the men unstoppable. 25-9. Thank you very much for coming.

And so the men won 3-0.
And so the run against UWE continues #bullish
And so the mens 19 month unbeaten BUCS streak continues
And so I need to make more cookies, apparently they were good

Thanks to Tim Clifford and Lorena Balan for their refereeing.

Player of the Match: John House

Onwards.

Written by: John House

Ladies 1sts vs UWE 1sts (28/10/2015)

Ladies 1sts vs UWE 1sts (28/10/2015)

On Wednesday 28th of October both of the 1st teams faced their local rival UWE, for the first time since Varsity, in a double home match to the death! (All right it was not that dramatic…). After a wonderful win from the men’s team, the pressure was on the ladies:

The 1st set started with a killer serve from Shatha “Roof” Al-Huneidi, the Kuwaiti/Australian force to be reckoned with; however, Bristol lost the ball quite quickly. Coming back strong with more killer serves from Cheryl “Soft hands” Nordal, the serve fest continued with awesome serves from all the players and UWE was helpless to return any of the balls that came their way. When the ball did come back they were kind enough to pass it right back over as a free ball (such babes). The set ends at 25-9 for Bristol with Al-Huneidi serving a hammer ball with deadly precision that landed on the opposition’s floor.

The 2nd set started off with Bristol losing the 1st point, as you do. However as always we came back stronger with our setter going on a serving spree along with the rest of the players acing every single one of them. Enter Jasmine “It Ain’t No Thang” Zhang, and Patricia “Dominican Setting Storm” Mejia in the 2nd set Bristol dominated with some amazing play. Particularly Anna “Unbreakable Wall” Linton’s block that could be heard all the way over the ocean to the surrounding countries. I don’t think she will ever forget about that one, and its story will be passed down for generations to come. The libero Karoline “Oversized Match Top” Drønnen was also back in play with a wonderful dive, that I will remember for all time (and for the record it felt amazing!). Bristol wins the set at 25-14 with the strangest and confusing lucky ball that I have ever seen, however we powered on to the 3rd set.

In the 3rd and final set Kate “The Great” Wyver started Bristol off with a serve that surpassed the speed of light, and in usual form Bristol lost the ball after the 1st point. Well back on track we saw some amazing serving from all of the players especially Al-Huneidi and Zhang,  as well as Catherine “The Wall” Wright and Jalayna “Tornado” Szepesi. The ball kept coming back on Bristol’s middle blockers, which was a fatal mistake from UWE, where every single middle killed the ball to the ground with a BANG. After a little bit of confusion with the new rotation, Bristol had their last serve by the setting legend Nordal that went swimmingly along with some great clapping and cheering from the crowd. Bristol wins the set and closes the game at 25-12.

Bristol vs UWE

Player of the Match: This one goes out to Jasmine “It ain’t no thang” Zhang for her amazing presence on court,  as well as her steady hitting that went in every time with stealthy accuracy, as well as the killer serves. We will see great things from this one in the future ☺

Big thank you to our coach that keeps us on track, and a special thank you to everyone who showed up and gave us their support. I know it had nothing to do with the cookies (we don’t bribe people or anything…), and you all just wanted to experience some 1st class volleyball ☺ Special shout out to the loud piratelike cheering from Jacob Webster as well. We really appreciate everyone being there even if it was a “snorefest”, as stated by the one and only club captain John House.

Next week Bristol travels across borders to go to Wales and take on Swansea, which will be an exciting and thrilling experience I am sure. Sans the cookies unfortunately.

Written by: Karoline Drønnen

Mens 2nds vs Bristol VC & City of Bristol (24/10/2015)

Mens 2nds vs Bristol VC & City of Bristol (24/10/2015)

This is a (unusual) two part report from Men’s 2nd B&DVA matches against Bristol VC and City of Bristol on Oct 24th, 2015.

“So this is the city of Bristol” (we were playing against City of Bristol VC) remarked Matt as we arrived at the most-random place ever – imagine countryside and roads which only a Smart car would fit. The day started with a comprehensive briefing in the changing room with Felipe – he covered all aspects of the game and repeated several times that he wouldn’t tolerate serving faults. As the skies turn grey and cold, the atmosphere in the changing room similarly became less jovial as we were told that both teams that we will be playing today were top in the league and the matches could possibly be the toughest we’ll ever face this season. Nevertheless, we valiantly stepped on to the court and began our warmup.

True to the wise words of Felipe and Tim, our opponents’ warm-up exercises were as intense as the US presidential debates on CNN and some would argue that we were target practice for their spiking warm-up. Even though the 6 of us haven’t played together as a team, we were still encouraged on by our ever positive captain Felipe.
In the first set, we were let down by basic errors such as serving faults, ball holding and net touches. But true to the Bristol University spirit (my heart goes out to the Bristol Basketball team), we remained defiant and withstood the onslaught by playing some pretty neat 3-touches. I must say our defences held up pretty well. We lost the game 8 to 25.

In the second set Bristol VC and our boys were neck and neck. Up to the 20 points mark, we bravely managed to thwart any attacks by Bristol VC with some good blocking from setter/alternate hitter Chan and middle hitter Angus. We also managed to exploit some gaps in Bristol VC’s defence by cleverly soft-spiking the ball over the block and into space to which it caused much confusion to the Bristol VC’s backline. However, Bristol VC did then surge ahead thanks to some well-placed serves. Not to be defeated, we came back and gained 3-points consecutively through 2 service ace and a clever spike from Claudio. Our 2nd set was definitely much better and composed (improved passing by our backline to the front hitters). However, just like Scotland, in the match against Australia, it was not meant to be as Bristol VC eventually won the set with the score of 25-20.

Part 1 written by Warren Yick

The following game, against City of Bristol, proved to be hardest one we faced so far. Tough start for Matt and Luke, as it was their first game. But, despite of the opponent high level, the new players incorporate the team spirit and played their best! In the first set we hold the score the best we could, but it finished at 25 x 16 to City. The second set was harder, as everyone seemed a bit exhausted and City brought it to a high standard of Volleyball, with quick hits from middle and second balls, to which our blocks and covers were not ready to defend. City ended the match at 25 x 9.

It was a difficult day for the Men’s 2nd, both Volleyball and weather related. Nevertheless, the team played their best and I think we are improving every match. Better days will come for us!

Part 2 written by Felipe Sales de Freitas

To be continued….

Mens2ndB&DVA24Oct2015

Cardiff Met Ladies’ 1sts vs Bristol Ladies’ 2nds (21/10/2015)

Cardiff Met Ladies’ 1sts vs Bristol Ladies’ 2nds (21/10/2015)

With a much smaller team compared to last week the ladies second team set off for another, dare I say, international BUCS match in Wales. We were feeling slightly saddened by the fact that some team members have forgotten about their priorities and decided that they came to university to actually get a degree and not for volleyball. Hattie ‘if they break up, I’ll be there… waiting’ Freer-Smith lightened the mood of the journey by giving out free snacks.

On arrival we were first teased by what seemed like a London 2012 Olympic standard sports hall (it even has an indoor cycling tracks), which someone even described as a ‘baby version of a hippodrome’. However, our dreams were crushed just like Leonardo Di Caprio’s chances for ever getting an Oscar and we were quickly shooed away. Back in the place where we belong we found out that our teams were actually overly organised and arrived an hour early which meant that we were able to bond with the men’s seconds, finding out vital information such as Marcus’ peculiar dislike for fish, yet love for sushi. I bet you’re glad you know that now.

Watching the men heroically win their match was very #inspirational. Special mention goes to Felipe whose comical gestures motivated numerous twitter and instagram posts. If you haven’t seen the video on twitter I highly recommend you go check it out right now.

Having misplaced the notes that people kindly took for me, I now have to try and remember everything on the go, so please bear with me. Our match started out as well as the end of Titanic with us loosing the first 5 or 8 points in the matter of minutes to the number 6 server who would given Sam Groth a run for his money ((he holds the fastest serve in tennis at 163.7mp/h)(fun fact of the day)), which forced Tim ‘try and find the rhythm’ to call an embarrassingly early time out. This obviously worked as the server finally got broken and some delicious sets were made by Charlotte and Zoe, which allowed everyone to show of some sly hits. Bristol took the first set.

Spirits were high going into set two and due to Camellia’s beautifully consistent serving an early lead was taken. However, being overly confident definitely didn’t suit our team with numerous carless mistakes happening left, right and centre. Maria ‘for all occasions’ Klonhammer was brought onto the court to try and help the situation but sadly it wasn’t enough with the set finishing with a Cardiff Met win.

After being grounded by the second set and an encouraging talk from Zoe ‘happy to penetrate’ Holt the mighty maroons were back in business. Hattie’s blocking and Milly’s serving were the highlights of the set with both of them being as devious as Joaquin Guzman escaping from Mexican prison.

Nevertheless, luck was not everyone side and in Charlotte’s case the ceiling was actually the limit, with points being lost because of the sheer power of her digs and it would be recommend that she spends less time in the gym.

To be honest, I don’t remember much about the last set apart from some gorgeously hard hits from Camellia and Gabby ‘I’m on tinder’ Cropper and the number 6 finally messing up her serve. Sadly it wasn’t enough and the game finished 3-1 to Cardiff Met.

So it is now 2-0 to Wales. Third time lucky though?

Player of the Match: Dasha Selivanenko (I hope it is not because I agreed to write this match report)

Written by: Dasha Selivanenko

xo

Cardiff Met Mens 1sts vs Bristol Mens 2nds (21/10/2015)

Cardiff Met Mens 1sts vs Bristol Mens 2nds (21/10/2015)

After making their BUCS debut in fine fashion a week earlier, the Men’s 2nd team were back in South Wales for their 3rd match in 2 weeks. This time the team was up against Cardiff Met, and although full of confidence from their 3-1 win over the University of South Wales, they could not take anything for granted.

With a bus journey that is becoming very familiar with the 2nd team awaiting, Marcus Clifford’s very questionable clothing choice for the rain outside and Felipe Sales being meticulously organised, there was a very strong sense of Deja vu around. Entertainment was again provided by Marcus; describing all too vividly a massage which ‘almost had a happy ending’ he experienced during his long weekend in China (yes, you read correctly), to which Tim Clifford replied ‘your idea of a happy ending would be having the prime numbers whispered into your ear’.

After some confusion, the 2nds were lead to a sports hall reminiscent of our school days. It was barley big enough to house a Greek’s dinner party, and barely high enough to accommodate Rob Evans, let alone host a volleyball match. Some adapting was necessary.

Again, in this prolonged sense of deja vu, the first set fell through the 2nd’s fingers as it did the previous week. After an encouraging start, nerves kicked in and passing became lackadaisical and hitting was off the mark.  After losing 25-16, memories of the week before meant they knew this match was far from over. Through the wise words from Tim and the experience of Nigel Chan stepping in very capably for the absent Mike Avery, the 2nds raced to a 15-25 victory in the second set with some amazing serving by Marcus and Simos Koutsoftides.

The third set was a tighter affair. They often relied on the deafening support from the women’s team. But after some amazing points towards the end of the set which saw one incredible diving pick up by Kenji Capannelli the team was buoyed by a 19-25 victory in the third set.

Cardiff Met managed to rally their team for a very nervous 4th set. Bristol 2nd’s were always chasing the set, never fully recovering from going down 9-4 early on. It was littered with serving errors, and there were many digs which went astray or hit the ceiling; Nigel doing wonderfully chasing and setting what he could. A last great push saw Bristol 22-23 up, but eventually fell to a 25-23 defeat.

Bristol fell behind early on again in the 5th. Cardiff Met with all the momentum, Bristol refused to give in. Marcus held his nerve and served them back into the lead. The team, finally ahead again after long last found a second wind, and through the undying support of the Women’s 2nd Team managed to hold on for a 11-15 victory, to raucous jubilation, and whole hearted commiserations to Cardiff Met. So there was a happy ending after all. #happyending #theceilingsthelimit #primenumbers #undefeated

Player of the Match: Marcus Clifford.

BUCSMens2_MatchReport_Oct21st

Written by: Dom Minton

Ladies 1sts vs Exeter 1sts (21/10/2015)

Ladies 1sts vs Exeter 1sts (21/10/2015)

On Wednesday, 21st of October, Ladies 1sts faced Exeter 1sts, former Premier League team, on their first home match of the season.

First set began with confident hits from 4 and 2 from Jalayna ‘Hurricane’ Szepesi (nickname inspired by coach Lorenzo) and Lorena Bălan, as well as great passes from the now fully recovered libero and Alpha Captain, Karoline Drønnen. Maintaining a steady rhythm thanks to Cheryl Nordal’s never-failing setting skills, the ladies win the set with a score of 25-22.

With more double touches being called out than in a crowded, dodgy Eastern European nightclub (and believe me, I would know), the frustration levels were rising in the second set. Finally, in a furious release of energy, Bălan manages to shoot an attack from 4, hitting Lorenzo’s favourite target – corner along the line -, never to be returned by the Exeter team. Proud is not a strong enough word to describe my feelings about that shot. It’s borderline narcissistic. My grandchildren will know about that hit. But anyway, moving on from my shameless bragging and on to more relevant stuff. Despite the efforts of all players (including some strong hits from Sylvia ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Betrosian – again, nickname inspired by the ladies’ coach), Bristol narrowly loses the second set, at the mirrored score of 22-25.

Exeter cunningly succeeded in keeping their momentum from the previous set, gaining a solid lead at the beginning of the third one. Stuck on serve-receive for too many points at a time, Bristol was having trouble finding their feet and covering the court well. Not even Beta Captain’s* inspirational pep talk during timeout, encouraging players to <<be more like ducks>>, managed to get Bristol back up, losing the set to a painful 25-9.

Fourth set saw Catherine Wright back in her powerhouse, playing middle, plus Szepesi in the opposite position again, and again this was the lucky charm. Take that and some imposing blocking and serving thanks to Shatha Al-Huneidi, and you get an amazingly gripping match, keeping everyone on the edge of their seat as Bristol returns to take back the game and win 25-23, pushing the match into a decider.

Final set, as many of the spectators have said, ‘could have gone either way’. Feeling empowered by the great comeback in the previous set, the ladies entered the court with great confidence. The game was incredibly intense, with both teams keeping close to each other, point by point, until change of courts at 8. Then, after a couple of balls slipping through a slightly shaky block and falling short when Bristol was defending too deep, along with a minor distraction with a sweaty ball (thank you John House for graciously wiping it clean in a ‘pregnant lady’ type of stance), the ladies seemed to have lost concentration for the last points. Taking advantage of the situation, Exeter targeted three vulnerable corners in a row and took away the match, leaving Bristol with the biggest desire for revenge in their next encounter.

Thanks to Christopher Sherfield and John House for reffing, and for everyone who came to show their support. You are some beautiful human beings, and the atmosphere was out of this world thanks to you!

Player of the Match: The one and only Cheryl ‘Soft Hands’ Nordal, for being a solid, consistent player game in and game out, finding solutions when no one else could think of a way out. She does not get enough credit as she’d deserve, but we’d be in BIG trouble without her on the team and her beautifully placed sets (& cheeky tips)!

// Special mention to our wonderful, exotic-rooted middle player, Shatha Al-Huneidi, whose serves broke Exeter’s rhythm and allowed us back into the match. Not only that, but the blocks she managed to complete might just make her a suitable candidate for the new ‘ROOF!’ nickname. Well done Shatha, and congratulations on putting Kuwait on the map for many, many of us… //

I’m told I should end the report with ‘Onwards’, but I choose to be a rebel and not do that. *insert abrupt ending here*

Written by: Lorena Bălan

*Beta Captain = Jalayna Szepesi, designated captain on court for all matches, as the Libero is not allowed to fill in the role officially or on any kind of paper trail

Mens 1sts vs Bath 1sts (21/10/2015)

Mens 1sts vs Bath 1sts (21/10/2015)

On the 21st October the Mens 1st got their BUCS season underway with a match against Bath 1st team, who were the current league leaders. I realise given that only one game had been played up until that point that statement is largely redundant, but still, it adds to the hype we can generate around the game. Rather like the fall of the Tsarist regime of Russia however, all tyrannies must come to an end and Bristol were confident they had revolutionaries in their ranks. With such imagery making Mike ‘The Monarchy is the only Drug I need’ Wilsher salivate at the mouth, the men arrived early, or late, in some cases for a brisk warm up.

As has been the case with many of the warm ups delivered by captain Christopher ‘Cream of Mushroom’ Sherfield however, the assigned stretches and tasks not only warmed up some members of the team but wore them down to within an inch of their lives. The sight of 11 sweaty panting men, plus Chris, must have been quite the intimidating imagery for the arriving Bath squad.

With Coach Matteo absent, mother duties fell to captain Sherfield who marshalled the side with great aplomb. Cracking word aplomb. Really rolls off the tongue. Bristol began the set well opening up a lead through the hitting of Craig ‘Whitney Houston dressed by Hugo Boss’ Tavares-McKoy, a man who’s soft voice and calming demeanour has become as much a vital feature of the mens team as Michael ‘Give me 5 minutes’ Wilshers pre-match use of the toilet facilities. Bristol soon began to let themselves down in the serve however, with 8 faults coming from the Bristol side. Incidentally every single one of the faults saw the ball fly long out of the Bath side, a clear side-effect of the intense and vicious gym regime each one of the players clearly puts themselves through. Water Polo watch out, the Mens 1sts will soon be strolling round in dressing gowns at SCORE. After a well timed break was called the men were able to regroup however, and in outrageous scenes, the likes of which have rarely been seen in a Bristol University Volleyball match, didn’t lose their marbles toward the end of a set, instead closing it out with 4 straight points taking a 25-21 first set win.

The second set began with the introduction of Fergus ‘Time Lord’ Shaw and Jacob ‘Ebeneezer Scrooge 24/7’ Webster to the Bristol side. Despite apparently busting his already dodgy tennis knee after only two points, as well as battling the ever growing fear of the state of his hamstrings, which as we all know, could ‘Ping at any moment’, Webster slotted into the Bristol side with the ease of a hot knife through some Sainsburys own brand butter, blocking and hitting with the kind of self assured confidence and calm that he has never been synonymous with. Shaw meanwhile was everywhere on court at once, covering the blocks brilliantly and ensuring Bristol kept the ball alive. Such performances however were overshadowed by the dominance of Sherfield who, fuelled no doubt by his daily pack of bacon, quickly became the bane of the Bath side, who’s frustration at his repeated success was evident for all to see. Indeed, with the rest of the side becoming mere spectators to the combo of Rob ‘Sweaty Betty’ Pennifold and Captain Sherfield, Bristol were able to dominate the set and take a 25-17 win.

The third set saw a shake up on court with Captain Sherfield enacting more changes than a poorly regulated phone playing the pre-drinks playlist. Bristol, perhaps feeling overconfident, allowed a few errors to creep into their game which in true Bristol fashion then became an unstoppable rolling maul which essentially gifted Bath the set victory. Serving was once again at fault, with players from all over the world smashing the ball out of the court.

Spurred on by the dread of a fifth set, and the fact that John ‘Blind Mans Bluff’ House and Michael ‘Big Mike’ Wilsher needed to go to Cabot before the nights festivities, the Men started the fourth set with a steely determination. Craig ‘Manners maketh man’ Tavares-McKoy and Jonny ‘Sir Francis Drake’ Childs both opened up their shoulders to hit majestically whilst the now ever reliable Chris ‘Ministrone’ Sherfield continued his mission to annoy the hell out of the Bath team with his repeated success down the line. At 22-21 to Bristol the set was finely poised, and as Bristol rifled the point home through John ‘Stevie Wonder’ House there was much joy. Such joy however was pierced by the shrill blast of the whistle from the ref as the Bath players protested heartily over some confusion. With the point being replayed, the annoyance levels of House reached their now regular high levels. Perhaps noticing the riled nature of his middle, Rob ‘Early Bath’ Pennifold fed him two consecutively delicious sets that were smashed down into the Bath side. With those two points in the bag and House’s celebrations reaching slightly awkward levels (many raised eyebrows were seen on the balcony), Bristol had the match point. Having spent the entire game hitting superbly it was thus appropriate that the game finished with the libero Justin ‘Textbook Technique’ Hui gently popping a ball back onto the Bath side that gracefully fell into the gap he had quite obviously lined up.

Thus Bristol took the final set 25-21 and the game 3-1. As Captain Sherfield performed a weird jumping shaking celebration, relief was clear for all to see on the faces of all involved.

Player of the Match: Christopher Sherfield

One game in. One win. The men remain unbeaten in BUCS for 19 months. Not too shabby eh.

Our thanks to Lorena Balan and Karoline Dronnen for their top notch refereeing.

Next up for the men in BUCS are local rivals UWE. Haven’t lost to them in 4 years. Won’t start now.
1pm Wednesday, Tyndall Avenue Sports Centre. Be there.

Onwards.

Written by: John House

USW Mens 2nds vs Bristol Mens 2nds (14/10/2015)

USW Mens 2nds vs Bristol Mens 2nds (14/10/2015)

In their own small piece of volleyball history, the Men’s 2nd team made their BUCS debut on the 14th of October, heading off to South Wales to (naturally) play the University of South Wales. Over the past year the team had grown accustomed to early morning trips to some of Bristol’s more far flung (yet no less charming) estates in the B&DVA league, but a first international fixture did nothing to phase them. Marcus ‘Jamiroquai’ Clifford putting the troops at ease with several choice quotes, among them ‘that is a cool bit of scaffolding’ and ‘you can have good bums and bad bums’. Also impossible to ignore was Clifford’s choice of attire, some surely-to-short-for-October shorts, along with a shirt so jazzy it put Louis Armstrong to shame, a pairing heavily critiqued by Rob ‘Ralph Lauren’ Robinson.

After a journey filled with some fairly heated musical debate and having cheered on the Ladies 2nds in their corresponding match, it was time for the team to strut their stuff. The first set started poorly, with the team failing to find any rhythm in the opening exchanges, allowing USW to open up a lead. The scrappy play from Bristol continued and this proved costly, as USW took the first set 25-19, despite a dive by Peiman Moradi that left the bench and coach Tim ‘is he Marcus’ dad?’ Clifford in awe.

Knowing that they could do better, the men stepped back onto the court with a point to prove. A team transformed, they stormed into an unassailable lead. USW were hesitant to hit into some strong blocking, with Mike Avery collecting more tips that the most dashing of waiters. The good play continued unabated, Bristol swiftly wrapping up a 25-10 win to level the match.

Knowing they couldn’t afford to lose focus, the third set continued in much the same vein. Marshalled as ever by Mr Consistency Avery and with some excellent hitting from Simos Koutsoftides, the good play continued, USW  unable to live with the superior skill of their maroon clad counterparts.  This was despite coach Clifford being sent from the hall following some overly exuberant out calls from the sideline. With a good run of serving from Rob ‘dustbinlid hands’ Evans, the team closed out the set with a healthy 25-13 lead.

With a first BUCS win on the horizon, it’s fair to say the team let their game slip a little. An unwelcome return of some of the kind of play seen in the first set allowed USW back into the match, with Bristol eventually teetering on the wrong end of a 23-20 deficit. Heads were down, legs were heavy.  However cometh the hour cometh the man in the form of Koutsoftides, who produced several nice hits from 4 following some calm setting from Avery, allowing Bristol to claw their way back to 23-23. This was tense stuff, but with lungs heaving and brows dripping, the boys in maroon prevailed, sealing the set, the match and a first BUCS victory, 27-25.

First game, first win, long may it continue.

Mens2ndBUCS14Oct

Player of the Match: Rob Evans

Written by: Rob Evans

USW Ladies’ 1sts vs Bristol Ladies’ 2nds (14/10/2015)

USW Ladies’ 1sts vs Bristol Ladies’ 2nds (14/10/2015)

It’s Friday evening and having said I will do the match report by the weekend I am frantically trying to remember what happened- you will have to bear with me as some improvisation may occur along with vast over exaggeration. However, while I sit here with my gleaming fairy lights lighting the room I am thrown back to a time not so long ago on the 14th of October 2015……

Twas 12 o’clock on an autumn day, the leaves had started to depart from their twigs of security and like them we were about to launch ourselves into an unknown world. We arrived at the students Union fresh faced unable to control our eagerness – for that afternoon that would be like no other afternoon, it would follow the morning as it always does but this afternoon was the afternoon of the first BUCS match of our whole lives- the bigg’un, so momentous that even the fall of Rome would struggle to compete in significance. To make the event an even bigger dealio it was international- Wales no less but we have to start somewhere (no offense Zoe). Like grey hounds in the slips we wolfed down our luncheon, we had all brought quite enough food ensuring that by the end of lunch we felt more like Heffalumps that lean greyhounds.

The bus journey convo varied tremendously from Mariam and Milly’s cheerful exclamation they both owned a blue peter badge (I have never been more jealous) to Tim’s ‘quick chats’ at the front of the bus which was like visiting the oval office. For some extraordinary reason platting hair quickly became of the most paramount importance. Having had a recent hair cut as ruthless as one of Stalin’s purges I feared my hair would not be long enough to plat however Princess Leia/ Shrek/ Fiona the genius she is managed the job. By Princess Leia/ Shrek/ Fiona I of course mean Charlie whose hair resembled these two beautiful characters. (Shrek is officially on spell check btw). We arrived with plenty of time to spare so began our warm up in the car park- only the best for the UOB Ladies 2nds. Milly Roper took it upon herself to try and hit as many nice cars as possible, luckily no alarms went off. Captain Zoe and Tim then assembled us ready for the herculean task that lay ahead.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of the match there are a couple of changes I would like to highlight from last year. Firstly new tops which are actually maroon which is Bristol’s colour- who would have known?! Secondly we were able to welcome a couple of new players to our cohort: Maria and Camellia. And thirdly a go-pro had joined our ranks ensuring we could relive the highs and lows again and again- super. Check out YouTube- hopefully there is a song over the top as the commentary from the bench probably gets rather tedious…

Our opponents the University of South Wales looked threatened during the warm up when our mighty hitters pelted balls their way. I don’t quite understand why, but we decided to play with a setter in position 3 as opposed to 2. We were slightly baffled about the reasoning behind this but it worked well none the less.

Set 1, starting team Millie, Captain Zoe, Gaby, Monika, Dasha and Camellia. This set was as close as heat is to fire and it really was a fiery one. With some gorgeous sets from Zoe and Millie the hitters simply skipped to the ball before releasing their inner Spartan sending the ball to the back corners of the court. Around half way Charlie was subbed on and proved her worth setting dem balls nice’n’ high. On the 18th point both Camellia and Dasha collided and threw themselves to the floor in an attempt to receive a cruel hit, their efforts were admired by all. Serving during this set was particularly on point. We put up a mighty good fight and in the last few points it was anyone’s game. Unfortunately we lost the set 24:26. But this minor setback did not allow our hope to wane and we were raring to go again after our little team heart-to-heart.

Set 2: We were still in the game but the other team brought on number 14…. I would use her name but such pleasantries were not exchanged. Either way she had a monster of a hit and somehow the ability to teleport while back court to where ever the ball was. We were acutely aware of this and her presence started to get us down and our cheers fizzled out a bit. Maria was subbed on during this set and played some delightful passes straight to the setter. Unfortunately the presence of no. 14 and her hits set us our confidence off balance and regrettably is reflected in the result of the set 15:25.

Set 3: With Dasha, Camellia and Monika bringing us back up to par with their serves we kicked off this set well, and we were ahead for the first few points. Our blocks improved throughout the game as did our ability to celebrate with confidence. Gaby let loose some mighty hits and Milly’s presence on the back court calmed our passing. In this set I believe we all settled as a team- after all as a group we had either not played together since May or ever at all! We may have lost the last set 25:22 but smiles greeted our defeat as we gave every ounce of effort we had in us and for a first game we were pretty chuffed.

Player of the Match: Camellia for excellent play all round throughout the whole game.

Thank you the UOBVC Men’s 2nds for supporting our game before warming up for their own and to all involved on the fabulous afternoon.

I leave you with the words of Theodore Roosevelt to lift your spirits:

‘Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.’

Written by: Hattie Freer-Smith

Gloucestershire Ladies’ 1sts vs Bristol Ladies’ 1sts (14/10/2015)

Gloucestershire Ladies’ 1sts vs Bristol Ladies’ 1sts (14/10/2015)

This year’s start of the BUCS league matches marked an outing for Ladies’ 1sts team, as they departed promptly on Wednesday morning and headed to Gloucestershire, where they would play an enemy never before seen.

wrong tshirtArriving early, the team had time to relax in the cafeteria and bond over complaining about the new match tops, which were all obviously ordered in ‘Cheryl-size’ (apart from the Libero’s shirt, an exquisite piece of menswear). After an awkward distribution of T-shirts and Karoline ‘Why Is There So Much Paperwork?!’ Drønnen sorting out the final logistics, the ladies hit the court to warm-up.

Due to the terrible news that not only is the libero ineligible to be captain on court (a role which was majestically taken by the new Canadian acquisition, Jalayna Szepesi), but also that the she actually couldn’t play at all on the day, the pressure was on the middle players to cover the back court at the same Norwegian standard that we have grown accustomed to.

The ladies stIMG_1236arted the first set with strong serves from Shatha Al-Huneidi that put the opponents in a pickle and gave Bristol a solid lead. The team seemed to have good chemistry throughout the game, with great covering of the whole court, especially by Abi Wooden, who brilliantly saved some of the most difficult passes from the back line. After multiple powerful hits through 4, courtesy of Szepesi and Sylvia Betrosian, and an impromptu back-court attack from yours truly, Bristol secures the first set at 25-7.

Second set continued with Cheryl Nordal’s usual consistent, precise setting and remarkable, strong jump serves from her compatriot, Jalayna. The Canadian invasion was further supported by the new substitutions, Kate Wyver and Anna Linton, whose blocks and hits hardly ever got a decent reply from the opponent. Highlight of the set however, would have to be Catherine Wright appearing mid-way through, fully geared up in her scrubs, like a true volleyball healer, as she traveled from the land of lambs and calves to the land of net touches and rotation faults. With her impeccable contribution, Bristol takes the set with a score of 25-9.

Third set was the coach’s designated ‘experimentation’ set, with Szepesi moving to play opposite and Wyver shifting to the outside position. The fatal combination resulted in Bristol winning the final set with an unbelievable confidence-shattering score of 25-2.

The match was also an occasion for coach Lorenzo to evaluate and set new goals for this year’s team. Final verdict? Let’s get promoted. Do the Ladies 1sts have what it takes? Follow them on this exciting journey, as they take on former Premier League member, Exeter, next Wednesday.

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Player of the match: Joint title this time – Lorena Bălan and Abi Wooden. I promise I don’t write these reports just to get my name down in this section! We’re a democracy. But anyway, congrats to Abi Wooden, for that superb save of a deep pass, that proved we are still a force to be reckon with, even without our utmost reliable libero & captain. Not only that, but her consistent serve got us a 10 point head start in the third set, prompting Lorenzo to suggest ‘taking it easy’ and to murmur soft prayers to ‘let us play’. Her performance should prompt a change in nickname, to a well-deserving Abi ‘Back-Court Saver’ Wooden. As for the old ‘Net Touch’ – we might be looking at you, Kate?

 

Written by: Lorena Bălan

Mens 1sts vs Bristol VC (Friendly) 14/10/2015

Mens 1sts vs Bristol VC (Friendly) 14/10/2015

On 14th October 14 intrepid Men’s 1st teamers journeyed to Abbeywood School (Immediate shout out to Mike ‘dirty Mike’ Wilsher for leading us on a 22-stop bus journey rather than an equivalent 4-stop train journey which cost half as much #greattreasuring) in the northern realm of Filton to lay siege to the stationed garrison in the form of Bristol volleyball club, a team with plenty of powerful hitters and a solid all-round game. A good final test then, before the boys lock horns with Bath in their BUCS opener on the 21st.

 

Aidan ‘Star-spangled banter’ McKay again brought the pain and pleasure in equal measure for the warm up, pumping beats out of his speaker filthier than a Ukrainian brothel, with drops bigger than Felix Baumgartner’s famous leap of faith – which by the way happened on this date 3 YEARS AGO. Can you believe that? 3 WHOLE YEARS. Just think, many of you won’t have even done your GCSEs when that happened. God I feel old. After a sprinkle of pepper the team were prepared for the searing heat of battle.

 

The pressure that accompanied this absolutely gargantuan, most pivotal friendly match clearly got to our opponents, as they started the first set with a cacophony of errors courtesy of some aggressive serving from Felipe ‘Capri King’ Galindo Sanchez and Rob ‘Sweaty Betty’ Pennifold.  UoB raced away to a 9-2 lead; however as the set progressed the gap gradually closed as the home team settled into their game, in the process laying down some ferocious serves and spikes that were largely greeted with shanked passes. Even inexplicably perennially good passer Justin ‘Gotta catch ‘em all’ Hui couldn’t get his on target. Much volleyball later – some good (alright), some bad (abysmal) – the guests found themselves at 21-23 and with some momentum on serve, but a couple of errors in quick succession clinched the set for BVC 25-23.

 

The battle was lost but the war had just begun, and Coach Matteo saw vengeance in the eyes of his starting six. He made only three changes, slotting in Aidan ‘where’s he from again?’ McKay at libero, and outsides TS ‘Nickname TBD’ Kim and Ron ‘Oscar Parsley’ Jeremy, making his first appearance for the club in a dramatic career switch from the pornographic film industry (wait till you see him). The set couldn’t have started more differently to the first, with a lack of communication between the new outsides on serve receive hanging poor Fergus ‘Headbandit’ Shaw out to dry at the back of the court. This meant that BVC won the first 7 points of the set, a lead the guests were never able to dent. One bright spot in the set however was the play of Jacob ‘carry me home’ Webster, who in a pleasant surprise to the squad had clearly managed to escape the residual grump that usually hangs over him like a lingering reminder that your country has been knocked out of the world cup, or the dull heartache that forever follows you after hearing the crushing news of unrequited love – Credit to you, sir. Thanks largely to Jacob, the men clawed their way back into the set to finish with a respectable 15 points, every player giving serious cause for optimism for the coming season.

 

With the match already lost, Matteo saw fit to unleash the best talent the club has to offer to send a message that they weren’t going down without a fight. Players such as Jonny ‘Rear Admiral’ Childs and Guinness world record holder for world’s most softly spoken man Craig ‘Aretha Franklin’ Tavares-McKoy entered the fray. The effects were felt immediately in the passing game, and, powered by the ever-secure spiking from Mr Consistent Chris ‘French onion’ Sherfield – who did ‘get blokt m8’ once I hasten to add – The team played their best volleyball yet. All despite a considerable distraction in the form of one opponent’s shorts, rather economical in length, that due to their – to put it mildly – ‘fitted’ style, left absolutely nothing to the imagination. Quite frightening. It was a close run contest throughout that due to intimidating blocking from both sides had ‘more tips than a well-waited restaurant’ (House, J. UOBVolleyball. Twitter. 1st edition, 2015.). Of course no game Bristol plays would be complete without a butterfingers moment, and once again Rob ‘sweaty Betty’ Pennifold stepped up to the plate. Déjà vu was felt by all as another near-perfect pass slipped through his hands and hit his sweat-sodden chest, the impact causing the surrounding players – not for the first time, I’m sure – to be lightly doused in his salty bodily fluid. The men dug deep to soldier on through this mild inconvenience and soon reached 24 all, a score line that has all too often been the harbinger of impending pain for club veterans. In somewhat anticlimactic fashion though the students stepped on the gas and won 2 quick points to ensure they finished the fixture going down in a blaze of glory. A happy note to end on. A perfect cadence, you might say. Or actually, given the overall performance, maybe just plagal. Probably just plagal.

 

BUCS looms.

 

Onwards.

 

Written by: Fergus Shaw
Mens 1sts vs Exeter 1sts (Friendly) 11/10/2015

Mens 1sts vs Exeter 1sts (Friendly) 11/10/2015

On the 11th October the Mens 1sts played Exeter 1sts in a friendly at Fortress Tyndall. The first clash between the two sides in many years was a titanic affair, and as with any good old fashioned bout between gentleman, blood (allbeit a very minor amount) was spilt.

 

The men arrived at 9am and were greeted by Oscar ‘720 Ollie’ Parsleys musical choices. Whilst pump up music is a wonderful addition to any warm up, the 9am start meant that some team members enthusiasm did not quite match the lurid thumping of the selected ‘tuneage’. Such thoughts however were overshadowed by the now traditional late appearance of Pawel Laskowski who arrived 15 minutes after everyone else. Arriving in some casual trousers many of the new players on the team expected him no doubt to strip down to shorts once the game began. The stalwarts of the club however knew better and were overjoyed as ever to watch Pawel play the entire game in his loungewear. Despite what must be almost cataclysmic levels of heat on his legs, thanks to the luxurious nature of his cotton wonders, Mr Laskowski must be commended for sticking to his guns, and choosing fashion over suitability.

 

With the warm up over the men got down to the first set. Starting well the set gave members such as TS Kim and Fergus Shaw a chance to show off their hitting prowess, with the latter doing so still sporting his 1980’s headband look that so far has yielded many sideways glances and disapproving nods from the watching crowd. Exeter fought hard and opened up a substantial lead and with just one point needed for victory, looked comfortable at 24-16. It was at this point however that John House decided to use what God had gifted him and attempt to block with his sizeable face. Aiming to power the ball down with the notorious ‘Fivehead’ that graces his child like features, John was unlucky to quite literally watch the ball cannon into his left eye, resulting in him going down like a sack of potatoes. Special mention must go to coach Matteo who’s sympathy for John’s face was clear for all to see as he remarked to the bench that he had told John previously not to block like that so… With the ball unsurprisingly flying out Bristol lost the first set as John ‘Blinded by the Spike’ House stumbled over to the team talk as blood leaked from his now ruined face.

 

Perhaps emboldened and to be honest, greatly amused by the circumstances of the end of the first set the men came out stronger in the second set and matched Exeter point to point up until the score read 19-19. Unfortunately it was at this point that some uncharacteristic errors crept in to Bristols game and despite Felipe ‘3/4’ Galindo Sanchez blowing through the camera in an effort to get the ball back, leaving the tripod with a dodgy knee injury, the hearty Bristol 15 were left to ponder yet another set loss.

 

The third set saw Bristol return to the kit with a new determination to make a good game of it. The captain, Christopher ‘Carrot and Coriander’ Sherfield joined the court, as did the previous days wonder child Craig ‘Shirley Bassey’ Tavares McKoy. With the two of them hitting powerfully through the outside Bristol opened up a healthy lead over their Exeter compatriots. As ever however, coach Matteo was still not 100% pleased and voiced his confusion when a second ball was set by the now half blind John House to setter Nigel Chan who was unable to score a point. Despite protesting that Matteo had to just #believe, it was decided that that particular move would not be featuring in the leather-bound ‘Playbook’ that Matteo has made for the Mens team. With that now firmly behind them Bristol continued to push and took the set 25-19.

 

The fourth set was dominated by a combo meal so delicious it would put KFC to shame. With yet another shake up on court Pawel ‘Leisurewear’ Laskowski found himself at opposite whilst Nigel Chan was at setter. Rolling back the years they became the lethal combination of two years ago that the Exeter side simply could not handle with Laskowski finding the Exeter court time and time again. The set was also witness to one of the greatest nonchalant blocks ever performed by a Bristolian. Matt ‘Baptism by Fire’ Birch, perhaps captivated by the Chinese/Polish show being put on, simply popped up his hands when the Exeter serve came over and casually dropped it down into the Exeter side. Whilst highly against the rules, the block provided some glorious light relief for the watching bench. Matt, I salute you. Anyway, Aidan’d by some superb passing from Aidan (that was a bit of a stretch), Bristol easily won the set for Bristol 25-17.

 

And so it was to the final set, Bristol had clawed it back to 2-2 and there was quite literally everything to play for, although actually there was literally nothing to play for given the friendly nature of the game, but still, its fun to be dramatic. Bristol once more began strongly with Rob ‘Sweaty Betty’ Pennifold setting well to outside and middle. Indeed, despite Mike ‘Big Mike’ Wilsher falling over for absolutely no reason whatsoever, and Rob and Chris ‘Potato and Leek’ Sherfield exchanging some passes in an unconventional manner as they spiked it from side to side, Bristol opened up a 6 point lead. Emboldened by the support of the hearty Bristolians who had come down to watch Bristol pushed on and secured the set 25-22 and thus the game 3-2.

 

With that victory come yet more positives for the now unstoppable train that is the Mens 1st team.

 

Bristol vs Exeter

 

Thanks to Lorena ‘Tech Savvy’ Balan, Cheryl ‘Can I just say one thing’ Nordal, Abi ‘Net Touch’ Wooden and Felipe ‘Golden Oldie’ Sales De Frietas for refereeing and scoring.

 

Our thanks to all the supporters who came down and watched, you were awesome.

 

Onwards.

 

Written by: John House
Men 2nds BDVA Tournament 10/10/2015

Men 2nds BDVA Tournament 10/10/2015

Bristol, 10th of October, 2015.

It is 8:15 AM; the men arrive one by one at the coach station. Their faces are tired, their eyes half closed and by seeing them – eyes blank, hardly walking, not talking but whispering as ghosts – I cannot help thinking about AMC’s The Walking Dead’s zombies. Fortunately, this sleepy atmosphere, between dream and reality, dark and light, bed and breakfast was broken by the huge amount of energy deployed by our captain: Felipe aka “the Duracell rabbit”.
After a short bus ride, the team finally arrived at Orchard School Hall, highly motivated and very excited to play its first two matches at B&DVA local league against Bemi VC and Cheddar VC, despite the fact the men only had the opportunity to train together once.
During the first match against Bemi VC, the men proved their passion and their will to win, giving up their body diving desperately but successfully on the floor to save the ball. Even if they lost by 2-0 (25 x 15; 25 x 21) against the experienced Bemi, their proved they deserved their place in the team and with training and team building, they will, for sure, do great performances in the future.
The second match, against Cheddar VC, follow the same pattern and finished with the same score of 2-0 (25 x 15; 25 x 13), caused by some mistakes, justified by the low common experience of the team. However with the same level of passion and will from the guys on court.

The attitude of the men, their passion and their individual qualities as players, but also as men are the reasons why we think this team can become amazing. Moreover, both the coach (Tim) and the captain were very impressed by such a good level for a first match considering the context. With trainings, experience and your support, this team can really improve and reach a great level of Volleyball.

PS.: After the matches and because of a bad set (my apologies), Ralph Bernardo unfortunately hit the pole, which responded by giving him a low kick, hurting by the way his ankle. We wish him a prompt recovery and hope he will be back in the game soon.

To be continued…

Mens2nd matchreport Oct10

Written by: Florian Potier

Mens 1st vs Horfield Hornets and City of Bristol VC 10/10/2015

Mens 1st vs Horfield Hornets and City of Bristol VC 10/10/2015

On the 10th of October the Mens 1st team got their season underway with two games in the local B&DVA league.

 

The men were delighted with the slightly later start afforded to them with an 11.30am start. Travelling to the game, Felipe was introduced to English 00’s culture wonderfully through the choice of music from Michael Wilsher, who bounced along in the car along to Basshunter and Cascada. Top work Wilsher.

 

With debuts flying in from new signings such as Craig ‘Songbird of a generation’ Tavares-McKoy, Aidan ‘International man of mystery’ McKay, Matt Birch and Felipe Galindo Sanchez, as well as Captain Chris ‘Soup’ Sherfield’s first outing the team was a far cry from the Canadian dominated team of former years.

 

The team however put any fears to Monday night Bunker i.e. BED (see what I did there) however with a strong performance in the first game against Horfield. Despite already being as damp as a poorly managed student house, Rob ‘Sweaty Betty’ Pennifold came out all guns blazing with some strong sets to 4 and 2 which were ably dispatched by Chris Sherfield, Jonny Childs and Craig Tavares-McKoy. Indeed the set was a rather simple affair, with Bristol opening up a large lead from the very beginning which was maintained throughout, leaving the men with a 25-11 victory.

 

Perhaps emboldened by this early success, Bristol started the second set poorly with some simple mistakes creeping into their game. Rob continued to find 4 and 2 as easily as he finds a seat on public transport thanks to his advancing years, however the middles in the form of Michael Wilsher and John ‘Drunk on power’ House struggled a little with the new setter. As the set continued and Bristol focussed up the middles began to get more into the game, with Michael getting as high as he does at his shirtless raves to hit the ball powerfully into the Horfield side. This was also the moment for Craig to unfurl a previously unseen jump serve, leaving the bench particularly impressed with the casual nature of his celebrations afterwards. As the team came together well they buried any Horfield hopes with some great all round play coming away as 25-19 winners and thus winning the game 2-0.

 

The men had no time to breathe as they were straight back on court for their second game against the City of Bristol Volleyball Club. With tensions already high during the warm up thanks to some dubious line hitting, the men were keen to start well against COB’s strong side.

 

The men however were to let themselves down slightly through their serving in the first set. Despite coach Matteo’’s efforts to get the men to serve ‘Little by little’ at the COB’s weak libero, the men simply couldn’t maintain the ‘wonderwall’ of consistent serves and were hampered by four missed serves in a row. Special mention to Matteo for not ‘looking back in anger’ despite these mistakes even though he was clearly ‘crying his heart out’ on the inside. Side note – Matteo really hates Oasis. Thats a joke thats going to really ‘Live forever’. Okay I’m done now. Moving on.
Outside of the serving mistakes the Mens team should be commended for playing well against a strong team, losing the set 25-19.

 

The second set was a similar affair with Bristol allowing COB to open up an early lead that they then couldn’t overturn. The Men however fought hard throughout with Chris ‘Sharapova’ Sherfield in particular beginning to release unearthly noises as he spiked the ball down, such was the degree of effort he was putting in. Fergus also saw fit to unfurl a rather unconventional spike as he completely mistimed everything about his approach, however as the ball gracefully found the floor of the COB side there was an outpouring of love for his audacity. Meanwhile Rob finally succumbed to the sweat which plagues his volleyball career, as a perfect pass from Jonny crashed down between his hands, simultaneously causing groans from the bench as well as giving the ball an early bath. The set ended in almost farcical fashion with a call from the referee that was beyond belief. Or at least that certainly remains to be John ‘Anger counselling required’ House’s opinion, an opinion that the entire hall was made very aware of. Rocked by such a display of raw, manly passion the men lost the final point and consequently the set 25-20 and the game 2-0.

 

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Despite the loss in the second game however the men remain confident for the season ahead with the glimpses of brilliance that were on display filling all hearts and minds with joy.

 

Onwards

 

Written by: John House
Bristol University Volleyball does Les Parisiennes 2015

Bristol University Volleyball does Les Parisiennes 2015

Tour Report

Sit down with John House and Jacob Webster and relive the weekend of a lifetime.

JH: When I realised it was time to leave on Thursday morning, thanks to the sensation of Fergus seductively prodding my leg, I could not have anticipated the joy of the adventure upon which I was about to embark. As I grabbed my bag the eerie silence of Bristol at 3am was pierced by one Michael Wilsher who, wearing only a dressing gown, thundered around the house in a sleepy haze having failed to set an alarm or indeed more importantly pack, and was now thus vastly behind. Taking the good old mantra of ‘no man left behind’, Fergus and I promptly left Mike behind and took to the streets to walk down to the coach station. Picking up Messrs Pennifold and Webster on the way, we quickly lost Fergus as he realised he hadn’t brought his passport, largely due to the preoccupation he had taken with trying on a variety of chinos for the bus journey (he eventually settled for a solid beige pair teamed with a green hoodie – a solid middle class choice). Arriving at the bus station we were met with a varied number of attitudes, those who had managed to get a couple of hours sleep were largely looking tired and grumpy, whilst those of us who had not slept were remarkably upbeat, described at the time by yours truly as a feeling of ‘almost homicidal calm’.

JW: Ah yes Fergus – the gift that just kept on giving. Right from the outset, he was something else. First morning, 3am. Bus at 3.50am. You’d think he’d have packed everything the morning before right? Wrong. Having tried to do a last minute wash, he concentrated more on the disaster of having to pack damp clothes than on remembering to grab his passport. Cue a mad dash through the silent streets of Bristol, with me giving him directions over the phone, including “Turn left at the drug dealer and then right at the drug-dealer’s mates”. It’s alright though, he made it. Hurrah.

JH: The bus journey to London was largely uneventful, some people slept, others had people sleep on them, others stayed awake and loudly commented on whether other people were sleeping or not. The stop of at London meanwhile allowed for a quick food break, one which Mr Plinio ‘made the Paris Metro his bitch’ Zanini made full use of, acquiring a weekends supply worth of muffins which he then promptly worked his way through half of in quick time. Having safely loaded on to the next coach many people returned to the land of slumber.

JW: Chris and Cheryl went for the nawwwwwwww factor, sharing pillows, blankets, bodies – everything. Mike went for the head in the air, mouth wide open. Emily folded herself around people. The best sleeping technique, however, was adopted by Oscar, in which he, quite literally, buried his face into the lap of Minodora. I don’t want to use the word ‘nuzzling’, but you get the picture. James Throup , meanwhile, got prime positioning at the back of the bus, next to a couple who he later confirmed were “seriously boring” and “not very bright”.

JH: Special mention must go to Kirsty Maund for wearing her delightful pink pyjamas for the whole trip. The bus journey was long, helped by Webster and Shaw’s patent pending game of ‘guess what number I’m thinking of’, my own invention of ‘how many vowels in this sentence’ and a good old game of consequences.

JH: Having arrived in Paris the hearty team were helped with their navigation of the Paris metro by one of the organisers, a young lady by the name of Laure, whom Big Mike would later claim was one of a number of French girls who ‘had a thing for him’. Unfortunately for Mike and Celestine, getting on a train proved too difficult a task, and there was much amusement to be had as the train pulled away from Big Mike’s traditional confused and scared expression.

 

JW: Well, ‘Best friends’ Mike and Celly had clearly decided that they were too exclusive for the rest of the club, what with the level of their friendship. No matter, we thought, they’ll be along very soon. 5 minutes later, nothing. 10 minutes, and still no sign of the bezzie twosome. 15 minutes later, and at long last the two of them sheepishly exited a train, back to join their loving comrades, safe and sound in the arms of us all. Celly, obviously not happy with the fact that she was now having to share Mike with the rest of us, promptly tried to cross busy junctions on a red light, with cars not exactly going slowly. Twice. I certainly had my heart in my mouth.

JH: The hotel was a fine establishment, not quite as nice as a premier inn, but certainly better than one hotel we found that was simply labelled ‘cheap beds’ or ‘cea eds’ because of the lack of lighting to a number of letters. The rooms were comically small, with 3 people crammed into a double bed with a bunk above it.

JW: Hotel F1 is not known for being especially salubrious. Draw in your mind an image of somewhere you might go for a dirty rendezvous, when the person you are taking there isn’t someone you’re willing to spend much money on, and you’re more or less looking at a room. Views varied between a building site and the piece de resistance – the Peripherique. Like having the M25 just outside your bedroom window.

JH: It was decreed that the first evening would be a ‘gentle one’, thus we decided to go and find an establishment for some dinner. The restaurant we found was wonderful, the Burger I had was phenomenal, whilst I’m assured the variety of other dishes chosen were also delicious. Unfortunately, the deliciousness of the food was reflected in the price of the establishment. I don’t think anyone on our table will forget the look on James Throup’s face when he was informed the beer he had ordered was going to cost him 8 euros and 60 cents. He consequently decided that dinner for him that evening was going to be a solitary beer with a side of water, the staple of a good diet. Shaw and Webster meanwhile, ever the entertainers, decided that consuming a pot of mustard as a starter was a good idea, much to the disgust of the only lady on our table, Miss Weegenaar.

JH: Having finished our dinner it was decided that a visit to the Sacre Coeur was in order, and what a fantastic decision it was. The building was fantastic and presented everyone with a wonderful view of Paris. This view was perhaps dampened by the industrial strength laser one local Parisian was firing on to buildings, but nonetheless it was truly a breath-taking building and view which everyone appreciated.

JW: Oh yeah, the view out over the city at midnight from the Sacre Coeur was something else, only added to by the sound of ‘Story of My Life’ coming from nearby.

JH: After a healthy night’s sleep it was down to the sports centre for the first day of Volleyball.  The Men were playing first against local hosts Les Sciences Po.

JW: Entirely new warm-up routines were dreamt up, the pinnacle of which was the mincing speed walk that the boys performed around the outside of the court, prancing, twirling and spinning like something out of Alan Carr’s wet dream. The only thing camper than the gyratingly jarring men was absolutely nothing. It was the limit of camp, the upper threshold. And it was just fabulous, fabulous darling!

JH: Having discarded the overly inflated volleyball presented that felt like digging a brick, the men were underway opening up a nice lead in the first set thanks to the ever present spiking of Pawel Laskowski. Having won the first set the men then promptly fought hard but lost the second before entering the third. The set was tense with all timeouts used and both teams taking the lead at different points, however with Zanini killing the ball through opposite the men took the victory 2-1. The ladies were up next, coached by two of Snow Whites seven dwarves in the form of Pennifold and Sherfield (cue singing of ‘They’ve got a combined age of 64!’ to the Beatles song, ‘When I’m 64’). They played well against a strong side, with Federica Cimatti proving herself a handful for the other team. Despite their good efforts however the girls were unfortunate to take a 2-0 defeat. Next up were the men again who played LSE, a team with a number of strong hitters. Having taken quite a drubbing in the first set, the men really stepped it up in the second with everyone playing to the best of their ability, taking a 15-3 lead by the second time out. Despite letting LSE back into it slightly the men still comfortably took the second set. The third set was a more tricky affair however and LSE managed to win, however the men had still qualified for the Semi final and thus weren’t particularly bothered to be completely honest.

JH: The Ladies then had two more matches to contend with, during the first the ladies played well with Celestine Weegenaar benefitting from a pre-match empowering speech from House and hitting superbly through the outside. Despite Nordal’s excellent setting however the ladies seemed to have lady luck against them, as time after time the ball rolled off the net onto the Bristol side. With the Gods against them, the ladies took an unfortunate loss. Their final game of the day heralded the return of captain Ellie Harrison, fresh from her flight. Buoyed by her arrival the girls had a great game…I assume…I have no idea because I succumbed to my tiredness and fell asleep courtside and missed the game, sorry ladies.

JW: I can confirm that they did.

JW: Seeing Catherine and Abi running fantastic middle plays, just as were set out in time-outs, was a gratifying experience. Team talks were given in such a stirring way by some of the guys that the girls returned to the court a teary mess, fists clenched and hearts pumping. Everyone contributed to the causes of the two teams – from Minodora coming on to swing through from outside, and Kirsty putting in a couple of mighty blocks, to Emily bouncing around even more than Karoline does in the libero position. Some of the chants emanating from the sidelines were inspired: “Come on Gaby, lets Crop this losing deficit”, “Here we go Plinio, nice clinio hit please” and the ubiquitous “Sweet Karoline, der der der” were just some of my own personal favourites.

JW: One of the sounds that it is simply impossible to forget was the sound of Lara’s body slapping the court every time she went for a dive – be it her arm, her hand, her knee or her face, the noise echoed around the hall like a gunshot (or one of Fede’s massive spikes). Unlike a bullet wound, however, Lara’s repeated impacts did not deter her and she continued to put her body on the line, again and again.

JH: With the days volleyball over the gang of hearty volleyball warriors returned to the hotel to shower and prepare for the first night out. Having moved, because of logistical reasons to a different room with Miss Weeganaar, I was discarded in only my underwear out of the room whilst she got changed and thus found myself wandering the corridors, gaining a number of both admiring and horrified looks from passers-by. It was at this point that I first heard rumours of a mishap that had happened to Mr Fergus Shaw. His towel was by no means one for the entire body, and was also a wonderfully shiny state of white. It was therefore noted by Mr Webster upon his return from the shower that there was an unfortunate looking stain or ‘skid’ to use a more adept word, marking the whiteness of his drying implement. With the chant of ‘he shat on his towel’ echoing through the Parisian night, the teams headed out for the first evening’s entertainment.

JH: With Oscar maintaining he knew the way all 25 of us headed along a street for about 10 minutes, before performing an about turn and walking back the other way for about 11 minutes and finding the club. On the way I personally accepted a lovely offer of some beer from Miss Harrison, a beer, because of my lack of concentration, I then promptly gave to a homeless woman who approached me (soz Ellie). The dynamic duo of Fede and Lara meanwhile had located a plastic vibrantly pink phone which they proceeded to protect for the whole evening, all the while making fake phone calls to goodness knows who whilst sprinting up and down the street. Each to their own I suppose. The club itself was beyond warm, imagine going to Lounge in full ski gear, whilst the prices of Jaegerbombs in comparison to everything else left little else as a drinkable option. With Big Mike bopping away on the dancefloor all seemed to be going well, until Fede loudly exclaimed she had lost her phone. Having opened her bag, the phone was found to be exactly where she had left it (right in the middle) and she returned to the dancefloor. The last train was at 2.30am and thus a number of hearty volleyballers decided to call it an evening, stopping on the way back for Pennifold to consume a sausage (make of this what you will). This however was too early for Sherfield, Nordal and Laskowski who stayed out until the early hours, during which time they arguably saved a man’s life whom they found bleeding on the street – there literally is nothing Bristol Volleyballers can’t do.

JW: Later that night, Celestine, deciding that enough was enough, made it clear that she was going to bed, where she was lovingly tucked in by Messrs House and Webster, who then returned to the task of making sure everyone else was alright and ready for the morning’s volleyball. Upon completion of their duties, they returned to the room, all set for bed. Confusion reigned, however, as the door opened to reveal Celly in the wrong bed, and Mike lying on the top bunk, bathed in a heady combination of anger and righteous indignation, right leg seductively resting on the metal rail. “Don’t be a dick, John”, he drawled, as his friend attempted to come to terms with the remarkable change in circumstances that had brought the big Northerner into such a situation. Celly, meanwhile, cocooned on the double bed, seemed to have developed a new octave for her voice to operate in, which she used repeatedly to implore Jacob and John to leave her and her ‘best friend’ alone, as at least ‘he let her sleep’, which they both had been doing for ‘houuuurs’ (approx. 14 minutes.). Eventually, Mike was removed, but there was no stopping the stubborn Dutchwoman, who, cottoning on to and warming to the idea of her own irrationality, obdurately refused to go anywhere other than the floor, where she decided to enjoy the substantial comfort of Jacob’s feet as a pillow.

JH: I have to say that sharing a bed with Mr Webster was quite an experience. Supposedly at one point Mr Webster awoke to find his and my face uncomfortably close to each other, whilst at another I myself woke to find Jacob backing up along the bed into my warm spooning embrace. Quite the event to wake up to. It was a delight.

JW: Safe to say that the feeling was entirely mutual.

JH: As the sun’s rays pierced the window we woke on Saturday morning to Kirsty and Karoline asking whether anyone knew of Miss Nordal’s whereabouts, unaware that due to the previous evenings events she had chosen to stay with Pennifold, Sherfield and Laskowski. A brave decision. As Nordal was located she proceeded to embark on what can only be described as a ‘sprint of shame’, launching herself down the corridor at significant pace. Danielle Simpson meanwhile was found in Mr Shaw’s room having chosen to sleep in his blue chino shorts and daringly yellow t shirt – quite literally a sight for sore eyes.

JW: Walking around Paris was dreamy, with balmy sunshine and jumpers well and truly off. Photos aplenty were taken, whilst Abi was successfully persuaded that the wreckage of a newly-crashed Smart Car was, in fact, the carefully preserved shell of the car in which Princess Diana was killed, maintained as some kind of a memorial. Hopefully that isn’t offensive to anyone – particularly Daily Mail readers. Ooops.

JH: The Eiffel Tower was particularly delightful, although I wish I wasn’t covered in mud from my salmon-dive, and the members of the club duly recognised the magnificence of said tower with what can only be described as an cacophony of selfie’s.

JW: We can’t go without a mention of Nicole, the widely-acclaimed Queen of the Selfie. Nicole, you fill all of us with so much happiness when you go for one of them, and, to be fair to you, they always look a hell of a lot better than the chinny, slightly sneering, jaws clamped with concentration efforts managed by Michael and I. Another photo highlight was one involving the superb quartet of Wright, Weegenaar, Wooden, Maund demonstrating the rarely-seen ‘4-person backcourt block’, while liberos Drønnen and Daykin stayed firmly in the front-court. Not sure if it will catch on.

JH: The return to the sports centre saw the return to volleyball. Having lost Pawel and Throup somewhere on the Metro the men began their Semi Final against Polytechnique a couple of men down. This however was not to stop them and the first set was a great triumph with Kevin Bonnot hitting nicely and Rob Pennifold performing the unfamiliar role of Libero perfectly. Having won the first set comfortably the men seemed on course for a place in the final. Indeed with Big Mike having an absolute stormer of a game, his shoots with Chris being a particular highlight, the men had good breathing space at 24-17 to take the win. It was at this point however that the ‘Great Choke of 2015’ was to take place. The men could simply not buy a point, with a number of players, including yours truly making mistakes that cost points and gifted Polytechnique the game. After such a hit to morale, the final set saw an inevitable loss, much to everyone’s disappointment.

After the game many reasons were given for such a defeat, including ‘John’s too fat to jump’ ‘Mike hasn’t had gravy all weekend’ and ‘Rob saw some crisps on the sideline and got distracted’, however Miss Weegenaar placed the blame solely at the feet of the line judge. Who rather than line judging, had spent the entire game on her phone in a heinous display of refereeing, a fact she was loudly reminded by the aforementioned Dutchwoman who went all grown up on her ass (clicks fingers sassily).

JH: Having wiped away the metaphorical tears and dusted themselves off the men had their final game, the 3rd place play off against TCD. Looking to enjoy it, every man had a wonderful game with hits and blocks raining down on the TCD side from all players.

JW: There was another moment provided by the one and only Mr Shaw, in which he took it upon himself to retrieve an errant pass as it flew off the court. As he reached it, however, something changed within the man’s head. Rather than simply raising two arms and sending it back onto court where Setter Chris was waiting, he set his legs and swung a vicious spike straight at Sherfield’s ankles. The look of surprise on everyone’s faces was priceless.

JH: The girls meanwhile ended their tournament on a high note with a wonderful victory that left their opponents, some team from Ireland who’s number 9 Jacob was to become particularly familiar with, reeling (JW: I should note here, as insinuating as that looks, that absolutely nothing happened. It was entirely platonic. I only spoke to her for about 3 minutes, all told). A final note on the Volleyball: It is truly wonderful to play in a squad of such talented people. There can be no doubt that we were the loudest, most enthusiastic bunch of people at the tournament and to see everyone playing their heart out, whether it be Lara showing off her incredible lack of balance or poise, or Fergus choosing to spike it at his own team rather than pass, everyone on the sidelines and court, both male and female, poured their heart and soul out and it was amazing. People talk a lot about being proud of who you play for and I can honestly say, hand on heart, I am proudest when we come together as a club as we did this weekend and show everyone else what Bristol Volleyball is really all about.

JH: The end of the volleyball saw the Bristol team free to party the night away. And party away they did. As with any evening the events become hazy, but I’ll do my best. The night began with a pre-drinks inside one of the hotel rooms. You know it’s a good room to pre-drink in when the people by the door have to leave to let other people squeeze in. The original choice of Pawel, Rob and Chris’ room was swiftly abandoned, assumedly to let Chris finish doing his hair (apparently the nonchalant ‘I just let my hair do its own thing’ is a complete fabrication). Pawel’s choice of Christmas clothing for the evening was of further interest: no-one had the heart to tell him that the time difference between Paris and Bristol is just 1 hour and not 3 months. Having arrived at the club/tent I made the unfortunate mistake of forgetting to stop doing my camp American guy impression when being frisked by the bouncer. Asking him if he was searching for my concealed weapon did not go down well at all.

JW: Getting the tram was fun, yes. Getting to an empty circus warehouse was not so fun. The girls finding themselves being forced to pay for their bags to be looked after was even less fun. But inside – my, was that fun. Dancing aplenty. Music aplenty. We were all in love with the CoCo. The end of the night was slightly more eventful than anticipated – poor old Mike wasn’t feeling too healthy, as demonstrated by the sight of him leaning over the side of a concrete verge to be violently ill into the hedges; Cheryl lost her bag, and no amount of my searching could locate it; Kévin disappeared off with his girlfriend, having successfully framed other, innocent young volleyball players for his chants at the cheerleading troupe; and the attempts to get everyone back in taxis were absolutely nightmarish, with no one having a clue where we were and with everyone slowly beginning to freeze in the harsh temperatures that seemed to have come out of nowhere.

JH: The next morning was some of the most fun I’ve had. I awoke in the greatest mood anyone has ever been after a night out, ate some pizza and drank orangina, for me life couldn’t get much better. Then we got to the metro. And suddenly life did not seem so peachy. The jolting carriages and heat did not do me much good whatsoever. It’s always nice however when it that position to be able to look around and see that your fellow volleyballer is in exactly the same state. How Pawel managed to stay on his feet the whole day I don’t think I’ll ever know.

JW: Plinio came into his own as the ‘Master of the Métro’, marching around the rues and boulevards with a steely glint in his eye as he repeatedly led the volleyballing sheep from location to location, following the work of his mentor, Oscar. Perhaps Plinio was fuelled by his newfound love for the muffins which he had bought in great supply at London Victoria on the first morning, which had led Jacob to try to teach him that they should be referred to as ‘great muff’ (it did not catch on). Who knows.

JH: It was at this point that Fergus was to undergo the defining moment of the weekend. Having got off the Paris metro he swung his bag joyfully onto his shoulder. Alas the bag did not make it to the shoulder and descended in front of Mr Shaw with a sickening crash. The bottle of wine he had so happily procured for under 2 euros had disintegrated upon impact, drenching his possessions in some of the worst white wine France has to offer. The explosion of laughter from every single member of the team at the sight of Fergus carrying his leaking sports bag will stay long in the memory.

JW: I nearly got pickpocketed. The decision to wear my England rugby shirt (foolhardy, to say the least) attracted a very aggressive man who promptly attempted to trip me and flip my phone out of my pocket. Luckily, a combination of tight (figure-hugging) chinos and the attentions of Federica prevented him gaining his prize. Fede, thank you.

JH: The afternoon saw the club visit a number of attractions from the Louvre all the way to the Arc De Triomphe which provided a fitting end to the weekend as we watched the sun set over the Parisian skyline.

JW: No one who climbed L’Arc de Triomphe to witness that sun setting over the sprawling Parisian metropolis will forget that stunningly breathtaking sight in a hurry. Perfection does not even come close.

JH: More entertaining was the game of ‘Would you rather’ that Fergus provided. It would seem that we can now solidly conclude, as a human race, that the worst thing in the world is tripping at the top of some stairs and banging your shin in an act that causes a bruise and some mild embarrassment. The evening’s journey to McDonalds for a quick bite to eat provided Paris with an another tourist attraction according to one man. Whilst casually eating a burger, said man glanced at me and did a double take, sauntering over to stare and mutter. I must say it ruined what was a particularly sumptuous cheeseburger, then again, it’s not the first time I’ve been mistaken for Jay-Z.

JW: The coach journey back worked pretty well too. So many more sleeping photos. Only one dribbler though, eh John? The broken heaters weren’t so pleasant, matched only by the heat of the bar-club that we went to on the Friday night. In this case, it led Pawel and Ellie to sleep flat out in the gangway, and everyone else to constantly wake up just to wipe the sweat away from baking brows. I lost my toothpaste, something which, to me at least, assumed much greater significance at 3 in the morning than it otherwise would have done. Repeated calls for people to return it to me were unsuccessful, leaving me bereft of my Colgate, until it later miraculously reappeared at the very bottom of my bag.

JW: This really was some weekend. So good, in fact, that the moment it ended I wanted to go back and do it all again. 43 times. The best kinds of memories are the ones made with people that cherish them just as much as you personally cherish them, and, guess what – we’re all seriously going to cherish a lot of the memories created on this sojourn across the Channel. It was about more than just the sights, however. A more tight-knit group of people, I have yet to meet. So many hugs (dankjewel Celly) and smiles (Emily’s simply lights up a room, every single time) and laughs. So many moments of pure hilarity, of wonderful joy, of sheer happiness. Call me a soppy prick if you like. But I would not have had it any other way. Thank you very, very much everyone – truly, truly magnificent. My face hurts from smiling so much at all the wonderful memories.

JH: Myself and Rob have always spoken about the family mentality that we aim to produce within Bristol University Volleyball club, and it was truly wonderful to see it so brilliantly represented in the 26 of us who went to Paris. I don’t think I will ever forget the 4 days I spent with everyone there, they are memories I will cherish forever. Its amazing to be part of a group that have such a bond. I cannot stress enough how each and every one of you were absolutely fantastic in your own wonderfully unique ways – Mike’s confusing sleeping patterns, Nicole’s selfies, Rob’s consumption of local sausages (again no more needs to be said), Emily’s smile, James’ horror at beer prices, Celly’s hugs, Danielle’s choice of pyjamas, Chris’ strict hair routine, Jacob’s hatred of being a tourist, Fergus getting crap on his towel, Pawel’s Christmas jumper in mid-March, Lara’s thunder-like falls to the ground, Fede’s use of a disconnected plastic pink phone, Oscar’s reassurance he knew where he was going, Ellie’s reassurance Oscar didn’t know where he was going, Abi’s vocal dislike of UCL, Duncan’s perfect first date, Plinio’s mastery of the Metro, Karoline’s decision she was too good for the coach home and would rather jump on a plane, Gaby’s eye-rolling at the different ways to use her surname in chants, Kirsty looking simply adorableee in her own pretty pink sleeping outfit, Catherine’s wonderfully straight hair after houuurs of work by Celly, Cheryl’s remarkable yodelling noise made between points, Minodora’s provision of a superb pillow for Oscar (so he said),

JW: and John’s own delight in introducing the world to his camp American drawl.

JH: Thank you everyone for a stupendous and unforgettable weekend. I will never forget it.

Worcestershire sauce anyone?

Ladies 2nds Tournament 28/02/2015

Ladies 2nds Tournament 28/02/2015

Match Report

Due to a crazy shuffling of the teams which caught everyone unawares this match report is for the Blue team #wild. The team consisted of the most brilliant fellows know to volleyball: Dear Captain Millie, Monika, Maria, Abi and Emily. Despite a couple of subtle hangovers we were all on top form, proving that although we had never played as a team together that we were telepathically all on the same wave length. Our play on the whole was as smooth as a giant panda amongst penguins.

To the people of Stoke Bishops horror there was no car going to the tournament meaning either a 45 minute walk or a taxi. We opted for the taxi given the 7.45 meeting point at the bus station. There was however a bit of a hiccup as taxi was only for 4 people, not 5… Luckily my bicycle (which has saved me from many kerfuffles) was to hand, so I frantically cycled through Brizzle in the drizzle and we all made it too the bus stop. The bus stop was as you would expect- a café/ shop selling items at extortionate prices, and the typical airport style seating, or lack of which meant most people opted for the floor. Once on the bus excitement for the day ahead erupted into a combination of chin wagging and laughter. Either I fell asleep or the journey was incredibly short but we all arrived safely and on time and – Whooptido! To make things even better due to it being Abi Woodens 19th Birthday we were greeted with homemade cake, for the Londoners amongst you I am talking full on Hummingbird style. Scrummy. This pick me up was lucky enough to break some of the secret hangovers that had been lingering behind brave faces.

The first match was against the Cardiff ‘Jets’ (how American…) Having consumed cake we were buzzing and the day started well. Having done no practise serves we all fared remarkably well especially Maria who’s particularly uncasual serves proved handy during the Blues darkest hours. At half way the score was 20:17 to the ‘Jets’, a pretty strong start. Once again the oppositions experience meant they were able to consolidate victory. The final score was 33:20. (as you can see after half way the number of points we won took a little tumble) but we returned to the benches feeling competent in our ability and ever hopeful of a win later in the day.

After a long break, with even more cake, (rhyme unintended) we returned to face the Welsh once again this time the Cardiff ‘Falcons’. Our match’s international nature drew in many supporters and even a photographer. Millie’s levitation skills whilst serving were second only to the Buddha himself, there is photo evidence of this and also of what can only be described as ‘Egyptian’ style jumping from Abi. Our points in this match dwindled ‘un petit peu’ as we only scored 18 whereas the Falcons scored 36. How selfish of them not to share. We did not fare well against the teams from the ‘Land of Llewelyn’ but it was early days.

As the saying goes ‘third time lucky’, this was certainly the case. The Bemi 2nd Team were far more smiley to begin which calmed our nerves and brought out our best. Monika with the supportive setting of Abi managed to hit many ‘kill shots’. Bemi did not know what had hit them (Quite literally) We were storming ahead like a greyhound amongst pugs. Our eyes glistened each time we glanced at the score board as the gap, like the San Andreas Fault simply kept getting bigger and bigger. The final score was 38: 17 to us!!! We were, in the words of Blackadder himself: ‘as happy as a man who thought a cat had done its business on his pie, but it turned out to be an extra big blackberry’. Someone at this point excitedly exclaimed: ‘We could win the tournament!’ Now, let’s not get too excited…. (next time)

Another break gave us the chance to observe the varying sponsorships clubs had received: from Westbury Tile Warehouse or Julian Hodge Banking to Admiral Insurance. We must count our blessings for having a pub as a sponsor: for Molloys is of far more use than a Tile Warehouse- I wonder if they too have socials there?

We returned for a precarious game against the yellows, the atmosphere was that of when one plays the ‘do or die’ card in the board game ‘Escape from Colditz’ (which beats monopoly hands down). We gained a good lead but with some tricky serving from Simran the score was fluctuating throughout. It was a close game but luckily the blues conquered and took no prisoners we got 30 and the yellows got every ones favourite song ‘twentytwooewew’. Two games in a row- no biggie.

Normally the game against the Hornets is particularly memorable, however today it really is not- thanks to Tims email of the score we know the final score was 31:19 which unfortunately marked the end of our streak of brilliance.

Luckily at this point was lunch which is normally a good opportunity for chit-chat about serious dilemmas such as the falling oil prices and rising prices of freddos. However many people decided to undertake work…this was particularly distressing for fresher’s who were provided with a glimpse into the dark future. Millie, leading in style, said a few words after lunch to rally the troops- ‘lets have a good game girls’ these poetic and inspiring words one can only compare to the ‘Band of Brothers’ speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V.

Our next game was against the UOB 1st team, and at the beginning it was remarkably close, but this original marvelousness slowly evaporated. Abby despite a thumb injury set superbly through this game but unfortunately at one point due to division in the ranks Monika sent a ‘head shot’ her way. Naturally we all laughed before checking she was alive- she was. Regretfully the final score was16:36 to the 1st’s but one day we shall take our pound of flesh.

We had another break and were able to admire other team’s kit/ outfits/ uniforms. I do not remember being told it was fancy dress but one of the teams (I cannot remember who) were dressed as poisonous frogs in turquois and purple tops complete with one player who’s colours were the opposite of everyone else’s- either because the washing machine had played a cruel joke or she was their Libro- who knows. Bath on the other hand looked like they were playing in Bar Crawl T-Shirts.

The penultimate match was against the Bemi 1st team. Given our success against the 2nds we entered the game positively and rightly so as it was a close game. Unfortunately Abi’s thumb decided to fail her at this point so Abi kindly gave her role of setter to Maria, although she proved a more than competent hitter. Thanks to the video footage we have of the game we have slow mo evidence of some sexy sets from Millie as well as sassy hits from Emily. The final score of 20:29 proves that we were bloody close throughout the game.

By the final game we had given it our all and were on our last legs, especially Millie and Maria who both also played for the Reds as well as the Blues. We threw ourselves into the game played our upmost until the final whistle. The score: 18:38. It had been a very long day indeed but we all survived in one piece.

On that bombshell we ventured home and retired to bed, or to the phenomenal medic’s ball (judging by the photos…) Although we may not have won, we did all have a wonderful day and played our very best. I leave you to ponder on the words of William Wordsworth: ‘Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive; But to be young was very heaven.’

 

Player of the Match: Abi, for soldiering on despite injury.

 

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Ladies 2nds Vs Hartpury 10/02/2015

Ladies 2nds Vs Hartpury 10/02/2015

Match Report

We assembled for our first ‘proper’ game ever- three sets, first to 25 points in each. Our opponents: Hartpury, I had a sneak peek at their college website, its impressively smart; I quote ‘welcome to our 360 hectare classroom’ which apparently cost a casual £50 million to build… No biggie, as their symbol is an acorn- and we have whole Coat of Arms complete with dolphin, horse and ship.

All us Stokie B peeps hopped into ‘Prince’ the name of Milly’s black Polo (just a heads up for your next car Mill- cars are meant to be girls). It was like a bloody sauna, we were to discover on the way home why the air con was not on as it oozes out the smell of prawns- delightful. There is a story behind it but I’m sure you can use your imaginations.

We got lost at one point (I don’t think we have ever made it to a match without getting lost at least once) and ended up at the most extraordinary junction I have ever witnessed- a cross roads- if you may call it that as the crossing was at an incredibly acute angle (roughly 45 degrees.) Milly, aided by some wheel spin darted across in a momentous ‘touch and go’ manoeuvre (appreciate that it has taken me a good 40 seconds to write a word close enough to manoeuvre for it to appear in the spell check). Anyway, we made it to the metropolitan school thingbob. It seems all our volleyball venues were designed by the same architect, I don’t know who this fellow is but he obviously found a preferred design and then applied it too all his projects- fair enough but he’s no Haussmann.

The next task was numbering up. Given that apparently we can choose any number up to 24, Captain Mille- Queen of the Tape, dictated that we may only have ‘straight’ numbers, for convenience sake. The choices left 1, 11, 7, or 17. Having been refused 0, 3, 4 and 8 I received good old 17, thank you MillieJ.

It was tense and quiet, and as we knew we had the potential to win we were all on edge. We did not manage to ‘cool our beans’ during the warm up as ‘4’ was announced (as if we ought to know what that meant) followed by ‘2’, again we were left baffled. Fortunately Tim was there to fill us in on the technical lingo- by which I mean numbers. ‘Serves’ was a word we conquered, but we fumbled about again just before the match when we were asked to line up along the base line and then turn around once in position. It was as if we were about to be executed by a firing squad. Luckily, we were not executed and were then left to get on with what we came for- volleyball.

The first set, we were off to a good start with excellent serving and passing from all. We were composed but there was a general lack of calmness. The silence on court was anything but golden, facial expressions ranged from the determined glare to the not so formidable ‘rabbit in the head lights’ (my personal favourite). It seems Milly’s bottom was a magnet that attracted the ball throughout the sets, embarrassingly one of my own serves ended up there, and once again the phrase ‘o goody’ returned to haunt the court. We lost the first set 18:25 but with the feeling that we could win enveloped all.  We entered the second set thinking optimistically.

We were 5 points up at the beginning and felt on top of the world but the other team brought it back and a couple of times we were stuck serve receiving for what seemed like hours before finally rotating. At this point their ‘Tim- equivalent’ began to get cranky. A disputed net touch brought the atmosphere to a new level of awkwardness. We stared through the net at our young, fresh faced opponents who were obviously embarrassed by their coach’s blatant boorishness. But Hey Ho the game went on- Milly and Mariam (or Miriam- neither exists as a name on my laptop so both have been ‘added to dictionary’) jumped bravely up to confront a hit and epically sent it flying back to the other team- who had failed to cover. Sarah served some absolutely cracking serves, as did Monika and Dasha. The Second set was even closer than the first, the 22:25 to them. Unfortunately, this served the purpose of greatening our frustration. Tim announced ‘it’s now or never’ to which someone exclaimed ‘never’. You get the idea- our spirits were as low as those of England fans after the Brazil World Cup.  However, we persevered and returned to court for one last set. Passing ranged from ‘medium rare’ to ‘well-done’. Emily and Milly’s passing was particularly strong throughout which was followed up by some exquisite setting and hitting. It was a shame the other team were so blummin’ good at returning such spikes.

The third set was the worst by a few thousand miles, though it was not without its victorious moments. Dasha hit one ball flying diagonally crosscourt to a beautiful gap in the opponents defence, this of course would not have been possible without a delicious set from Millie. Tiredness had set in and our play was littered with silly kerfuffle’s meaning that the final set score was 14:25 to Hartpury. Had we won the second set I believe the game would have turned out rather differently for our spirits waned the most when we were close to victory but had fallen at the final hurdle.  At the end of the day we did not play our best and the other teams experience did show. We were the underdogs but we put up a jolly good fight so we left the sports hall with our heads held high.

After the other team had scuttled off having refused to play for a tad longer the Reds took on our dear friends who had come to help. In our unperturbed state we played considerably better and the silence that had drowned the room finally dissipated and we had a laugh. This was the highlight of the day for all involved- we had way more fun than Hartpury who were certainly not a ‘bundle of fun’ as we are and didn’t even seem particularly bothered by their victory.

I had a secret ‘Congratulations/ Commiserations’ cake in my bag (I didn’t know which way it was gonna go) we all tucked in, Monika and Dasha especially- they really like cake! We then headed home and we got to go under the suspension bridge, which was super fun!

 

Thank you to Rob, John, Zoe, Xing Xing and Maria for refereeing, scoring, second refereeing and line judging respectively.

 

Man of the Match: Captain Millie

Men’s 1st’s Vs UWE 14/02/2015

Men’s 1st’s Vs UWE 14/02/2015

Match Report

On the day of St Valentine the Men’s 1st‘s put aside their largely non-existent romantic commitments for a few hours in order to do battle with the might of UWE Volleyball in the B&DVA league.

The match was my favourite kind – where more happens off the court that is of interest than on it. However in the interest of staying on topic and creating a semblance of a ‘match report’ I’ll do my best to seamlessly weave the random events in to the narrative.

The team arrived promptly at the venue and began almost immediately to show why we play Volleyball and not Basketball as we all significantly embarrassed ourselves whilst trying to ‘shoot hoops’ as I believe the lingo goes. However after a well-executed lift worthy of a Rugby lineout ensured the removal of the basketball hoop, the team were ready to warm up.

Valentines is of course a special day for any loving couple, a time to remember how much they love each other and give and receive delightful gifts, before sharing it mindlessly on every conceivable social networking site in some desperate attempt to prove that their ‘bae is the best ever #valentines #mycutie #love’. (I’m embracing grumpiness today it would seem). Rob ‘Juliet’ Pennifold encompassed the holiday perfectly, bringing his supportive other half to the game, and consequently suffered hugely from a bout of ‘girlfriend watching syndrome’ by which he tried to hit every ball as hard as he possibly could whilst all the while maintaining it was how he always does it.

After such an amusing pre-game show the men were ready for the actual game. The team started with a fresh, hip and now formation drafted up by coach Danielle Simpson, who incidentally happens to be single, enjoys long walks on the beach and winning anything and everything. (You’re welcome Danielle, just helping a brother out). Chris ‘Ambidextrous’ Sherfield, despite not being aware he was playing outside, opened up his shoulders to hit wonderfully, including a delightful left handed spike which drew no reaction from the crowd, much to his disappointment. Kevin Bonnot meanwhile, set well to help the men take a substantial lead over the local rivals. UWE employed a curious tactic through the middle, where they set incredibly high balls, which made blocking that little bit easier for the happy couple that is Captain House and his soul mate Big Michael Wilsher. And Mike can I just say publically, thank you for the teddy bear and chocolates. Fergus Shaw and Plinio Zanini both also showed their prowess throughout the set with a variety of left handed spiking that left Chris looking particularly upset as the team cheered them on. With a strong blocking game in place, and excellent hitting, the Men ran out with the game 25-18.

The second set began with a shake up on the Bristol side, Sherfield was back in to set, whilst Pawel Laskowski moved in to play outside. Special mention to Pawel who failed to wake up on time and in the consequent rush forgot to bring any kit and thus ended up playing in what appeared to be an outfit from the Sports Direct Winter leisurewear collection. Nevertheless, Pawel, playing in his first game back since injury, showed that he is still a valuable member of the team with his serving in particular being practically un-returnable and causing the UWE team to cheer the loudest of all the game when he eventually served one out. The Bristol men opened up an early 8-5 lead and things were going swimmingly until Captain House hit a ball that was then skewered off court by a UWE player only to be called as a no touch. Having entered what could be described as a riled state, Captain House then rose to meet the next ball, egged on by Chris who’s whisper of ‘kill it John’ could not have been more appropriately seductive, sending the ball off the block and off the UWE side of the court. After a number of overtly sarcastic hand gestures to the UWE side, Captain House was reminded of the gentlemanly nature of Volleyball and managed to calm down. A bit. The set continued and Bristol managed to maintain a lead throughout, helped by Duncan McCabe’s hitting and Rob Pennifolds passing. Indeed it was with very little fanfare that the team reached 25 points to UWE’s 22 and consequently won the game.

The post-game was wonderfully eventful, but I won’t keep you for too long so I’ll give you the short version. Firstly I thought we had forgotten the scoreboard and in an attempt to solve a perceived mystery bounded over to the Pennifold wagon only to fall flat on my cushiony behind (my eternal battle against Holiday weight continues), much to the mirth of the entire watching team. Meanwhile, an attempt to accrue a late Valentines date was also an abject failure, apparently blasting emotional love ballads out of a VW Golf isn’t a good technique, at least we know for next year. Finally, and to fulfill the old adage of having a beginning, middle and end in a story, the men indulged Pawel in his wishes and enjoyed a wonderful brunch, before parting ways in the knowledge that we had succeeded in defeating our local rivals yet again.

Man of the Match goes to Rob Pennifold for adjusting well to playing Libero and passing consistently. Although mistaking me for Chris is something that I will need time to forgive. He’s barely 5 foot 6. (#banter).

By John House

Men’s 1sts Vs Bemi & Speedwell 07/02/2015

Men’s 1sts Vs Bemi & Speedwell 07/02/2015

Match Report

On the 7th February the Men’s 1sts played two games in the B&DVA League against Bemi VC and Speedwell.

Having taken a minor detour so that Rob ‘Special Friend’ Pennifold could simultaneously show off where his girlfriend lives and prove her existence, the team arrived at Orchard Secondary school to discover what can only be described as the highest of high quality nets. That, of course, was sarcasm. (I feel it particularly necessary to point sarcasm out, as our resident Canadian, Duncan, often struggles. Hang in there buddy).

The first game was against Bemi who way back at the start of this tumultuous academic year the team had lost to. This game however was to be different. The game started with a very long winded and low quality point where no play was strung together successfully. However, that was not to set the tone for the game thankfully. Bemi are an experienced side and challenged the men throughout the first set. Rob ‘2nd gear’ Pennifold opened up the shoulders and hit superbly, probably happy that the low height of the net didn’t require him to jump as much. Honestly when you get to that age, any jump could be your last but it remains wonderful to see Rob defy all the odds, knees trembling, to hurl his body and zimmerframe into the air. Plinio ‘The Wolverine’ Zanini meanwhile, having quite deliberately changed courtside, unfurling his majestic chest hair as he did so, clearly also found the net height to be quite agreeable as he unleashed all the fury a Brazilian man can unleash upon Bemi. As ever, the Bristol men decided to panic toward the end of the first set, giving Bemi a sniff at victory. However that sniff was soon extinguished by a middle hit from Captain House and a delightful spike from the teen wolf (Plinio). First set 27-25 Bristol.

The second set was less tense with Bristol asserting their obvious dominance. Duncan ‘Scrum down’ McCabe, a man recently converted to rugby, reached new outstanding heights both figuratively and literally above the net to spike whilst his passing was almost always on point. Wallace and Gromit would be proud. Perhaps threatened by Duncans impressive leap, James ‘Conference’ Throup joined the fray, spiking and blocking with the majority of his body above the net. Even Fergus ‘Bumble’ Shaw had his time in the artificial sun provided by the indoor lighting. The second set was like a warm summer breeze and Bristol won it 25-16.

The second game of the day was against Speedwell, a very strong side with a number of notable hitters who opened up a big lead in the first set at 18-10. What Speedwell didn’t account for however was the sponge like nature of Bristol’s libero Justin Hui, as he absorbed hit after hit. Indeed Justin should be commended for ignoring his Pokemon instincts and not ‘Catching them all’, instead choosing to pass like his mint condition Charizard Pokemon card depended on it. Genuinely, Justin loves Pokemon. With Justin taking hit after hit the Bristol men were able to launch a counter attack. It’s not often I write about myself, however during the game it dawned on me that with the net being so low I was probably at an advantage due the length of my gangly frame. With that in mind I started to get into the game to the level where it just becomes that little bit awkward for everyone else. Regardless, despite the Christmas holiday weight that continues to plague me well into February I actually did start to hit quite nicely. Taking up my mantle when I was libero’d off was none other than Big Mike ‘Genuine Leather’ Wilsher, ably supported by his brother who was there to cheer his sibling on and provide access to a variety of foods including Bombay mix which I’m assured went down a treat.

Side-note to Matthew Wilsher – your support was wonderful and much appreciated, and dare I say it, better than your parents, who now need to step their game up when they next come to watch.

Anyway, through good middle hitting and equally excellent passing and setting the Men did manage to make the game interesting as Speedwell took it 25-23.

With such momentum the men started the second set strongly. It truly is a wonderful sight when any Bristol volleyball team plays to the best of their ability, and this was no different. Christopher Sherfield was consistent throughout with his setting, bringing that beautiful mix of complaints, reassurance and praise that only he can achieve. He even got to spike a ball, an act that has eluded him thus far this year. Chris, top work.

Sometimes you do just have to accept that an opposition deserves to win, and it was no different with Speedwell. They brought a very strong game and we held our own superbly and over 5 sets I would have backed us, however you can’t win everything and they took the set 25-20.

Thus it was that Bristol’s 6 game winning streak was brought to an end.

As ever, many positives can be taken as we embark on what is a volleyball-fest over the next two months with 16 games in 7 weeks… I should probably start planning how to reference Robs age in new ways.

By John House

Ladies 2nds Red Tournament 10/01/2015

Ladies 2nds Red Tournament 10/01/2015

Match Report

Exam season can be such a bore, but the 10th of January certainly jazzed things up for us Volleyball players. We cast our revision aside and pulled up our knee pads ready for a day that would go down in the Bristol Red’s History. Our ever so international team assembled again. However, a few changes had been made since the last tournament. Some of our finest players having been plucked from our ranks making room for the new kids on the block. Monika and Bryony were strong additions to our mighty team and with a bond as strong as titanium we started the day.

Journey times for each car varied tremendously. The journey there took a tad longer than expected, as the Satnav was as helpful as a parachute in a canoe. Having gone round the moon a few times we arrived ready for the first whistle. The first game against the Hornets started rather well and at around half way we were only a point behind at 22:23…… we were tremendously pleased considering our three weeks of Christmas holidays. Unfortunately, the Hornets upped their game at this point and buzzed about the court – even the player whose T-Shirt was so long she looked like she had forgotten to put any shorts on was suddenly amazingly energetic. We were left slightly stunned as we lost 28:38.

Despite this, we were pretty chuffed with our efforts and realised our potential to maybe one day beat a team who were not part of the Bristol 2nd’s. This therefore was set as our aim for the year (little did we know that fortune herself had smiled upon us). Rob had kindly stepped in to coach the team and organised our tactics and serve receive formation – which was to change multiple times through the day – however I think I can safely say by that evening we had sussed it.

The next game was against our old chums Volleywood. Probably one of our favourite opponents along with the Hornets/Bumblebees. We started well and the game was close throughout. With 4 minutes to go the scores were neck and neck, however we kept our cool and composure and it was only in the final furlong that we pulled it out of the bag. Dasha, the Canon, did us all proud with the final three serves. When the whistle went we were THREE points up at 32:29. It was Bloody Brilliant! Our goal for the year had been set, and within 20 minutes we had succeeded: Olympics here we come. We leapt up and down in celebration and with smiles as wide as a great albatross’ wingspan we left the hall. We were as proud as peacocks for the whole break and when we returned to the court to face the mighty yellows we certainly all stood a little taller, which is pretty handy in Volleyball.

The yellows put up a very good fight and rallies lasted a little longer each time. By the end of the match we were the ones walking on sunshine as we reeled in another victory 40:23. We were on a role, two-thirds of our games won, 66.66666%. If you don’t get the picture – it’s about as big a deal as the Battle of Britain for we no longer have to lie about our ability when people inquire: ‘How did the tournament go?’. We can now respond proudly that we did win some matches (notice my use of the plural) and that in around 15 weeks we have transformed from caterpillars to butterflies on court (Christmas was the metamorphosis period).

Having said that, in the next two games we were as successful as the 2012 Olympic mascots.  Needless to say we were, as the Australians would put it, ‘all over the place like a mad woman’s custard’. We lost as badly as the Americans in Vietnam, it was a disaster and our high spirits waned.  Taunton crushed us in a bit of an embarrassing match – the score, if you must know was 12:40 (awkward). We shall move on swiftly to the next game…another catastrophic failure, though not because we played poorly but mainly because Volleymates were like mighty Spartan warriors, and O my, they had some bloody strong hitters, blink and you would miss them. Mariam at one point ‘chest pumped’ a ball perfectly to our delight. At around this point the ‘pity’ underarm serves began to our dismay in order to give us a chance and as the score reflects we did not exactly bounce back at this point with the final score being 13:42 (Whoopsy daisies).

Thank goodness that at this point it was lunchtime! A trip to McDonald’s was kindly offered by Rob, but we all rejected this offer, I still don’t know what we were thinking, luckily couscous was on the cards for most and we all enjoyed our lunch.

Our main struggle during the day was serve receiving, our formation changed numerous times and our passing, despite our best efforts struggled as the ball ricocheted with bullet like speed from our arms. However, despite this challenge we managed to counter attack with some jolly good serving from our whole team despite the fact that at the back of the court there was not enough room to swing a gerbil, let alone a cat. Particularly powerful serves from Dasha and Monika who had obviously been weightlifting turkeys over the Christmas holidays, well, the Polish or Russian equivalent. One of my serves ‘accidentally’ smacked Dasha during the course of the day – karma for the night before when Dasha nearly took my head off. Setting has become an art form at the hands of Millie and Mariam. Setting backwards is no longer a ‘no-fly zone’ and both Millie and Mariam have taken to it like a duck to water.

We had a little recuperation in the ‘dance studio’ after lunch, luckily no mirrors were broken although a large stage lamp nearly fell and killed Bryony which would have been a tad awkward. As they say the night is darkest just before the dawn – we upped the ante and ensured that our game play returned to its former glory.

The South West of England under 16’s were ever so spritely and had enough substitutes to man an aircraft carrier. They even had a ‘libero’; don’t ask me what this means. They were rather good, but so are we, however the final score 21:34 reflects that they were indeed more ‘accomplished’ at volleyball than ourselves, but its fine because they have not even done their GCSE’s yet – suckers.

Through the day we had the delight of refereeing, which was always an absolute blast, as usual. The flying saucers ran out remarkably quickly but scoring was still the most desirable job. Refereeing is something I would not wish on my worst enemy due to the amount of ‘sass’ received from players. Politeness in volleyball I have found goes out the window when it comes to disputing with referees and line judges. Tongues are stuck out and the formidable ‘death stare’ is common (I have not yet mastered the latter). Mariam had a shocker whilst line judging and as second referee I too had trouble regarding a disputed net touch to which I rightfully responded ‘the decision has been made’. Dasha and I managed to screw up the scoring by swapping the scores round, to the winning team’s dismay, but luckily all was put right in the end… we think.

The next team ‘Torexe’ was unknown to us, and for some reason for the whole day I thought they were called Durex…. Which, as you can imagine, baffled me. Anyhow another close game – I cant even remember their uniform let alone the events of the game. I’m sure we all played marvellously as the final score despite being a loss was not too bad. 27:39. Tiredness had set in and as I have been so utterly hopeless and am writing this two weeks late (sorry) from this point onwards I can’t remember nought so I’ve kept it brief and don’t take it at face value.

Finally, it seemed like eternity later, we played Bemi. Smiles were exchanged across no man’s land (the net) and the game was underway. Our serves were consistent and have improved ever so much, three touch volleyball was fully underway and many of the rallies lasted a thirty seconds or more – crazy, I know! Final score 22:34, O well, no biggie. It’s best not to linger on such things so I won’t.

Millie, our dear ‘Mother Goose’ led us through the valley of the shadow of death (after all our victory is on par with some of the bibles most significant battles). We had emerged, even in our defeats, as triumphant as the Jamaican Bobsleigh team. To cut a long story short our victory was a bloody marvellous and if you have succeeded in reading this far down the report, firstly; jolly good on you, and secondly all you need to remember from this whole ‘spiel’ is that in a game against a non UOB team: WE WON.

Player of the Match: I don’t know if this is ‘legit’ but everyone, as we all shared in such a stupendous victory.

Written by Hattie Freer-Smith

 

Men’s 1sts Vs TipTop 17/01/2015

Men’s 1sts Vs TipTop 17/01/2015

Match Report

On the 17th January the Men’s 1st team got the term underway with a match against local side Tip-Top in the B&DVA league.

Early on in the term exhaustion was already setting in with one Fergus ‘Snoozin Sarandon’ Shaw being woken 5 minutes from departure time by the sprightly duo of Wilsher and House. Kevin ‘Slumber-dog Millionaire’ Bonnot meanwhile had ‘worked his exam late’ and thus failed to rise in time to join the troops. Wonderfully, the sleeping puns don’t end there however as one final member in the form of James… James err… alright they are done, let’s be honest the second one was a bit of a push anyway. If you have any suggestions for what I could have put, please email me at jh12091@my.bristol.ac.uk, alternatively if 140 characters is more your thing tweet me @JohnHouse94.  Anyway James Throup failed to wake up as well and so our hearty band of volleyball enthusiasts was reduced to 9 plus Coach Danielle ‘Awful Referee’ Simpson and Plinio’s mother or mãe as google informs me is the Brazillian translation. Although that also means old woman, in which case Mrs Zanini you have my most humble of apologies for my error, you don’t look a day over 25. Plinio I’m not flirting I swear, I just want to make a good impression.

This match report is odd, it’s more a stream of my consciousness. Whatever I’m committing to it now.

Despite the back of my car having a puddle in it due to some pretty hefty issues with precipitation and a hole, the team made it safely to the game, inspired along the way with Big Mike ‘Reverse’ Wilsher’s choice of the Star Wars soundtrack blasting through the car stereo.

Due to a well needed fitness portion of training on Thursday the majority of the team were suffering from an intense burning pain in their thighs from the get go and it showed in the warm up as jogging became more of a stumble, making the team a group of Chris ‘You have a bad leg? You should have said’ Sherfields.

Okay now the Volleyball. Like a group of greyhounds specifically bred for generations into agile, streamlined racers the Men’s team were quick out of the blocks with Rob ‘One Man Storybook’ Pennifold hitting powerfully, a theme he would continue throughout the match. Forcing a time out at 7-2 the men were keen to press on. Helped by the fact that the other team were, to put it kindly, vertically challenged in comparison to the wealth of awkward gangly males on the Bristol team, hitting through middle for Captain House became quite enjoyable. Duncan McCabe meanwhile, a closet Wallace and Gromit fan, spread his Canadian hands like Lurpak Spreadable butter, although much better than that because it literally is not spreadable like they seriously need to sort it out or change their marketing campaign, you just end up tearing through the bread. I digress… he blocked really well. Top marks to Duncan. Umm where were we. Oh yes, the team continued to play well. Plinio meanwhile made his favouritism clear for all the team to see as he failed to cleanly hit a set from Chris, before absolutely nailing a set from Captain House. Chris maybe if you were nicer to his mother Plinio would change his mind. Again Plinio nothing meant by that. All in all a solid performance first set, and a 25-21 win for the men.

The second set began in a similar fashion with Rob ‘He literally has thousands of stories for his Grandkids which I assume he already has on the way because he is so old haha classic joke about Rob being old’ Pennifold continuing to score many points with his hitting. Such was the streak the team were on Big Mike decided to take his chance to run a reverse quick. Unfortunately he only chose to make Chris aware of his intentions as the ball fell into Chris’ hands, seductively whispering ‘Reverse’ into his ear. Needless to say Chris panicked, caught the ball and much mirth was had by all. With Fergus and Oscar ‘The Man Bun will never be cool get a haircut’ Parsley joining the side on court the men continued to make hay and score points. Weird phrase that make hay. Is making hay particularly impressive? I live on a farm and I have to say I’ve never been particularly moved by the sight of Richard (otherwise known as Papa House or Dick House, depending on the mood) making hay.  Anyway, the team did great, and won the second set 25-18 and thus the game 2-0.

Special mention to Chris Sherfield whose setting was consistently on point, Justin Hui whose Libero skills need no further flattery and Pawel Laskowski for supporting in the unique way only he can.

Man of the Match goes to Rob Pennifold for rolling back the years and tucking away the veranda that overhangs his porch these days (I can make fun, we are special friends) in order to hit and pass superbly.

 

The men now stand top of the B&DVA League. Go us.

 

Ladies 2nds Yellow vs Ladies 2nds Blue 07/12/2014

Ladies 2nds Yellow vs Ladies 2nds Blue 07/12/2014

Match Report

On the 7th December, the Ladies 2nd team converged on Tyndall Avenue to play each other in the first round of the GVA cup. Arriving at a prompt  10.15am the tension in that hallowed sports centre was almost unbearable.  The might of the yellow team, coached by the dynamic husband & husband duo of Jacob Webster and Duncan McCabe, were to take on the giants of the blue team coached by their spirit guide Michael Wilsher.

After a brisk warm up and with Millie Mercer’s home-baked mince pies (although not the mincemeat, that was bought from a shop, no one is that good) placed lovingly on the scorers table as an incentive for the two teams, the match began.

The first set got off to a solid start with both teams putting early points on the board. With both Xingh and Abi setting well for their respective teams, it was immediately clear there was little to choose between the two sides. A great run of serves by the ever reliable Simran however began to give the yellow team a lead over their opponents. The Blues however responded with their own unique brand of three touch volleyball and clawed their way back in, emerging only 2 points behind at the first time out with the score poised at 16-14. Perhaps due to some sort of team-prayer or ancient ritual (literally God knows what Mike is up to sometimes) the Blue team emerged with lady luck on their side. As the ball rose above the net both Monika and Vera jumped for the ball, connecting beautifully in some sort of weird volleyball high five, the ball remained perfectly balanced on the net, before it began slowly rolling down toward the side. The entire hall held its breath, as the ball wobbled, reached its journeys end, and fell gracefully – on the yellow side. Whatever the blues had done – it had paid off. Fighting now against not only the blues but also the deity that had sided with them, the yellows had it all to do. But do it they did, fighting back majestically with powerful hitting from Minodora. As the set closed out, the yellows edged through with a 25-23 win.

With this momentum the Yellows began the second set like an unstoppable train. With Vera serving like a woman possessed by the ghost of a cannon, the blues quickly began to bow under the pressure. A well called Time-out earned them some respite and they did fight back, with Zoe Holt in particular passing hit after hit from the yellow side, however the yellow team had become a well-oiled machine, consistently blocking, passing and hitting, much to the visible delight of their coaches. One astonishing back-court hit from Gaby Cropper drew such looks of fatherly pride from Messrs Webster and McCabe that Dasha and Millie on the scoring table were pushed to comment on the ‘cuteness’ of the coaching twosome. With Charlotte Edge stepping up to the plate beautifully with some pinpoint sets, and an extraordinary capacity for ‘team blocking’, the yellows took the second set 25-14.

As the blue team emerged for the third set they knew they couldn’t afford another loss. Something however seemed to have stirred within them, whether it was a passion, an insatiable drive for success, the desire to hurry up and have a mince pie, no one truly knows.  What was clear is that this blue team is a force to be reckoned with. As Monika began her turn at serving no one could have predicted that 7 points later she would still be going, winding back her sculpted biceps to launch assault after assault on the passing of the yellow team. The yellows had no response. Helped by the one-of-a-kind hitting of Millie Parr, who continues to shut down those doubters who say a two-handed spike makes no sense, and the resilient passing of Anna and Annie, the Blues ran out 25-18 winners in the third set.

And so it came to the fourth act of this volleyball play. Webster and McCabe roused their team from the disappointment of the third set, whilst Wilsher downed his daily medicinal pint of gravy and urged his team to keep fighting. The start of the set was an evenly matched affair, with both teams baying for the others blood, waiting for the first mistake, the first sign of weakness which they could capitalise on. What no one could have predicted was that Mariam Sulieman, watching on as a dutiful line-judge, would provide the turning point. Throwing the ball back to the players, Mariam’s phone saw its chance for freedom and burst from her pocket arcing high into the air, without blinking however Mariam reached out and plucked the phone from its almost certain doom, exclaiming loudly as she did so. The crowd went absolutely bananas. Many had lost their phones in similar circumstances, and knew the pain it would have caused her, however here they knew they had witnessed something truly majestic. Or that may just be my opinion. Whatever.

This act however was enough to break the concentration of the Blue team, who suddenly found themselves at the mercy of a barrage of hits and serves from the Yellows. Morale dropped and despite Kerstin’s efforts at raising spirits by aiming a weighty kick at the ball and missing completely, the Blues were a broken team. The Yellows pushed home their advantage and took the set 25-16, helped by more fantastic passing from Minodora and Vera, coupled with a fantastic series of serves by Gillingham, overcoming her earlier problems with the eagle-eyed (some might say harsh, others would say stop putting your foot on the line) foot-fault spotting of referee House, and consequently the game 3-1 – cue joyous celebrations on the sidelines as Webster and McCabe embraced tenderly before heartily congratulating the victorious seven Yellows and commiserating with Wilsher’s Blues.

Both teams should be proud of the volleyball prowess they displayed. The improvement of all of the girls continues to astound and inspire everyone who has had the honour of coaching them.

Congratulations to the Yellows and best of luck in the next round!

Thanks to Millie Mercer and Dasha Selivanenko for scoring, to Sarah McGaw for 2nd Reffing, to Mariam Sulieman and Beccy Cartwright-Riley for line judging and finally to myself, John House, for the most majestic display of refereeing the world has ever known.

By John House

Victorious Yellow Team
Victorious Yellow Team
Blue Team
Blue Team
Ladies 1sts vs Bath 1sts 03/12/2014

Ladies 1sts vs Bath 1sts 03/12/2014

Match Report

Let me tell you a magical story: a long time ago, on the 3rd of December, Father Christmas took 13 of his hardest working lady-elves to Bath where they were to compete in the annual Bauble-ball games, a prestigious event among the elfish community.

After a treacherous sled ride through the mountainous regions of Keynsham and Oldfield, and a brief pit stop to re-energise on mince pies and mulled wine, the elves were ready to carve a trophy shaped toy just in time for Christmas.

Overseeing the game was Neil, an especially bumptious reindeer, who blew his whistle to begin the game. Father Christmas, arriving just in time, arranged his elves into a menacing formation and round 1 could commence. Off to a remarkable start, Santa’s side smashed bauble after bauble into the opponents court leaving them too much mess to sweep up in time. The set concluded 25:18 and was “actually kind of fun” (Chelf Nordal, 2014).

Moving into round 2 Santa’s side, feeling uncharacteristically smug, crafted several 3-touch presents for their opposition who, suffering from a sever lack of festive cheer, failed to prove worthy competitors. Special mention to Lara Croftmas and Fede-up-of-waiting-for-snow who varied their attack so sublimely and Cathermince Pie for one spectacular chicken-winged pass that defied the beliefs of many. With some consistent play from the infallible Kristmas Karol, the elves wrapped up the set 25:21.

Easing off the elbow grease and daydreaming of hand-made train sets, the elves let the Bath side gain some frosty ground. With work to be done Father Christmas made some substitutions; on came Abivent Calendar and Kirsty-the-Kristmas-turkey who formed a formidable block. With some devious tipping from the Duchess and some not-so-intentional (more like accidental) tipping from captain chrimbo, Santa’s side were fighting back. Skating on ice too thin though, the elves lost round 3 by an infuriating four points.

The 4th round brought much of the same frustration for the elves, with the addition of one particularly humorous misinterpretation. Neil the naughty reindeer, clearly bitter for not making Santa’s sled-squad this year, delivered a red Christmas card to the team for the intentional delay of the game…The elves, feeling shaken and deeply misunderstood, were unable to hold their lead and lost the round 25:18. Stockings off to Rudolph, in for captain crimbo, for some superb passing.

In the 5th and final round Santa’s side found some inner strength and climbed the Christmas tree to the top where they delicately placed the Star of Bethlehem. 15:13 to the elves, a Christmas miracle.

Elf of the match: Kristmas-Karol for her reliable and enthusiastic presents (ho ho ho) on court.

Surrey Ladies’ 1st v Bristol Ladies’ 1st 26/11/14

Surrey Ladies’ 1st v Bristol Ladies’ 1st 26/11/14

Match Report

For their first trophy match of the season Bristol Ladies’ 1st’s travelled down to Surrey on Wednesday 26th November. With 3 consecutive wins under their belt over the last 3 weeks, the Ladies were keen to keep the ball in their court.

The beginning of the game was promising, with both teams defending well, as Catherine ‘The Wall’ Wright lived up to her reputation yet again. Feeling a little snoozy, however, Bristol let the first set slip away by 2 points.

The second set brought not only a slightly confused, yet determined Abi Wooden to serve, but also a new, rather unexpected, formation to the stage: Lorena Bălan would go in for opposite, while Lara Karam would switch to outside. The recipe for success, coming from mediterranean sous-chef and coach Lorenzo Marvulli, was a huge hit; the Ladies had woken from their slumber, the lights were on AND someone was home. The spikes, now coming in strong, brought Bristol back into the match and the set concluded 25:18, or something like that.

The third set continued in a similar fashion, with mighty serves by Celestine Weegenaar and precise sets from Cheryl Nordal, as well as a consistent level of aggressiveness that would intimidate any team, slamming the floor Federica-style on every good serve and cheering as loud as the bench. Bălan, shouting ‘out’ at every ball as if commanding the ball to move further from the line, made a few of her team-mates jump. Surrey, shaken now, called a time-out and Bristol welcomed the rest. The Ladies’ mooched back on court but not in good time. The referee, desperate to show his new Volleyball England magic trick, conjured a yellow card and pronounced Lorenzo officially ‘warned’. Not his first, he assures us.

The fourth set saw a revival of the Surrey team as their well-coordinated defence returned every ball, causing frustration and impatience on the Bristolian side of the net. After a well-needed time-out called by the guests, Bristol entered the court determined not to let the match slip into a fifth set (and to prove that the delay penalty from the previous set was unjustified). With great passes coming from Ellie Harrison and the libero Karoline Drønnen, Bristol closed the gap to 5 points. At 15-18 Weegenaar entered the court to serve, and almost made it to the end of the match, stopping at 24-19. “Big hits. I trust you” whispered the setter to the opposite, as they planned a swift end of the game. As promised Cheryl sets middle and Bălan attacks a decisive ball that pierces through the block and couldn’t be returned to Bristol’s court, closing the set at 25-20 and the game 3-1 to Bristol.

Player of the match: Lorena Bălan, obviously.

Written by Lorena Bălan.

Bristol Men’s 1st’s vs USW Pontypridd & Cardiff 2nd

Bristol Men’s 1st’s vs USW Pontypridd & Cardiff 2nd

Match Report

On Wednesday 26th November, Bristol Men’s 1st team were due to host University of South Wales Pontypridd & Cardiff 2nd team in the BUCS Western Conference Cup. In what was to finally be their first home game of the season, the Men arrived early at Tyndall Avenue to take in the atmosphere. After cheering on the Netball team to a fantastic win over the University of Chichester, it was time to take their place on court to warm up.

First however, a dedication. This was to be the last ever University of Bristol Volleyball match for setter Tim ‘Timderella’ Ballard. Having arrived at the club shortly before the season started, timid, quiet and claiming not to have played since his youth (a long, long time ago), Tim nonetheless quickly settled in. Immediately building up a close friendship with the rest of the 1st team, he also became the first choice setter and over the course of the season has been ever dependable. However, there was one particular relationship that Tim made that changed everything. An expert on social dating app Tinder, Tim was surprised when he found love elsewhere – right here in the volleyball team. As soon as he set eyes on fellow setter Chris Sherfield, he knew there would be something special and their relationship blossomed. Often seen frolicking together on Brandon Hill, writing love poems for each other whilst gazing at the stars, the two quickly became known as ‘Ballfield’. But in this cruel world that we live in, circumstances interrupted and it wasn’t to be – Tim was leaving Bristol to go back to the land of kangaroos and barbecues. The whole team was naturally tearful, however this could also have been a result of Pawel Laskowski’s unwashed match shirt, which was giving off a distinctive vinegary smell which he claims was due to the cream he had applied to his shoulder.

Anyway, on to the match. Supported by a wealth of Bristol volleyball’s finest, the Men were without doubt the most inspired team to ever grace Tyndall Avenue. Helped by a sign that at different points in the game read ‘Bristol’ ‘Istol’ and ‘StolB’, the crowd were baying for Welsh blood like Romans at the Coliseum and the Men, particularly Plinio who continues to make his intentions to murder opposing volleyballers all too clear, were eager to put on a show.

Probably the highlight of the game came during the warm up, when captain John House rose up to hit. He pounded the ball down magnificently into the floor, only to watch it bounce up and go straight into one of the basketball hoops at the end of the court, receiving the biggest cheer of the day from the watching crowd.

USW started the game by serving, but failed to actually get the ball over the net. Onto Sherfield to serve, who racked up an impressive 8 points in a row without reply – probably not helped by one of the USW players’ unorthodox style of using his head to receive a serve. As the set progressed, Bristol’s opponents had nothing to return and the Men continued to assert their authority, with Laskowski resorting to standing serves after becoming too tired from jump-serving so many into the court – much to the delight of the terrified USW receivers. Some excellent blocking from Mike Wilsher and hitting from House and Plinio meant that Bristol stormed through the first set, finishing 25-7 much to the delight of their onlooking fans.

Onto the 2nd set, where Bristol made a number of changes. Ballard came on to play his final game for the club, whilst Oscar Parsley (having spent hours perfecting the position of his GoPro camera to catch him playing), Kevin Bonnot, Jacob Webster and Duncan McCabe replaced the previous lineup as hitters. Bristol started well, continuing to take the advantage; however, concentration started to slip and USW were allowed to get back into the game to make it 18-16 to Bristol. Attempting to strengthen the first receive, Coach Danielle Simpson brought on experienced Club Captain Rob Pennifold, who naturally shanked the first three balls that came his way. Regardless, Bristol rose their game again and ran out set winners at 25-22.

The third set began in much the same way and although USW began to score a few points, some excellent passing from libero Justin Hui and strong hitting from new introduction Kong and the rest of the Bristol team meant that the Men took the lead comfortably. Ballard’s setting was strong, with one particular set placed perfectly to outside hitter McCabe. The Canadian leapt like a salmon, towering over his opponents who were gaping in awe both at his impressive moustache, and at their impending doom. Unfortunately, McCabe forgot to actually hit the ball and it spun off his elbow to land on his side of the net. Bristol still exercised their dominance and as the set drew close to its conclusion, House took it upon himself to ensure Ballard’s final few points were smothered with glory. Watching the ball passed up from his team, the Bristol captain charged to the ball, desperate to set the ball up for Ballard to smash. Perhaps it was the height difference, or maybe it was the adrenaline, but House completely failed to see Hui waiting patiently underneath the ball to set it up. Hui’s short frame was at the mercy of House’s knees as they crashed together, causing much wailing and some laughter from the bench; needless to say the set was useless and Bristol lost the point. Bristol however soon found themselves at match point and Ballard looked to restore some glory with his last ever set for Bristol, destined to be a perfect height and position on the net for McCabe to smash the ball down… However, the set was nowhere near that quality and Bristol again failed to win the point. Luckily, USW returned true to form, serving the ball into the net to give the set to Bristol at 25-12 and thus the match 3-0.

Unsatisfied that the win had been enough to impress the crowd, many of whom were made up of the Ladies’ 2nd team, the Men chose to ‘warm down’ by performing an extremely aggressive and masculine set of press-ups. Unfortunately, this appeared to backfire when it came apparent that the Ladies were far more capable of doing press-ups themselves than the Men, who disappeared to warm down more effectively.

One final twist to the adventures of Ballard: as the team were warming down, Simpson shrieked with delight when she discovered she had found ‘Timderella’ himself on her version of the popular dating app. Did she swipe right or did she swipe left? We may never know.

Honorary player of the match, as is customary when a player leaves, goes to Tim Ballard for being such a great setter in his limited time with us and an even better friend. The actual player of the match, however, goes to captain John House for an excellent hitting and blocking display, an award that is rare due to his modest, unassuming nature, plus the fact that he usually writes the match reports, and nothing at all to do with his usual level of performance.

Our thanks go to all the watching supporters, you were truly marvellous! Thanks also to Tim Clifford and his measuring tape for refereeing, to Vessy Dobreva for second reffing, to Millie Mercer and Milly Roper for scoring and to Charlotte Edge and Lucy Rosser for line judging.

Written by Rob Pennifold

Yellow Team – Ladies 2nds – B&DVA Tournament 22/11/2014

Yellow Team – Ladies 2nds – B&DVA Tournament 22/11/2014

Match Report

“Biff it”, “Composure”, “Unleash the fury” – just a few of the commonly used phrases that could be heard from the sidelines throughout Saturday’s tournament. In case you were wondering where these wise words of wisdom were coming from, the culprit was coach John House, who could be found supporting his team – The Sunshine Yellows – enthusiastically throughout the tournament.

Despite the day getting off to a slow start with captain Millie’s rather entertaining encounter with the bus driver – a serious miscommunication that forced the bus to leave 20 minutes late –the Sunshine Yellows were not deterred from giving it all they had in their first game. Although it took a few missed serves and some frantic positioning to get into the game, the Sunshine Yellows soon got into their stride. With Coach House’s inspirational phrases resonating in their ears, the dig-set-spike trio was soon put into motion, and turned the yellow’s luck right back around. With great serving from Simran, some awesome hits from Charlie and good setting from Abi, there was no telling where this team could go. With a well-earned 6-point difference between the Sunshine Yellows and the worthy winners, Vollymates, the yellows had the confidence boost they needed to start the day.

The second game got slightly more personal, as the impending rivalry of coach House and coach Sherfield came to a head, with trash talk and evil glares encompassing the court. Despite losing his team somewhere in the confines of the sports centre, the Sunshine Yellows were given the pep talk of their lives by Coach House. Coin toss won, the yellows were off to a good start as their secret weapon, Simran, was “unleashed” onto the opposing team. Three great serves down, the Sunshine Yellows were looking good. However, things took a turn for the worst as the “Devil Red’s” powerful server, Emily Daykin, “unleashed” her own comeback on the game. Although the Sunshine Yellows put up a great fight with hits from both Bryony and Lucy, the other teams good blocking and a tragic net entanglement from Abi meant that the Devil Reds gained a lead that we weren’t able to claw back. All-in-all a mostly “composed” game.

With one Bristol 2nd team down, and another to go, the much anticipated show-down between off-court haircut buddies, coach House and coach Wilsher, came to head at exactly 11:34am. For the duration of 18 minutes, the tension could’ve been cut with a knife, and the Sunshine Yellows and “Sky-High Blues” could be found giving it all they had on Court 1. Despite the inevitable pressure on both teams, the Sunshine Yellows rose to the challenge, with Millie’s awesome serving and her unconventional two handed spikes taking them into the lead – her energy perhaps assisted by the coffee she had spilt all over herself. Although there was a loss of the all-important ‘composure’ in the middle – it was mostly due to Coach House on the sideline – and thus on court, Bryony’s great spike, and Abi’s “punch” hit helped win the Yellows the game with an 8-point lead! Go Yellows!

The remainder of the day took the Sunshine Yellows on a bit of a rollercoaster, with their unleashed fury giving them the energy they needed to carry them through the tournament. Although they lost to their toughest opponents, UWE, the game saw a great set-and-hit from “dream team” Abi and Charlie, whilst Sarah’s good passing and Bryony’s “shoulder hit” helped us win some much deserved points. Everyone should also be commended for taking on the sometimes-brutal hits raining down from the UWE side in a superb show of bravery.

Despite losing against the Bristol firsts, the game had some highlights that left the Sunshine Yellows with their heads held high. Well, all of us except Charlie who felt that head butting the back wall mid-dig would really contribute effectively to the game! Unconventional techniques were definitely at the forefront of our minds, though Millie’s great block, Bryony’s awesome serving and Abi’s inadvertent backcourt hit that caused gasps of astonishment from the watching coach, meant this was by far our most eventful game.

However, special acknowledgement has to go to Lucy Rosser, as her endeavours at volleyball outshone us all in our last game against Taunton. Firstly, her attempt to kick a rogue ball whilst sat down on one of the side benches, left her on her back with flailing arms and legs that was reminiscent of an over-turned beetle. I am glad to inform you that the comedic value of this up-and-coming player did not end there; her later attempt to dig a ball (into oblivion) meant it got stuck in the rafters with no plans to come back down without significant encouragement.

All-in-all an extremely “composed” and “biffing” day, with the Sunshine Yellows proving their ability to unleash all forms of fury on any opponent willing to take up the challenge!

8 Games – 8 Moral Victories – 1 Actual Victory – 7 Valiant losses

 

By Abi Hack

 

Red Team – Ladies 2nds – B&DVA Tournament 22/11/2014

Match Report

Having only been informed of my job as match reporter at Lunch I hope you will forgive me if my memories of the day are a tad hazy. Oh well, as I sit here with my scotch pancakes (considered an essential by Waitrose) I hope this report will reassemble more or less the multitude of events that occurred on that fateful day.

On the 22nd November the Bristol Reds emerged for the first time in Volleyball history, the happenings that followed were momentous. The task ahead was not for the faint hearted but even though the team had only been forged a few days before, the bonds between us were so strong that even in times of extreme awkwardness after losing some 8 points in a row we pulled through with a skip in our step and continued to improve.

The journey in for the ‘Stokie B’ peeps, myself included, went smoothly at first thanks to Milly the Vets stolen Sat-Nav, then disaster struck when we found ourselves in one of the notorious suburban mazes of England, dread was installed in our hearts for the Sat-Nav was abandoned and we had to rely on old fashioned wit to escape. One way roads caused a few obdurate moments but finally we emerged and made it to the Bristol Metropolitan Academy.

Our journey was nothing in comparison to the turmoil that ‘went down’ on the bus. Captain Millie’s rendition of the bus journey during lunch was so vivid that for a moment, in my tired delusional state, I thought I was actually there witnessing her argument with the bus driver, who was incidentally, I quote, ‘an absolute nob’ead’ in regard to the abominable price of the tickets. Fortunately (apart from the bus being late) we all made it in one piece and were ready to face our enemies in matches designed to test everything we have come to learn and love about Volleyball.

The Red team assembled. A cosmopolitan bunch, consisting of the most brilliant people from all corners of the earth (excuse the mathematical conundrum). The Bristol Reds emerged in style and you could tell the other teams were envious of our attire, for we no longer wore baggy t-shirts but cloths fit for Olympians. On the subject of clothing the turn out from spectators was quite extraordinary, from the classic ‘keep calm and play volleyball T-shirt’ to my absolute favourite, the Hogwarts jumper… pretty casual if you ask me. Footwear wise, not many surprises, although one girl’s trainers look like they had strutted out of an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I understand that some of you reading this will be so tall you can’t see people’s feet…unlucky: they were quite a spectacle.  Our outfits combined with our red nail varnish blew the other teams out of the water and we definitely won ‘best turned out’. In terms of actual play we fought gallantly from the first whistle until the last funny claxon noise.

In our first match we were caught unaware in the first few minutes due to limited warming up time (thank you Mr. Busman) and our opponents Bemi, were able to stride ahead. Morale plummeted before it had had a chance to rise but thanks to Captain Millie’s bellowing of ‘C’mon you Reds’ we were able to regain composure and quickly became more than worthy opponents. Despite our best efforts the game sadly resulted of a loss of 17-33 but this was early days and as true professionals we took loss on the chin looking onwards and upwards.

The discussion after the match with Chris involved serious tactics as well as causal nattering.  During one of these casual discussions about how the room looked like a scene from ‘High School Musical’, Chris for some reason immediately exclaimed ‘I expect I would be the gay one’. No one knows why this was blurted, but let’s just say it was before he had his nails painted. Chris’ coaching was glorious, with him choosing not to adopt John’s ‘controversial’ approach of firing balls at his team nor Mike’s pre-prepared inspirational quotes.

The second game was closest to our hearts for it was against our fellow UOB team- the Yellows, the spectators came in their tens to watch the biggest game of the day. We spent the valuable time before the game enhancing our play whilst the opposing coach John simply lost his Yellow team. Our newly installed confidence served us well and in the first few minutes we established a lead. The yellows, our friends became foes for that half an hour but they fought on admirably and around the half-way point the scores were pretty even, it was anyone’s game. Every now and then we had a moment of sheer brilliance, for with some beautiful setting, hitting became an actual possibility! Mariam began to establish a solid victory jiggle at the end of each point we won keeping morale at its highest. The match was very close, but in the end the Reds brought it home with a victory of 36-26. At this point we were pretty chuffed for the most important game of the day had been won. Celebration was called for and Millie quickly scuttled off to bring us the triumphant brownies, complete with swirls of white chocolate.

The match against the Hornfield Hornets was particularly tough. Even though the Hornets looked more like bumblebees they were rather good to say the least… and we suffered our worst defeat of 43-19. At this point we were all staring to look a little peaky but luckily team bonding on court combined with Brownies kept us in good humour. O goody!

By the time the fourth game came along, thanks to Chris’ coaching the hitters had started dropping back from the net ready to receive from the setters, this drastically improved our play. We took the ‘W plus one’ formation while serve receiving, notice the technical lingo we all picked up (courtesy of Chris) This once again secured us many successes during games.

During the match against our close neighbours Bath University it appeared that the seagulls from ‘Finding Nemo’ had entered the building. ‘Mine!’ was shouted (with far more conviction and passion that was by the seagulls) from all sides of the court and to our delight Emily zoomed around taking many a vicious ball. During this game we also unleashed our secret weapon, Russian Dasha, who began to serve like a boss to the other team’s dismay. The brownies had certainly upped the ante and all was going swimmingly when disaster struck. Minodora, in throwing herself to the floor during a courageous drive injured her knee. Her sacrifice was felt by all as we fought on in her honour but unfortunately lost 22-37. Bath were a respectable team and the small margin of their win displays our heroic advances.

I’m not going to lie, in regard to the match against Volleymates, I can’t remember anything apart from the fact it happened. The score was 35-21 to them.

Taunton (despite our original scepticism in hearing of the Bristol 1sts lost to them) was the match in which we all enjoyed the most, for we put up a pretty good fight. Despite Minodora’s cruel demands of pain from her knee she soldiered on, once more unto the breach with her fellow reds. Nothing could stop our Volleyball fervour, each time our hearts sunk our team bond reinstalled our drive for excellence. Our hitting became more ferocious, at one point Dasha, doing her fellow reindeers proud managed to take off and slam the ball down with such conviction that a small crater was created in the floor. Milly the Vet, dominated the back of the court with some exquisite passing. After splendid efforts we lost 19- 31, but as I said Taunton did beat the Bristol Firsts so we kept calm and carried on.

Lunch, was pretty eventful to say the least. We reminisced about the night of ‘team bonding’ before which was hosted by Millie the Medic at her charming house, complete with period features, chandelier and bunting: basically the best place ever. Milly the Vet had some of the left over pizza for lunch but unfortunately not with the garlic dip. For those of you who don’t know Millie Mercer has never found anyone who does not like the dip. If you for any reason do not like the dip do not tell Captain Millie for I fear you might end up at the bottom of the River Avon. The controversial topic of whether a Jaffa cake is a cake or a biscuit quickly cropped up, and a heated debate pursued. For the bimbos amongst you, it is a cake, and this is backed up by international tax laws. No Jokes: Google ‘Jaffa Cakes Tribunal’ for more information. To summarise Mcvities won the case against HMRC ensuring that they did not have to pay VAT as cakes are exempt from such tax, unlike their cousins the biscuit family. Not only are they delectable but they are always a fine investment due to their relatively cheap price.  Another interesting topic arose when Tim announced the reason why he took up volleyball: because he ‘rather liked Dutch and French girls’, those present were not surprised by this revelation. We ate like kings and luckily had to return to the Volleyball caught before we turned into Heffalumps, but not before importantly cleansing our pallets.

Our next opponents:  Volleywood. A great name it cannot be denied, but they did not live up to it for to our dismay there was no dancing whatsoever on court (apart from Mariam). A concrete start once again from both teams and with victory jiggles and high fives we improved with every move we made, single touch volleyball was a thing of the past and three touches were used remarkably frequently.  Our two setters, Captain Millie and Mariam had become well accomplished at not only setting but also staying at the net by this point. It may come as a surprise given the phenomenal improvement we were making but we regrettably lost this game 20-38 to Volleywood.

Between matches we psyched ourselves up once more, popping pills, the pro plus kind, and brownies too. The Cardiff Falcons…. Need I say more? They were rather good, but it is best not to linger on such things. We rummaged through our brains looking for a bird of prey to represent our team, this did not go well as the first suggestion from Captain Millie was a Vulture…awkward as they are obviously scavengers, not birds of prey. (You may be able to see why Articulate the night before was a struggle for all) The Falcons lived up to their name being swift in their attacks and giving Dasha the reindeer’s flying skills a run for their money. I am running out of synonyms for unfortunately, but we forlornly lost this game too, 21-38, to the Falcons.

Although this was our last game we left that day proud of our achievements, especially as we had won against the yellows. The Reds were all exhausted apart from Milly the Vet, who does not sweat and looked as fresh as ever. How she does it, nobody knows. An incredible team effort from all, the volleyball treasurer would be foolish not to commission a painting of our glorious struggles in the face of danger, preferably an oil canvas please.

Man of the Match: Emily Daykin

By Hattie Freer-Smith

Blue Team – Ladies 2nds – B&DVA Tournament 22/11/2014

Match Report

Bristol Ladies 2nds BLUE:
Charley Edge (acting captain), Morgane Singh, Tori Doyne-Ditmas, Zoe Holt, Natalie Jennings, Annabel Rogers, Olivia Bailey, Maria Jesus Medina Valcarcel

All the girls arrived at the bus station at the ungodly hour of 8 o’clock filled with enthusiasm for the long day ahead which, for most of us, was the first volleyball tournament with Bristol Uni. After a rather uneventful bus journey, we arrived at the venue: Bristol Metropolitan Academy and were given our schedule for the day. We were to play 8 matches against some of the hardest teams in the south west. We had an hour and a half after arriving until our first match and so coach Mike gave us some much-needed tactical advice choosing Charley, Morgane and Annie as setters for the day, with Maria and Natalie on first service where possible. Even though we lost all our matches, the volleyball skill played throughout the day was incredible, and the improvement was unreal! We had some great team spirit and I’m so proud of the girls for never giving up and fighting to the last point of every single match!

Player of the day has to go to Maria for some amazing volleyball! It goes without saying that she is probably the best server Bristol University has ever seen but also played some fantastic digs and spikes, with some James Bond-esque dives and rolls.

 

Game 1- Bristol Blues vs Bemi VC (10-32)

Player of the Match: Charley, for what Mike has described “impeccable setting”

After a relentless bombardment of fantastic serving from the opposition, we fell behind 11-0. Bristol Blues did not waver and stayed strong against the attack and, after some excellent 3-touch volleyball from our side, we pulled it back 12-3 and started to see some hope! This was quickly taken away from us by some incredible play by Bemi, showing their skill and experience, and they quickly increased their lead. As the match went on, there was some great improvement by all our girls with some great passing from Morgane, to setter Charley to form some great rallies between the two teams. The match ended in what felt like the longest rally ever played, where Zoe played the most incredible dive without knee pads as a true show of dedication to the team.

Game 2- Bristol Blues vs Bristol Yellows (27-35)

Player of the Match: Maria, for her unbelievable serving

This was probably the most closely played game of the day, as both teams were well matched with skill and neither of the coaches wanted to lose to the other. All the girls seemed to just settle into their positions on court and there was some fantastic passing to set up some great 3-touch points. There are two stand-out points from this game: Maria’s absolutely incredible serving, giving Bristol Blues 12 points in a row against the opposition and then Natalie’s fantastic ace followed swiftly by a serve which, had the roof of the gymnasium not stopped it, would have probably continued out into orbit. Zoe’s incredible diving without knee pads must also once again be applauded.

Game 3- Bristol Blues vs Bristol University 1st Team (16-45)

Player of the Match: Zoe, for some great passing

All the girls were slightly nervous before starting the game, but Maria raised all our spirits with a fantastic pre-match talk and we went in ready to fight. We started strong, with the points fairly even until about half way. For some unknown reason (probably the forcefulness of the oppositions spikes), the girls then suddenly went quiet and the game was lost in the middle with Bristol 1st team taking the score to 20-10. We continued to play some good volleyball, taking back a few points, but the difference was just too much to be made up. Zoe played some fantastic back-court passes to the setters, with every dig perfectly executed.

Game 4- Bristol Blues vs Bath University 2nd Team (23-44)

Player of the Match: Olivia and Morgane, for great serving

We started this match shaky and a little bit tired as the day’s matches began to take their toll on the team, but we fought back well, particularly towards the end of the match when we really started to pull points back from the opposition. The serve-receive was solid and all the girls really started to move well on the court, calling for the balls and passing them perfectly to the front court for the setter. Morgane and Olivia share player of the match because both girls showed Bath some strong service, impeccably placed into their weakest spots. Two girls, however, seemed to forget some of the rules of the game, with Charley catching a powerful spike instead of digging it, and Natalie going to take a shot but then somehow rolling under the net instead (much to the amusement of Bath and the Bristol Yellow referees)!

Game 5- Bristol Blues vs UWE VC (10-40-something, we all lost count)

Player of the Match: Maria, for getting to almost every ball of the match and acing UWE

All the girls has watched UWE play at least one match throughout the day and has surrendered themselves to defeat before the match even started. However, Captain Charley had not seen them play and so entered the court with bright enthusiasm. This was quickly tested by UWE as they turned out to be the most formidable opponents of the day, and took Bristol Blues 23-0. Charley and Maria ran at least 10k between them during the match, trying desperately to chase every ball and get one touch. Maria once again did the whole team proud and played some really high quality volleyball. After a 23 point streak by UWE, Natalie was up for service and played the most incredible ace which will never be forgotten. The score board read 23-1 and the noise in the room from the Bristol Blue girls on court, the refereeing team and everyone spectating would have truly put Wembley to shame. Natalie, however, then took Charley’s lead from the previous match and went on to catch the ball instead of hitting it. She then went on to unexpectedly duck one of the most powerful spikes ever seen at the last minute, leaving Charley unprepared and taking the hit straight on the chin. Thanks to some rather lax refereeing allowing many faults by our girls, the final score board was a little more bearable.

Game 6- Bristol Blues vs Taunton VC (18-40)

Player of the Match: Annie, for some outstanding setting

Coach Mike forgot to make notes during this match and so there isn’t really a lot to be said. I’m sure we all played great volleyball and the team spirit was surely as high as ever. All that was written on the page for this match was that Annie played some outstanding blocking and serving, setting the team up every time for some lovely 3-touch rallies.

Game 7- Bristol Blues vs Horfield Hornets VC (17-46)

Player of the Match: Natalie, for outstanding all round play

The match started well for Bristol and the score-board looked fairly even. Natalie played some outstanding volleyball throughout the match with two particularly good blocks, a variety of well-placed passes and some powerful spikes. It was almost a one-man team as the other girls took some well-needed rest, watching Natalie in awe. Somehow, in the middle of the match, the game was passed to the opposition and they took the game to 46-17.

Game 8- Bristol Blues vs Volleywood (10-32)

Player of the Match: Tori, for some great passing

One would have thought that after 6 hours of volleyball and 7 losses, the Bristol Blue girls would be tired and defeated. If you thought that, you would be very wrong. The girls were revived for the last match with some French enthusiasm from Morgane and a new slogan: Allez les Blues (which none of us could really say properly and so ended up being more of a random babble with a French accent). Tori played some excellent back-court positioning and seemed to run and get every ball which the other girls had left as impossible. She then played some technically brilliant digs to the front court girls where Zoe stepped in a setter during this match as both Annie and Morgane were off-court at the same time. She proved to be a very valuable player and set up some fantastic spikes. Coach Mike has written that point 4-19 was “a great point- dig, set, spike!!” Well done for that, girls!

By Charlotte Edge

Cardiff Ladies’ 1st v Bristol Ladies’ 1st 19/11/14

Match Report

On Wednesday 19th November Bristol Ladies’ 1st travelled once again across borders to confront their Celtic counterparts in a vengeful match so tense, one would be forgiven for thinking lives were on the line. After losing the home fixture last month by the smallest of margins and knowing a win was within their grasp, Bristol were desperate for revenge. Arriving punctually, the Ladies had time to absorb the atmosphere of their arena. Local spies spotted in the upper circle, blatantly attempting to catch wind of the team’s tactics, were chased away and the warm up commenced.

A much-needed team talk
A much-needed team talk

The 1st set was, undeniably, abysmal for Bristol. Clearly their close defeat to the Cardiff team 4 weeks prior was still playing on their minds and Bristol were shaky, shanking several balls far off court. A time out and team talk was what the Ladies needed, moving from 20:6 to 25:16. The first set was lost, but a little dignity was regained along with some momentum to take into the next set.

'De Hamer'
‘De Hamer’

With the service safely in her hands, Celestine ‘De Hamer’ Weegenaar brought Bristol into the 2nd set, and indeed the game. Following her lead, Lara Karam turned on the gas and fired up the furnace, hitting consistently between the flailing arms of the struggling Cardiff block. Some – out of character – strong serving from captain Ellie Harrison (actually managing to get the ball over the net and between the aerials) helped Bristol to build up a healthy lead over Cardiff.  A complete reverse of the 1st set, Bristol were running away with it. As ever, making a huge impression on the scoreline was Bristol’s No. 6 Federica Cimatti, who continued to use the weaker block on the Cardiff side to her advantage. The highlight for Cimatti came with the closing point, where, having hit tactically off the block she was able to watch with visible glee as the ball fell out. The set concluded 25:12 to Bristol.

Pint-size libero Drønnen passes
Pint-size libero Drønnen passes

Moving into the 3rd set and keeping the pressure on, Bristol continued to play effectively. Notable mentions go to pint-sized libero Karoline Drønnen, who without leaving the ground, hit a backcourt attack to put any outside hitter to shame, and to setter Cheryl Nordal, who on one particularly clever play, audaciously tipped the ball over the block to the barren landscape that was Cardiff’s backcourt. Bristol won the set 25:20, a close gap in score but a gaping rift in morale.

Smells like team spirit
Smells like team spirit

Into the 4th set and not willing to let their lead go, Bristol Ladies unleashed their feistiest manoeuvres to date. Middle hitters Kate Wyver and Catherine Wright built a roof (or ‘ROOOOOOOOOF’ to quote the enthusiastic sideline supporters) over the Welsh attack time and time again. Nordal let loose the cross-court serve that she’d cunningly been scheming for weeks. Cardiff’s chances of a comeback were hanging by a thread; however, not wanting to break away from UOB Volleyball tradition, the Ladies chose not to take the easy route.

We won!
We won!

After 4 painful match points, Bristol finally closed the game 25:21 and therefore undid the knot the Polish lothario and home leg referee Pawel Laskowski had excruciatingly woven all that time ago.

Player of the Match: Cheryl Nordal, for her consistently calm presence on court and intelligent play.

Written by Ellie Harrison

Photographs courtesy of Abi Wooden

Student Cup 2014 Men

Student Cup 2014 Men

Match Report

What. A. Day.

On the 16th November 10 plucky Volleyball Men and one enigmatic coach took the monumental journey down to Kettering to play in the student cup. Meeting at the ungodly hour of 5am and not returning until 11pm, the troops were to travel in one of two cars, the nippy Golf driven by Captain John ‘Lewis Hamilton’ House, where music choice was superb and leg room limited or in the lumbersome Focus of Chris ‘Nico Rosberg’ Sherfield, where the music was of the Taylor variety and conversation undoubtedly more mature.

Two cars. Two very different experiences. (Nothing to do with Volleyball, but got to set the scene).

First the Golf. The two journeys were stupendous. On the outward journey Jacob ‘Build me up Buttercup’ Webster took to the decks, ably supported by Rob ‘Grandad’ Pennifold, playing a number of outrageous hits from across the 70’s and 80’s, or in Rob’s case – His Childhood. Whilst Captain House did at times call for ‘Drivers Prerogative’ and play some astounding tunes such as the Lord of The Rings soundtrack (#inspiring), the men saw in the morning with no cares in the world. In the back of the car, Justin ‘Ebeneezer Snooze’ Hui and Duncan ‘One Man Party’ McCabe provided just the kind of controlled, seated dancing that they have become synonymous with. Despite shouts of ‘Jesus take the wheel’ when Captain House needed to remove a layer due to the rising heat of the car, a hastily eaten peanut butter sandwich and a couple of very wrong turnings, the men arrived safely and enthused. The return journey meanwhile saw a change on the decks, fresh from his journey North, Mike ‘Motown’ Wilsher provided the car with a wonderful playlist to lift spirits, whilst McCabe and Webster routinely updated the latest NFL scores at the sight of any internet signal. As for Justin, in what came as a shock to nobody, he slept.

Having been viciously chastised for not accounting for the details of the other car in previous reports, this one will be different. Whilst based on speculation and rumour, this is the events of Pippa the Focus. Whilst having the team coach in the car might suggest a serious undertone, the Focus was nothing short of a raucous early morning party. Fuelled by a seemingly endless supply of delicious blueberry muffins baked to perfection by Coach Danielle ‘Saxophone’ Simpson, the car was powered along not just by fuel, but also the dulcet tones of Taylor Swift. Whilst the music was vital, it was overshadowed by a more important conversation; with his impending departure, Tim ‘just have fun’ Ballard clearly felt the need to impart his teachings on the social dating app Tinder. Whilst before they entered the car the inhabitants were mere mortals within the dating game, they emerged new, revitalised ‘Swipe Righters’, their profiles adjusted to pin-point accuracy by Tim, with photos re-ordered, bios updated and matches flooding in. Unfortunately for one Pawel Laskowski, these moments of pure wisdom were missed, as despite adamantly stating he wouldn’t sleep, he was out before the engine was turned on.

I should probably talk about Volleyball now.

Due to the sheer number of games, the matches were only 2 sets long, with the overall points scored coming into account should both sides win one set.

The men’s first game of the day was against Oxford 1sts, a very strong side playing in a higher league. Undeterred, the men took to the court with a vivacious energy that blew away Oxford, taking a 5-0 lead before the Oxford men took a much needed timeout. Such was the arrogance of the Bristol side that Mike Wilsher at one point decided, that contrary to popular belief, hands were overrated, and thus instead blocked the Oxford hit with his face. Whilst Oxford did manage to fight back in the first set, eventually running out with 25-21 win, Bristol were undeterred. Pawel ‘Sugar Free’ Laskowski was superb, playing with the kind of relaxed self-belief that his fans know and love. Giving it their all, Bristol raised the intensity massively and walked all over their Oxford counterparts, taking a 25-14 win. Thus it was that Bristol took a win from their first game.

MOM – Tim Ballard

The Wilsher Family Meal
The Wilsher Family Meal

The break between games saw a number of obviously notable moments. Firstly Mike, supported by his dedicated parents throughout the day, took time to engage in a family meal, assumedly to discuss something Northern, like how gravy really can go with anything. Meanwhile House and Webster took great amusement in the other games occurring around the sports centre, particularly the Cambridge team, whose talisman Frank will long stay in our hearts. The team also had to referee a game, leading to a ‘flamboyance competition’ between line judges; McCabe, sticking with his critically acclaimed rigid style, taking the victory in this case, over Webster’s overtly dramatic lunge style.

The Men’s second game was against Newcastle Under Lyme, a very well drilled team. The Bristol men however were unfazed with Duncan hitting well through opposite, an effort only improved by the fact that his movember effort made him look like a 1970’s soft porn star. With the men keeping up the high intensity that the other teams just couldn’t handle they approached the end of the set with a 23-18 lead. After losing two points, Coach Simpson decided change was needed and decided to remove the emotional hub of the team that is Captain House, a decision that may have slightly annoyed that particular player. However, an immediate apology was offered when super sub Webster emphatically roofed the next Newcastle hit before then running a brilliant middle which gave the men the set at 25-20.

Danielle, I bow to your genius.

The next set was a similar affair, with Webster retaining his place on court and conducting the show like it was a BBC night at the Proms. Newcastle never stood a chance, with Justin ‘Sleeping Beaut-hui’ Hui, picking up every attack they attempted. Despite one exuberant attack resulting in Pawel ‘The Hitman’ Laskowski inadvertently punching Mike in the face, the men took the set 25-22 and thus once again – The Game.

MOM – Jacob Webster

The next break in games saw exhaustion kick in as many players grabbed their 40 winks wherever they could. As ever however, Webster and House took the chance to observe human life, noting with some displeasure the very public Tonsil Tennis played by Oxford’s number 20 ‘Du Plessis’ with what was assumedly his other half. If it wasn’t, fair play to the man. Meanwhile, Father Wilsher (Mikes Dad, not the team Chaplain), there to watch his son’s valiant efforts, came a cropper to a game on the opposing court, as the players ploughed through his chair. In completely untypical Wilsher fashion however he was able to brush it off, as the Bristol players assured a visibly concerned Michael that it was ‘merely a flesh wound’. Despite further drama in the form of Sherfield being almost taken out from atop his referee’s chair and Jacob’s head gracefully nuzzling Danielle’s rear in a moment that I feel needs no further description, the Men were ready for the next game.

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Alternative Rigid Sleeping Style
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Showing a bit of flesh – Cheeky.
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Without doubt listening to self help audio books. ‘You’re a Strong Confident Woman who does not need to smoke’

The 3rd game was against Nottingham, another team from a higher division, who also were unbeaten so far in the day. Bristol knew the importance of the game and once again gave the game everything they had. Plinio ‘Slumber Buddy’ Zanini was brilliant, spiking the ball with all his body had (which turns out is quite powerful). Chris ‘I’m not writing out your nicknames’ Sherfield took his chance at setter superbly, showing great promise for the rest of the season with the accuracy of a well-trained sniper shooting at a thread being placed through a needle. The men took the first set 25-16. At this point the energy reserves of the men began to waiver and at the start of the second set Nottingham did take the lead. Fighting back excellently through both Pawel and Grandad however Bristol secured the win by getting within 2 points of Nottingham, losing the set 25-23 but once again winning the game.

MOM – Justin Hui

The lack of energy at this point makes the next part of the day a bit of a blur. At some point we reffed a game, something mildly amusing probably happened, so for now I’ll just let your imaginations run away with themselves.

Having won their first three games, Bristol could secure a place in the next round with a final win against Liverpool. Liverpool were probably Bristol’s strongest opponents of the day, with very good hitters. The men however were undaunted and roused themselves one final time to take an early substantial lead in the first set at 19-11. With Pawel singing away merrily to himself ‘Breestol la la la’ and the men coming in for a booming ‘2-3 Bristol’ after every point, confidence was high. However as Liverpool began to find their feet it became apparent the earlier herculean efforts of the men were taking their toll. Small niggles of pain from early in the day became larger and despite their best efforts the men simply had no energy left to drag themselves back into the game, a factor perhaps epitomised by the fact that every team huddle became like taking a small bath due to the back sweat levels of certain players. (I know ewwww gross). Liverpool ran out with the first set at 25-22 and the second set 25-16.

A Visibly Shaken Tim Ballard
A Visibly Shaken Tim Ballard

What this meant unfortunately was that Bristol missed out on qualification by a mere 2 points. Whilst this is disappointing I cannot overstate the effort put in by all the men throughout the day. They gave their all in every game against opposition we would have crumbled against in previous years. They played a standard of volleyball that very high level teams would be proud of. They fought back in every set and left Kettering with absolutely nothing left to give.

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Coach Danielle Visibly Impressed by the Healthy Dinner

I speak for both myself and the coach Danielle when I say we are immensely proud of the efforts of each and every player. The men have hundreds of positives to take into the rest of the season and should be more than proud of themselves.

Player of the day, voted for by the team, goes to Tim Ballard for a superb day of setting.

Well done lads. We did Bristol proud.

 

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Legends of The Game

By John House

Men’s 1st’s V UWE 1st’s 15/11/2014

Men’s 1st’s V UWE 1st’s 15/11/2014

Match Report

On the 15th November, after what had seemed like a lifetime, the Men’s 1st team had a game against local rivals UWE in the B&DVA league.

With Mike ‘Michaels’ Wilsher choosing to place his trust in Bristol’s Public Transport system, the DJ’ing in Captain House’s nippy Golf was left down to Jacob ‘Who’s on Heart’ Webster who made the most of his opportunity, lifting the men to new highs with a cacophony of hits. Meanwhile, we can only assume Mike had his entire bus on its feet with his more traditional DJ set. Nevertheless, the journey to the game was otherwise annoyingly uneventful.

Arriving in splendid time, the Bristol men each set out their own objective for the game, an idea clearly lost in translation for the Brazilian wonder Plinio ‘Trainspotting’ Zanini who made clear his intentions to ‘kill someone’ unnervingly loudly. With an apparent murderous intent firmly in place Bristol began the first set. The men, unusually, started like a bullet out of a gun taking a 5-0 lead. From that point onward UWE weren’t even allowed a sniff of victory, with Pawel ‘Polish Church is basically pre-drinks’ Laskowski hitting well from the outside, helped by the solid setting of Tim ‘Swipe right’ Ballard. The set was nothing short of a raucous triumph for the Bristol side with everyone playing their part. Everyone that is, bar Rob ‘Princess Skype’ Pennifold, who, clearly hampered by his zimmerframe, failed to kill a ball when presented with no block. Despite this Bristol ran out 25-11 winners.

Eager to keep this winning momentum, the team was mixed up slightly, with Jacob ‘Who’s on Heart’ Webster, just as with his DJ skills, taking his chance brilliantly with a wonderful early middle hit that rendered everyone speechless. UWE certainly felt the need to step up their game in the face of such talent and did so, taking a lead away from Bristol, a lead that acted as some sort of legal high for their team, causing their players to become the kind of enthusiastic that goes just that little bit too far. With the majority of the Bristol team feeling pretty awkward, a few errors were made. However, rather than repeating the mistakes of last season and losing their composure the Bristol men recovered excellently, with Rob ‘Princess Skype’ Pennifold making up for his earlier mistakes with good hitting through outside, no doubt helped by his recent hip replacement. The men had once again found their rhythm and Chris ‘Be Careful, Menopause, Chin, Sweet, Ballfield, Toothbrush’ Sherfield began to set like a man with two working legs, feeding Laskowski, who at one point, unleashed a vicious spike into the sternum of the opposition Libero, an action for which he offered an apology, to much ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ from the watching female crowd. With such valiant actions like that, it’s no surprise his fan club is fast becoming the largest society at Bristol. With five match points, Bristol had the game in their hand. Obviously this caused them to throw away a few points, as who doesn’t love a bit of drama; however, a delicious block from Duncan ‘Oh Canada’ McCabe gave them the set 25-23.

As ever Justin ‘Snoozin’ Boyle’ Hui should be applauded for a solid and typically understated libero performance.

A 2-0 victory is the perfect momentum to take into the Student cup tomorrow and the Men should all be proud of their performances.

Our thanks go to the wonderful support we received from Cheryl, Abi, Catherine, Lara and Federica. It is massively appreciated! We hope we gave you a show to remember.

Man of the match goes to everyone’s favourite Northern Bumpkin Michael Wilsher for an exhibition of what it means to be a middle, both physically and emotionally.

By John House

Southampton Ladies’ 1st v Bristol Ladies’ 1st

Southampton Ladies’ 1st v Bristol Ladies’ 1st

Match Report

On Wednesday 12th November Bristol Ladies’ 1st took a trip down South to take on the league leaders, the University of Southampton, in a heroic battle to the death…sort of…not really…it was just a volleyball game to be honest. After a long journey and yet another batch of snoozing snaps, courtesy of middle hitter Catherine Wright who appears never to sleep (revenge will be sought), Bristol were itching to play.

Feeling uncharacteristically calm, the Ladies arrived on court with the confidence of a Bristolian umbrella vendor and opened the first set with the Dutch serving maestro that we all know and love, Celestine Weegenaar. Southampton, foolishly underestimating Bristol’s volleyballing prowess, put forward a shaky starting six who proved incapable of returning hits from Bristol’s attacking might of Federica Cimatti, Lara Karam and captain Ellie Harrison (inserted against Ellie’s will due to her admirable modest nature). Supported by some strong setting from Kahmun Hor, Bristol continued to put points on the board, with Wright closing the set 25:18 with an intrepid tip that skimmed the line with centimeters to spare.

Southampton, unsettled and unnerved, introduced some tougher cookies to the game. Warmed up and un-phased by their opponent’s team shuffle, Bristol reclaimed the service almost immediately and continued to play at a consistently high standard, with credit as always to the ever-dependable libero Karoline Drønnen. Special mention to Cheryl Nordal whose hands, soft as a silken sponge dipped in hand moisturizer in a bed of fresh linen, placed each ball with the precision of a needle. With this vivacious combo, the Ladies took the 2nd set at a leisurely stroll, running out 25:21 winners.

Not willing to relax into the 3rd set, the feisty Italian-French duo of Cimatti and Karam turned up the heat and forced error upon error on the wavering coastal dwellers, supported excellently by their Bristol hitting counterparts Rosie Walters and Abi Wooden, newly-introduced for this set. Emboldened by the fresh legs on court, the Ladies sailed through, concluding the set comfortably at a score of 25:14. An outstanding win for Bristol.

Players of the match: Federica Cimatti and Lara Karam

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Written by Ellie Harrison, with some intricate touches of genius from Rob Pennifold and John House

Bristol Men’s 2nd’s v Bemi VC & UWE 01/11/14

Bristol Men’s 2nd’s v Bemi VC & UWE 01/11/14

Match Report

On Saturday the 1st of November, the Men’s 2nd team journeyed to Bedminster Down School to face off against BEMI Volleyball Club and the UWE 1st team. After catching the first bus of the day, and in a couple of cases an incredibly rainy cycle down, Bristol arrived before both other teams and started getting ready to play.

Men2_1-11-14The first match of the day was Bristol vs. Bemi VC, where our heroes found themselves up against their own coach Tim Clifford, leaving them coach-less for the whole match. This was the first competitive match that the Men’s 2nd team had ever played, and despite the considerable age advantage that they had, Bemi came with years of experience playing together. Some great blocks by Jonny Childs were negated by some very harsh over the line calls by UWE referees. Unfortunately, Bemi VC proved too much for the still wet from outside Bristol team taking both sets 25-14.

Then Bemi VC came up against UWE, refereed by Jonny Childs and Mike Avery, with Jonny showing no mercy when it came to stepping over the centre line. It gave the Men a chance for a break and a chance to scout out for any of UWE’s potential weaknesses, which included a perpetually empty back right court and a seemingly manic fondness for tipping. Bemi were unsuccessful in beating UWE, losing 2 sets to 0.

Then the big moment came, Bristol vs. UWE. Although the Men’s 2nds had never played UWE, the ongoing rivalry that had gone back for generations across all sports went without saying, and now it was up to Bristol to show them who was boss. Now that the Men had their coach back, they could talk serious tactics. An impromptu decision led to Kenji Capannelli being appointed as the team’s first ever libero, and although only a few of the team had ever played with one, everyone was comfortable enough to try it.

Then the game began, and Bristol took the lead almost immediately with Kenji picking up many of the very hard hits and their tips being picked up as effortlessly. The set was shaping up to be Bristol’s, but unfortunately such is the nature of our unpredictable universe and nothing is certain, UWE managed to break away and take the first set 21-25. The Men were not to be perturbed however, they knew that they had them on the ropes for almost the entire first set and that the 2nd set was theirs for the taking. Call it an act of god, the 2nd law of thermodynamics, or the fact that they had never trained with a libero before, but the rotation soon became reminiscent of a Rubik’s cube. By the time it became clear what had happened it was too late to unscramble it and UWE were able to take the 2nd set from the still slightly confused Bristol team 25-17.

Seeing as this was the first time many of the team had played any competitive volleyball, despite losing both matches, this was a very impressive start to the season by the Men’s 2nd team. Now that they can incorporate a libero into training, and once everyone is completely comfortable with the positions and rotations, the Men should be able to give both teams a run for their money when they meet again in the new year.

Player of the match: Kenji Capannelli for a stellar performance after unexpectedly being asked to play libero.

Men2a-1-11-14

Written by Marcus Clifford

Swansea Ladies’ 1st v Bristol Ladies’ 1st 29/10/14

Swansea Ladies’ 1st v Bristol Ladies’ 1st 29/10/14

Match Report

On the 29th October the Ladies’ first team travelled to Swansea- not so easy on the eyes- University where they battled their Welsh foes tirelessly over 4 long sets.

Catherine Wright and Cheryl Nordal opened the match with a solid block that would put a wall to shame. Swansea were shaken and Bristol took an early lead. Feeling comfortable now, Bristol brought forward the Welsh defense with some brazen tipping before Bristol’s very own Feisty Federica unleashed the line shot she was born to deliver. Bristol took the first set 25:23 with ease.

Into the second set now and perhaps a little too comfortable; Swansea opened with some savage jump serving and Bristol’s confidence was knocked.  However, their favourite Dutch woman Celestine Weegenaar responded with some tactical serving of her own; soaring over the net, the ball appeared to be headed for the back line but with a change of wind the ball dropped at the Welsh feet, causing Federica to fall to the floor chanting “ACE ACE ACE” for what would turn out to be the only time she correctly identified an ace serve. The Ladies still love you Fede. Swansea fought back and the set was concluded at 17:25.

Moving into the 3rd set, Bristol welcomed Sabrina to the court, her first and very welcome appearance in the game. She casually and repeatedly spiked the ball cross-court without a single fluster. Swansea however, seemingly un-phased, responded with some superb attacking shots of their own and the set was closely tied. After some questionable calls from the ref (something to which we are quite accustomed to, thanks to the Polish enigma Pawel Laskowski), Swansea took the third set.

Now, under strict Italian instruction, Bristol needed to risk some new attacking shots. Lara Karam stepped up to the plate, moving the Welsh defense in and out like the tide of Swansea bay. Her efforts were valiant but unfortunately in vain as Swansea closed the fourth set 16:25.

Woman of the Match: Lara Karam

Written by Ellie Harrison

Men’s 1sts v Bemi Vc & Speedwell 25/10/2014

Match Report

On the 25th October the Men got their season underway with two fixtures against Bemi VC and Speedwell in the local B&VDA League. The team was missing some notable Polish and Brazilian faces, not to mention the Coach Danielle Simpson who had decided to spend her weekend running/swimming through mud. Each to their own I suppose.

The journey was classically adventurous; including the closure of a bridge, a wonderfully executed 3 car U-turn and most importantly some wonderful choices of music from DJ Mike ‘Michaels’ Wilsher that left the four members of the captain’s car feeling inspired. The side nevertheless was ready to play, with their new kit being lovingly worn by everyone apart from Kevin who had to use the captains spare shirt, thus making the Frenchman and the captain look like the most unlikely of brothers, one with devilishly good looks and piercing blue eyes, the other one gawkishly tall with the face of a much younger man/child.

But I digress… The Men’s first game was against Bemi VC, a side with a lot of experience playing together, unlike the fresh-faced legends on the Bristol team. With Rob ‘Princess’ Pennifold’s other-half present, surprisingly in person and not via Skype, the man from Brighton clearly felt the need to perform and indeed did so, combining well with Tim ‘Timder’ Ballard to put points on the board early for Bristol. The Men continued to play well, with one particular set to 4 from new French signing Kevin ‘J House’ Bonnot drawing gasps from the watching bench. Having done all the hard work at the start of the set however, the Men somewhat fell apart toward the back end, letting Bemi back into the game and allowing them to take the set at an agonising 26-24.

The Men started the second set with a heightened determination. Duncan ‘Macking’ McCabe took it upon himself to carry the team throughout the set with superb hitting through opposite, helped by the pin-point accuracy setting of Chris ‘Menopause, Be Careful, Chin’ Sherfield, who also may have too many nicknames. As the set came to a close with Bristol taking a solid lead, Jacob ‘Songbird of a Generation’ Webster, fresh from learning how to use his legs to jump in Thursdays training, leapt to block the Bemi VC attack, giving Bristol the set at 25-20.

The game now went down to a final, first to 15 set. The Men unfortunately seemed to lose their composure somewhat; however the captain, John ‘Should I refer to myself in 3rd Person?’ House is happy to take a lot of the flak, with some abysmal on court play that drew comparisons in his own mind to that of a headless chicken repeatedly flapping his arms at an oval object in some sort of hideous attempt to hit it. With the team presumably bemused by this image, Bemi VC took the set 15-11 and thus the game 2-1.

After some players had a good old sulk (naming no names), the Men were ready for their second game against Speedwell. Speedwell were a very strong outfit, with one particular player showing himself to be a very strong hitter… although he was also bald, proving nobody is perfect. Despite this the Men gave it their all in both sets, with Oscar ‘with your beard you look like a 1970’s serial killer’ Parsley coming off the bench to hit well. His hitting however was superseded by the efforts of one Marco ‘Shoelaces’ Lissoni, who after losing a shoe mid-point, disdainfully threw it toward the bench and continued on to block the Speedwell attack, showing the kind of spirit that Bristol conjures within you. With all the players doing themselves proud, Speedwell nonetheless took the first set 25-11.

The second set ran in a similar fashion, with all the players doing well and showing great promise for the rest of the year. Big Mike ‘Michaels’ Wilsher showed off those powerful Northern arms to hit well, whilst Duncan ‘Macking’ McCabe continued to impress. Even the Captain likes to think he slightly redeemed himself, as the red mist descended and he remembered how to play volleyball (sort of).  Once again Speedwell ran out winners, with a 25-13 scoreline and thus taking the game at 2-0.

Despite the two losses the Men have many many positives to take from the day. The potential is quite clearly there to be a team that can compete at a very high level. Your captain is proud (if that means anything).

Special mention goes as always to Justin ’59 comments’ Hui, who as ever was the unsung hero at Libero. He truly deserves praise as always.

Man of the Match in the first game goes to Duncan McCabe, whilst Kevin Bonnot takes the accolade for the second match.

Until the next time!

Written by John House

Bristol Ladies’ 1st v Cardiff Ladies’ 1st 15/10/14

Bristol Ladies’ 1st v Cardiff Ladies’ 1st 15/10/14

Match Report

On the 15th October 2014 the University of Bristol Ladies’ 1st team got their BUCS campaign started with a home fixture against the might of Cardiff. Given the international status of the fixture, the Ladies knew that they weren’t only playing for the pride of Bristol but also the pride of a nation, a nation in dire need of rejuvenation after the agonising Summer of sporting disappointment in the World Cup. The Ladies knew they were the team for the job.

Ladies_v_Cardiff_15_10_14The crowd at Tyndall Avenue was eager for a spectacle, however there were some early problems. Having clearly forgotten to check the memo, Cardiff turned up in a traditional red strip to face off against a Bristol side sporting a lovely, new, fresh, vibrantly red kit. Putting this problem aside, the new Ladies captain Ellie Harrison put aside her pre-toss nerves to call correctly – Bristol would serve first.

Bristol got off to an absolute flyer, gaining an early 4 point lead in the first set, thanks to some consistent passing from Bălan and Weegenaar. With the new-look side gelling instantly, the Ladies appeared a solid outfit sure to strike fear and envy into their opponents this year, with setter Nordal showing the softest of soft hands. Despite letting Cardiff back into the set slightly, the Ladies ran out 25-23 winners, taking an early 1 set lead.

Having been roused during the interval by a patriotic rendition of ‘Jerusalem’ by Jacob ‘Songbird of a generation’ Webster, the Ladies took to the court again in the second set, aiming to extend their lead. The second set was a much tenser affair, with the lead changing hands many times. Despite Catherine showing her team the ‘Wright’ (stupundous) way to serve, by smashing in 4 of them unanswered, Cardiff gained some vital momentum and took the set 25-20, equalising the set score to 1-1.

The third set began in a similar fashion, with both teams playing good volleyball and looking more evenly matched than a completed spot the difference puzzle. However, the set looked all but finished with Bristol 23-17 up. Much to Bristol’s dismay, a good run of serving by Cardiff gave them 8 points in a row and consequently the set, making the score 2-1 Cardiff.

Knowing another lost set would also mean the match, the Ladies returned to the court with a renewed purpose. New international signing Federica Cimatti summed up Bristol’s resilience perfectly with a hard working performance, including a majestic smash down the line that left the entire hall stunned. The Bristol team smelt blood – quite literally – as one of the Cardiff players spilt her Welsh Claret all over the court after diving for a particularly vicious spike. Ignoring her medical instincts, Weegenaar continued to serve superbly, helping Bristol to a 25-16 win, leaving the match poised at 2-2.

With the sports hall filling up with the Ladies’ Second Team, Bristol took to the court one final time for the tiebreak. With every point drawing shouts of joy or anguish from the crowd, and multiple eardrum breaking yells from Club Captain Rob ‘Skype?’ Pennifold, the set remained as closely fought as ever. At the obligatory switching of sides Bristol led 8-7 and the crowd sensed victory. At 14-13 the Ladies had their match point. As Cimatti smashed the ball down into the Cardiff side the crowd and team erupted. Never had such joy been felt. Never had a victory been so deserved and heartfelt.

Then one short whistle blast pierced the euphoria like a hot knife through celebratory butter.

Pawel ‘You’re dead to the Ladies’ team’ Laskowski had called a foot fault under the net.

With the game resuming now at 14-14 the script had been written. Cardiff scored two points in a row and thus ran out 3-2 winners.

The Ladies, so cruelly denied by the Polish enigma, should be congratulated for the way in which they played, never giving up until the (second) final whistle. They have many positives to take away from the game.

‘Lady of the Match’ goes to Celestine Weegenaar for an outstanding display in all areas of the game.

Our thanks go to Chris Sherfield for his rigorous display as 1st Referee, to Mike Wilsher for scoring, to Millie Mercer and Marcus Clifford for line judging in their own, beautifully unique ways and to everyone who came along to support.

Pawel, see you at training.

Written by John House

Bristol Men’s 1st v Swansea Men – Conference Cup Semi-Final 12/03/14

Match Report

On the 12th March 2014 the Men’s 1st team played their semi-final match against Swansea. Having never played Swansea before the Men knew little about their opponents. As always the pre-match build up was eventful; despite the passive aggression of captain House’s Facebook post, Big Mike ‘Michaels’ Wilsher bounded in a mighty 6 minutes late to many disapproving looks and sideways glances. Meanwhile there was an injury scare for the team lothario Pawel ‘Big P’ Laskowski, who having spent many hours in the gym trying to get #hench, thought for one horrible moment that his knee had failed him in the warm up. To make matters worse Scott ‘can’t say no to sport’ Caddick, turned up ten minutes before the start sweaty faced and covered in mud, having spent his early afternoon kicking a ball around a field (a poor alternative to volleying it).

Despite these (obviously horrendous and in no way exaggerated for storytelling purposes) setbacks, the Men were ready for their first set. It soon became apparent that Swansea were to be worthy adversaries to the Men, with strong hitters and a solid libero. Bristol however were of course equal to the task, with their hitters, in the form of Big P, Rob Pennifold and Rivan Meiarasu all playing excellently. With a lead of 19-15 at the first timeout it would have been safe to assume Bristol could close out the set and take an early lead. However, as ever with this rag-tag group of people, nothing is ever so easy or so non-dramatic. Swansea to their credit fought well to get back in to the set, but Bristol faltered too easily under the pressure, gifting Swansea the first set 25-20.

Bristol began the second set with renewed determinism. Having had his traditional first-set-nerve-settler, Big Mike ‘Michaels’ Wilsher warmed to his task in the middle, hitting and blocking well with his dustbin lid sized hands. Unfortunately the same could not be said for his fellow middle hitter House, who, suffering from the dodgy Subway™ Big Beef Melt he had consumed for lunch, felt about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Nevertheless Bristol played well, with Big P serving strongly as ever whilst Nigel Chan’s setting was like sunshine on a rainy day, despite his lack of appearances at training. With the end of the set approaching and the scores still tight, Bristol this time held their nerve, as Caddick sent a ball crashing down into the Swansea half, letting Bristol take the set 25-23.

With the rest of the game now essentially a best of 3 match, the Bristolian men were confident they could keep their momentum and push on in the third set. This they did superbly, with everyone on the team playing their part in crushing the Swansea team… er… 26-24. The set was a triumph for Caddick and Laskowski, who reunited their two-man Scottish/Polish band to continuously ‘kill’ any ball Nigel set them. I would love to offer more information on this set, however it’s largely a blur, induced by a lack of energy reserves/general physical fitness.

Bristol now had the game in the palm of their hands and were eager to finish the game in the Fourth set. Thanks to a well-timed pancake from Rivan (not the Volleyball move, an actual pancake), John ‘Probably-not-socially-acceptable-to-give-myself-a-nickname’ House actually began to play to a proper standard. This however was overshadowed by a much more important on-court debate between Caddick, House and Laskowski over the female characters in the popular American sitcom ‘Community’. After realising they were there to play Volleyball, and that the obvious answer was Annie Edison, the Men pulled back Swansea’s early 6 point lead to level the set up at 21-21. Special mention to Big P, who at one point, clearly frustrated with the length of the play, didn’t even bother jumping as he unleashed an unreturnable spike. Having conquered their fear of closing out a tight set, yet all the while keeping their showboat mentality, Bristol pushed home their advantage and won the set – yet again by a mere 2 points – 25-23, giving them an overall 3-1 victory.

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Bristol therefore progress deservedly through to the Final of the Conference Cup, which will be played against Bournemouth 2nd’s on the 26th of March 2014.

Stat of the day – to show how tense the game really was, in terms of actual points scored, Bristol won 96-95.

Our thanks go to Kelly, Vessy, Ellie and Nicole for their help in refereeing and scoring the game.

Written by John House, 1st Team Captain

Bristol Men’s 1st v UWE, Exeter, Plymouth Marjons 25/01/14

Match Report

On the 25th of January 2014 the Men’s first team journeyed down to Exeter for 3 BUCS matches. Leaving early in the morning the team were to travel in convoy, with stand-in coach Rob Pennifold taking the lead in a zippy Hyundai, whilst House would lumber on behind in the more impressive 9 seater van/car. Whilst this plan looked effective on paper, in practice Pennifold’s unique convoy style of leaving House behind and making decisions very late caused some trouble for the 9 men strapped in to the Vauxhall. However, despite a death-defying dive down a slip road, to multiple shouts of fear from the passengers (even though driver House insists there was never any danger and that two wheels are better than four), the men made it to Exeter in good time and more importantly in one piece, ready for the day ahead.

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In spite of Manuel Brunet bravely attempting to take on the Umpires chair during the warm up the Men were well prepared for their first game of the day, against local rivals UWE. The Men started well, with powerful hitting from whom else but ‘Big P’ Laskowski giving Bristol the first set at 25-18. The second set began in a similar fashion with Bristol opening up a lead once more. However, to their credit UWE fought back well from 21-16 down, to take the set at an agonising 27-25. After a rousing team talk from Pennifold, Bristol returned to the court, albeit with some tension, after Nigel Chan cruelly stole the captain’s proud duty of getting to count ‘2, 3’ before the hearty cry of ‘Bristol’. Bristol once again started strongly, with Brunet recovering from his earlier chair altercation to both block and hit well, whilst Chan took every opportunity to ‘feed the beast’ that is the infamous Polish enigma Laskowski, giving Bristol an 8-4 lead. UWE once again fought back strongly, but at 14-12 Bristol had 3 match points. At this point, overcome with the prospect of being the hero Laskowski decided to go for a big jump serve, something he had been struggling with in the match, perhaps due to the lack of a female fan club to impress. Unfortunately, once again the ball sailed out, much to the horror of the Bristol bench. Luckily, a UWE mistake granted the men victory on the next point, and thus the match was won 2-1. This was the third time in a row that a Men’s BUCS game had come down to a two point difference, thus confirming that being the showboats they are, the Bristol team prefer to be crowd pleasers than easily beat a team.

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After a quick turnaround, Bristol played Exeter. Refreshed by James Throup’s wonderful orange segments, which were fresh and sliced to pin-point precision, the team took to the court. Both teams seemed equally matched at the start of the first set, with the score progressing to 14-14. Needing a bit of a lift to motivate them to victory, Mike ‘Michaels’ Wilsher rose to meet a ball in the middle of the court, perfecting his starfish jump technique as he did so, and with gasps from his fellow large man and soul-mate John House, produced a fantastic spike into the Exeter half. Buoyed by this act the Northern bumpkin started playing as if Sheffield depended on it, blocking spike after spike from the Exeter men and drawing blocks with his attacks, leaving Scott Caddick to rise to the net unopposed to smash the ball down on repeated occasions. Bristol took the set 25-19. Bristol kept their momentum in the second set and extended an early lead, helped by the one-of-a-kind Scottish/Polish double act of Caddick and Laskowski. childs_hitWith Jonny Childs being brought on Bristol had fresh legs at the net, and perhaps fearing his watching other half would be distracted by the lothario that is Big P, Childs produced both excellent blocks and good attacking hits through the middle, helping Bristol to a 25-14 second set win, and thus 2-0 win overall, a win that left the men shell-shocked as it was by more than 2 points.

Special credit must again go to Throup for the phenomenal sandwich he gifted House in between the 2nd and 3rd games, a beautiful concoction of Chicken and Bacon that deserves its very own paragraph. Seriously, it was a taste sensation.

convoBristol’s final game was against Plymouth Marjons, and after deep discussion between Pennifold and House the set began. Bristol showed their prowess in the first set, with Sergey Stepanov hitting well through the outside and Caddick serving powerfully, although his valiant attempt at a jump serve quickly ended his run of serves. Marjons had no answer to Bristol, with their players not even bothering to attempt to block James ‘Make me a sandwich’ Throup, when he defied gravity to leap like an entire school of salmon to smash the ball down. Bristol took the first set a comfortable 25-8. In the second set Bristol were again very strong, with Laskowski given the job of setting. The Men began to really enjoy their game, particularly Caddick, whose delight was available for all to see, as he began smiling mid-air, before he even had scored one of the points. But, just like any TV talent show contestant, Bristol’s day had its sob story. Threatened no doubt by his superb all round play, Marjons decided to plough through the net, taking out Brunet. As a hush descended over the court, it was clear that this blow, combined with the earlier ‘chair fight’ had ended Manuel’s day disappointingly early. With a shake up on court, involving House playing outside, a position he believes requires far too much effort compared to standing in the middle and jumping, Bristol finished the set, running out 25-17 winners and thus again winning 2-0.

throup_leapBristol therefore took home an excellent three wins out of three from the day, leaving them in an excellent position for the rest of the season and hopes of promotion. All the team performed brilliantly and deserve the praise for their volleyballing prowess and in one particular case their cooking abilities. Special mention to Justin Hui, who despite seeming to spend more of the day asleep than awake, played superbly as always in every single game with his trademark casual ‘liberoing’, proving once again that he can be relied on at all times. Our thanks go to Rob Pennifold for coaching the team excellently throughout the day, but not for his driving.

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Player Of The Match: With three games, the Man Of The Match awards go to Pawel ‘Big P’ Laskowski in the first game, Mike ‘Michaels’ Wilsher in the second, and Scott ‘Future sponsor of Bristol Volleyball’ Caddick in the third.

Written by John House, 1st Team Captain. Pictures courtesy of Sergey Stepanov

Student Cup – Men 10/11/13

Student Cup – Men 10/11/13

Match Report

On Sunday 10th November the Men played in the Student Cup at Ashcombe in Surrey. With many of the team unavailable, due to issues varying from vomiting to a weekend spent with Mickey and pals at Disneyland, only 7 men converged at the Students’ Union building at 5.45am. Fighting back hangovers and sleep deprivation, the bus left for the almost 3 hour journey down to the tournament. Houses_serves
Arriving at 8.30, the Men discovered they were on to play first. With final squad member Wilsher, having safely negotiated the workings of inner city London transport, joined the team, the match against Brighton began. The first set was a comfortable warm up for Bristol, with Brighton making a few unforced errors that gifted points to Bristol, allowing for a 25-13 first set win. The second set was a harder affair, with Brighton finding their feet, however thanks to fantastic ‘pancaking’ from Justin Hui and serving from the ever-reliable Pawel Laskowski, Bristol won the second set 25-18 and thus the game 2-0.

The Men’s next game was against Chichester. Fuelled by Powerade, an unearthly amount of sandwiches and some ‘steer fry’, confidence was high going into the match. Again, in the first set the Men started strongly, and with good play from James Lydall and Jacob Webster, ran out 25-17 winners. Perhaps due to some over-confidence, in the second set the Men’s focus slipped and simple errors began to be made. With all 6 players missing a serve, Chichester were gifted points and pushed the set all the way until the end. Nerves were huge, but Bristol managed to win the set 27-25 and again take a 2-0 victory.

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Despite securing 2 wins out of 2, the Men’s heads began to drop after the disappointing performance in the previous set. Perhaps sensing this, the absent (through no fault of her own) coach Danielle Simpson sent what can only be described as a text straight from the heart and mind of Shakespeare. With her words stirring the team emotionally, the men were ready for the next game against tough opponents – Cardiff.

The Men played much better in this game, with good setting from Mike Avery, and hitting from Scott Caddick. Despite this, the strength of Cardiff was too much and they took the first set 25-13. Bristol came back much stronger in the second set, with Wilsher getting out wide to help Lydall block off Cardiff’s main hitter. Cardiff again, however, showed their quality and had the game at 24-16, with 8 match points. To their credit, Bristol managed to pull back 4 points, showing great perseverance, before John House, set up perfectly for the middle hit, decided to spear it wide, giving Cardiff the set and the win 2-0.

Laskowski_hits  With Cardiff having now all but won qualification into the next round of the cup, Bristol knew their only chance stood with beating final team Falmouth. And after a two hour wait and a couple more sandwiches and energy drinks, Bristol woke up Justin Hui from his pitch-side slumber and started the final game. The Men were certainly tired and enthusiasm was low on court, as Falmouth began to punish Bristol’s mistakes, taking the first set 25-18. It was at this point that something within the team flipped and emerging back onto the court for the second set, Bristol were a new team. With Laskowski running round the court like a man desperate to relieve his bowels, and Hui keeping every ball hit into the Bristol side alive, Bristol opened up a healthy lead. Everything clicked into place in the final set, with every single player playing out of their skins to get the win for Bristol, which was finally secured with a 25-11 final set win.

Bristol thus took 2nd place overall on the day, which keeps the hopes of qualification for the next round alive. Well done to all of the boys on the day who got up so early and played so well throughout.

Player of the Day: Justin Hui

Written by John House, 1st Team Captain

Student Cup – Ladies 10/11/13

Student Cup – Ladies 10/11/13

Match Report

The UOB Volleyball Ladies’ First Team took to the court in Ashcombe on Sunday 10th November for the annual Student Cup qualifying round. Following an early start, we were first up against Chichester 2nd’s. Having observed them during the warm-up, we were confident we could beat them and did so in two straight sets 25-9, 25-8. With players competing for the first time in a University match, newcomers such as Ellie Harrison and Vessy Dobreva gelled instantly with the team and we worked through our rotations competently as the match played out. Impressive setting from Kahmun Hor was also vital to our first win and Coach Lorenzo Marvulli’s “praise” for the other team kept spirits high.

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Next, we played the Falmouth and Exeter Ladies’ Team. We knew they would be tougher opponents and this showed in our first set defeat by 25-22. We returned to the second set with determination and high energy. With consistent blocks and serves from Catherine Wright, alongside solid hits from Lorena Bălan, we proved our worth in beating them 25-15, and again in the 3rd set 15-4 – some could say it was a “blood bath”.

thumbs_upOur final and without doubt toughest match was against Brighton University. Having continued straight on from the previous match, we remained positive and focussed, starting play confidently. We returned their tough serves and hits with purpose, but our energy started to falter and we lost the first set 15-25. LuluB Tsang’s reliable sets and serves kept us in the game and though we tried profusely to keep up energy and concentration, they beat us again 25-17. As a result, we finished 2nd in the pool; incredible considering we were missing some top hitters and worked with new combinations of players. We will have to wait and see the other pools’ results before we know if we have made it to the final.

Player Of The Day: Lorena Bălan

Written by Georgia Walker, 1st Team Captain

Bristol Ladies’ 1st v Bath Ladies’ 1st 06/11/13

Bristol Ladies’ 1st v Bath Ladies’ 1st 06/11/13

Match Report

On the 6th November 2013, Bristol Ladies’ 1st team played Bath University at home. The game was a much-hyped event, with people travelling from all walks of University life to witness the spectacle that is Volleyball. After a delayed start, due to some hogging of the court by the Bristol Basketball team, Bristol captain, Georgia ‘Captain Chat’ Walker, called correctly at the coin toss – Bristol would serve first.

The first set started well for the Ladies, with good early passing play from Karoline Dronnen helping them to a 4-1 lead. However, the nerves seemed to set in and Bath clawed their way back into the match at 5-5. Despite some huge blocking from Celestine ‘The Flying Dutchwoman’ Weegenaar, and powerful serving from the left arm of LuluB Tsang, Bath took the lead 14-12. Bristol were certainly affected by some on-court jitters, adopting a controversial silent style of communication on court, but, after LuluB did her best impression of Bambi on ice, the Women pulled back some much needed points, to make it 18-17. The set descended into a tense affair, with the crowd’s attempts at a Mexican wave failing miserably, and unfortunately for Bristol, Bath took the set 25-22.

Weegenaar_blockTsang_settingWright_hittingDronnen_passesKelly_hitting

After a rousing team talk the Ladies returned to the court with renewed confidence, and as the crowd continued to struggle with the basics of a Mexican wave, the second set began. Leaping like a new spring lamb, Catherine Wright smashed in 2 early points for Bristol giving them an early 4-3 lead. With the crowd behind them Bristol played superbly, with great passing play from Luana Tăbîrcă;, who time and time again threw herself at the ball, putting her body on the line for the team. As Weegenaar picked up the ball to serve, the ever vocal ‘Big P’ shouted down some advice from the crowd. Weegenaar swiftly ignored said advice, hitting two powerful, unreturned serves, leaving the ‘Big P’ with some metaphorical egg on his face, much to the shock of his supporting fan club. With both teams tipping more than a satisfied customer at a restaurant, the second set involved some rallies of epic proportions, but with Bristol hitting well they took the second set 25-19.

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The atmosphere was almost unbearable as the final set began. Players on both sides knew they had to give 100% in order to get those precious 15 points and thus the victory. Never before has an attitude been epitomised more than in the actions of Dronnen. Seeing the ball falling to the floor, she executed a textbook slide, drawing comparisons with scenes from the 2005 hit film, March of the Penguins and the ball was kept alive, allowing Bristol to win the point and take a valuable 6-2 lead. As ever Bath kept the game alive with some good play, but with the crowd now erupting at every point, Bristol pressed home their advantage with Kelly O’Connell playing as if her life depended on it, with some excellent all round play. As the final ball from Bath sailed out, the Sports Centre exploded into euphoric celebration, with some reports suggesting tears of joy and pride were seen falling from Club Captain Pennifold’s eyes. The Ladies won the set 15-11 and thus the game 2-1. A fantastic victory.

Thanks to Mike Avery and Kelvin Yeung for refereeing and to Mike Wilsher for spending his week learning to count, so that he could score.

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Player Of The Match: LuLuB Tsang

Written by John House, with contributions from GDawg ‘Captain Chat’ Walker and Rob Pennifold.

Bristol Men’s 1st v UWE Men’s 30/10/13

Bristol Men’s 1st v UWE Men’s 30/10/13

Match Report

On Wednesday 30th of October, the Men’s 1st team got their season underway with a home fixture against local rivals UWE.  Arriving early, the Men were greeted by a work of modern art drawn by the coach Danielle Simpson, explaining in multiple coloured glory the on court rotation plans. Buoyed by this new found knowledge we were confident of victory. After winning the first toss of the season with a superb call of heads by captain John House, Bristol would serve first.

The Men certainly seemed to suffer from some nerves in the first set, with some early passes going astray, and at 6-1 down, a timeout was needed. After some words of encouragement from the coach and a couple of deep breaths, the game resumed. Bristol were much better after the break, however UWE maintained a four point lead throughout most of the set, and after some excellent hitting from their outside men, they ran out 25-18 winners in the first set.

No Bristol team wants to lose to UWE and as the men huddled round, they knew that they needed to win this second set to stay in the game. At times in a big game like this, you need players to step up and perform, and in the second set for Bristol one man did – the Polish enigma, Pawel ‘Big P’ Laskowski. Opening up his shoulders, Pawel slammed in 4 unanswered serves in a row, opening up an early lead for Bristol. Supported ably by Scott Caddick and Rob Pennifold, Bristol executed some majestic volleyball, repeatedly slamming the ball down into the UWE half of the court. Despite some dubious on court decisions and subsequent out-of-character anger from the captain, Bristol won the set 25-9.

And so it came down to the final set. A shorter, first to 15 game to decide the winner. Confident in her side, the coach kept the same 6 men on court, and the set began. With Nigel Yanlock Chan setting like a man possessed, Bristol continued to punish UWE through Caddick and some great blocking from Jonny Childs. However after the arbitrary swapping of sides at 8 points, UWE pulled level with Bristol at 9 all. The atmosphere in the sports hall was electric; UWE having brought a large group of supporters had plenty of encouragement, matched by the smaller, but heartier Bristol contingent, many of whom seemed to be female, and directly from the Laskowski fan club. Finally at 14-12, Bristol had 2 match points, and after squandering one, the ball was floated outside, to who else but the ‘Big P’, who, leaping like a salmon, smashed the ball down into the UWE court. Bristol won the set  15-13, and the game 2 sets to 1. A great first win for the season.

Our thanks go to Celestine Weegenaar and Kelvin Yeung for refereeing, and to the dynamic duo of Wilsher and Ma for scoring.

Player Of The Match: Pawel ‘Big P’ Laskowski

Written by John House, 1st Team Captain.

Bournemouth Ladies’ 1st v Bristol Ladies’ 1st 30/10/13

Match Report

The Ladies’ First Team started off their BUCS season with an away match at Bournemouth – perhaps not the most convenient location to ease us into the season. Nevertheless, we travelled the 130 or so miles and warmed up in high spirits, in preparation for the 12pm start.

We opened up the first set competently; unsure of our opponent’s abilities and relying on skills we developed in recent training sessions. Taking the lead at 7-3, we had high expectations of the sets to follow, with Kelly O’Connell performing impressive spikes and Rebeca Perez setting proficiently considering her limited practice with the team. Unfortunately, Bournemouth managed to creep their way back and level with us 10-10, as we got stuck in one rotation and were unable to defend their hits and blocks. We persisted whilst trying to work out our transitions, but this came too late as they took the first set 25-15.

Slightly disheartened, we approached the next set with more determination: again, we secured the first point and the set played out evenly, with impressive performances from both sides. In particular, Catherine Wright (POTM) demonstrated spectacular blocks and composed digs, while Luana Tăbîrcă’s tenacity as Opposite was vital to our play. Our serving was strong and consistent, especially Kelly and Alissa Ambrose’s, yet insufficient to conquer Bournemouth’s defence and quick attacks. We lost the second set 25-16 – positively, an improvement from the first.

Despite the loss, our great energy and team dynamic reflects our vast potential to improve this season, as we strengthen our skills and match play together. Thanks also to the significant support from those on the sidelines – this was essential to our confidence as a team. Bournemouth should expect a tough match when they come to play us in December.

Player Of The Match: Catherine Wright

Written by Georgia Walker, 1st Team Captain