It was early, very early, and exactly twelve hours after we had finished our training from the day before, when Ladies second gathered at the bodacious Bristol bus station. It was Caitlin and Maria K who led us to the beautiful, and more importantly, spacious Sports Hall of Bedminster (some of us had been traumatised by the claustrophobic hall in Cardiff for our BUCS games). With more discipline and efficiency than the Bristol University Royal Naval Unit at the Remembrance Day parade, eight of us made our way to the place where we would take it up against the Cardiff Jets and Bristol VC.
On our way there we found out that we were a group of many nationalities: Dasha from Kazakhstan, Angela from China, Tolu from the US (although she got herself out of writing this match report by saying that she was also Nigerian and claimed that English is not their national language…Wikipedia claims otherwise), Antilia from France, Maria G from Colombia, Maria K from The Netherlands, Caitlin from the UK and Morgane from France and the UK. This meant that all of us had learned volleyball in another language (Even Caitlin, who learned to play in Paraguay) resulting in a very broad knowledge of volleyball terms in different languages.
It was in the sports hall where we met up with Tim, who had many wise words for us. As we have been only playing together for two months and six of us are new on the team, there are still many things to learn, but as we all had the excitement of ten days old puppies, these were challenges we could not wait to take.
We started our first match with a beautiful serve from Antillia. And even though we were at times rather confused, with some desperate ‘oh no’ yelling from Morgane, we fought our way through the first set. There were great sets that only got better throughout the two games by Dasha, who was new as a setter, and Caitlin, our more seasoned setter. It was in the second set that we scored a point by a kick more impressive than Rene Higuita’s scorpion kick. Both Maria G and Higuita are Colombians, so there might be something in the water.
We got more used to the rotations, started playing more as a well-established team, got louder: we improved. But, alas, we lost both sets and thus the match. It was time for some reffing.
After witnessing a beautiful match between the Jets and Bristol VC and having become as cold as Australians who got deported to the Alaska, it was time for our second match. A match where our improvement as a team already was already showing. Morgane, together with Maria K, who got to be Zoe for a day, made sure we cheered louder and louder every set. Tolu had an amazing last-minute fall backward to ensure that the ball would not hit here, but the floor outside the court. There was a lot of angry yelling (but the good kind of angry, like the yelling of passionate lovers) and very good, consistent passing by Angela.
Again: We got more used to the rotations, started playing more as a well-established team and started to feel more confident, got louder: we improved. But, alas, we lost both sets and thus the match. But it did not matter. We came out a different team than we had come in as. A team that played better together, who felt more confident and did not run around the court like headless chickens (or special space cadets). Special mention to Tim, who besides doing a great job on coaching us, finally managed to pronounce Tolu’s name exactly as you’re supposed to.
It was time to end a great that full of great volleyball. Morgane expressed her love for IKEA and the others had, the inevitable when being with a group of internationals, yet another fight about language (“your stupid French counting doesn’t make any sense” *gestures that I will not describe here* “well at least it taught us how to do maths, unlike you Brits” etc. etc.), what more do you want from a Saturday.
MVP: the nominations for mvp promis for a team that will play very well together. There were as many as five different people nominated, with Caitlin, Maria G and Antilia getting the most votes.
Written by: Maria Klønhammer