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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Lorena Bălan

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

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

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

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

Player’s MVP: Chenchen

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

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Written by: Beccy Cartwright-Riley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Kate Wyver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Lorena Bălan

Wessex 2 vs Team Bristol Ladies

Wessex 2 vs Team Bristol Ladies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gloucestershire Ladies 2nds vs Bristol Ladies 2nds

Gloucestershire Ladies 2nds vs Bristol Ladies 2nds

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

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

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

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

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

Player’s MVP: Danielle Mathieson

(She really played brilliantly!)

Written by: Zoe Holt

UWE 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 1sts

UWE 1sts vs Bristol Ladies 1sts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karoline “YAAAS” Captain out.

Bristol vs UWE

Player of the Match: Lorena Bălan

Written by: Karoline Drønnen

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.

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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.

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Player of the Match: Simos Koutsoftides

Written by: Marcus Clifford

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

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

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.

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Written by: Dom Minton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First game, first win, long may it continue.

Mens2ndBUCS14Oct

Player of the Match: Rob Evans

Written by: Rob Evans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Hattie Freer-Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Written by: Lorena Bălan

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

BUCS looms.

 

Onwards.

 

Written by: Fergus Shaw
Southampton Ladies’ 1st v Bristol Ladies’ 1st

Southampton Ladies’ 1st v Bristol Ladies’ 1st

Match Report

On Wednesday 12th November Bristol Ladies’ 1st took a trip down South to take on the league leaders, the University of Southampton, in a heroic battle to the death…sort of…not really…it was just a volleyball game to be honest. After a long journey and yet another batch of snoozing snaps, courtesy of middle hitter Catherine Wright who appears never to sleep (revenge will be sought), Bristol were itching to play.

Feeling uncharacteristically calm, the Ladies arrived on court with the confidence of a Bristolian umbrella vendor and opened the first set with the Dutch serving maestro that we all know and love, Celestine Weegenaar. Southampton, foolishly underestimating Bristol’s volleyballing prowess, put forward a shaky starting six who proved incapable of returning hits from Bristol’s attacking might of Federica Cimatti, Lara Karam and captain Ellie Harrison (inserted against Ellie’s will due to her admirable modest nature). Supported by some strong setting from Kahmun Hor, Bristol continued to put points on the board, with Wright closing the set 25:18 with an intrepid tip that skimmed the line with centimeters to spare.

Southampton, unsettled and unnerved, introduced some tougher cookies to the game. Warmed up and un-phased by their opponent’s team shuffle, Bristol reclaimed the service almost immediately and continued to play at a consistently high standard, with credit as always to the ever-dependable libero Karoline Drønnen. Special mention to Cheryl Nordal whose hands, soft as a silken sponge dipped in hand moisturizer in a bed of fresh linen, placed each ball with the precision of a needle. With this vivacious combo, the Ladies took the 2nd set at a leisurely stroll, running out 25:21 winners.

Not willing to relax into the 3rd set, the feisty Italian-French duo of Cimatti and Karam turned up the heat and forced error upon error on the wavering coastal dwellers, supported excellently by their Bristol hitting counterparts Rosie Walters and Abi Wooden, newly-introduced for this set. Emboldened by the fresh legs on court, the Ladies sailed through, concluding the set comfortably at a score of 25:14. An outstanding win for Bristol.

Players of the match: Federica Cimatti and Lara Karam

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

Bournemouth Ladies’ 1st v Bristol Ladies’ 1st 30/10/13

Match Report

The Ladies’ First Team started off their BUCS season with an away match at Bournemouth – perhaps not the most convenient location to ease us into the season. Nevertheless, we travelled the 130 or so miles and warmed up in high spirits, in preparation for the 12pm start.

We opened up the first set competently; unsure of our opponent’s abilities and relying on skills we developed in recent training sessions. Taking the lead at 7-3, we had high expectations of the sets to follow, with Kelly O’Connell performing impressive spikes and Rebeca Perez setting proficiently considering her limited practice with the team. Unfortunately, Bournemouth managed to creep their way back and level with us 10-10, as we got stuck in one rotation and were unable to defend their hits and blocks. We persisted whilst trying to work out our transitions, but this came too late as they took the first set 25-15.

Slightly disheartened, we approached the next set with more determination: again, we secured the first point and the set played out evenly, with impressive performances from both sides. In particular, Catherine Wright (POTM) demonstrated spectacular blocks and composed digs, while Luana Tăbîrcă’s tenacity as Opposite was vital to our play. Our serving was strong and consistent, especially Kelly and Alissa Ambrose’s, yet insufficient to conquer Bournemouth’s defence and quick attacks. We lost the second set 25-16 – positively, an improvement from the first.

Despite the loss, our great energy and team dynamic reflects our vast potential to improve this season, as we strengthen our skills and match play together. Thanks also to the significant support from those on the sidelines – this was essential to our confidence as a team. Bournemouth should expect a tough match when they come to play us in December.

Player Of The Match: Catherine Wright

Written by Georgia Walker, 1st Team Captain