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.

12241402_972879476083979_6582183232983757041_n (1)

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.

IMG_1264

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.

 

IMG_2748

 

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.

 

Displaying Facebook-20150309-102253.jpg

Displaying Facebook-20150309-102158.jpg

Displaying Facebook-20150309-102535.jpg

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

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

1013477_800154096689852_7507756600046209839_n

Written by Ellie Harrison, with some intricate touches of genius from Rob Pennifold and John House