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.
Player of the Match: Matt Birch
Written by Rob Pennifold