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

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

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

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

Player’s MVP: Chenchen

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

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Written by: Beccy Cartwright-Riley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Kate Wyver

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

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

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

MVP: Nicole

Emelie Forsman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Man of the Match: Paolo Abrami

Written by: John House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Lorena Bălan

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

A sterling job.

Cheers all the best,

Craig

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Player of the Match: Paolo Abrami

Written by: Craig Tavares-McKoy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MVP: Megan de Jode

Written by: Julie Andersen

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

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

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

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

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

Player of the Match:

Written by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Kate Wyver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Lorena Bălan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Lorena Bălan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Player of the Match: Chan Sheng

Written by: Luuk Borsma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Dom Minton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Maria Klønhammer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Lorena Bălan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Karoline Dronnen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coach’s MVPMonika Dryzmala
Player’s MVPMilly Roper

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Written by: Milly Roper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Player of the Match: Ralph Bernardo

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Written by: Dom Minton