Ladies 1sts vs Imperial College London 1sts – Conference Cup (25/11/2015)

Ladies 1sts vs Imperial College London 1sts – Conference Cup (25/11/2015)

Once upon a time, on the 25th of November, the Ladies 1st team travelled down to familiar Tyndall Avenue to play what will now be remembered as: “The greatest game ever played at Tyndall Avenue!” A bold statement yes, but little did the Ladies know (and everyone watching) that this would be the longest and most challenging fight they would ever have to endure. A game that will go down in volleyball history for centuries to come, and a level of volleyball unseen to the sports centre before. What a game! It was also yours truly’s birthday and what a way to spend it. As most of this game was a blur, I will try to retell it as accurately as my memory will allow it:

I can only describe this game as a suspenseful thriller where you are dying to know the ending. However the ending of this game being far off in the distant future, the 1st set started with a wonderful receive from our new libero and star Linny “Angel That Fell From The Sky” Levesque that gave Bristol the serve. Off to serve went the setter of the day Karoline “Where Is Cheryl??” Dronnen, and Bristol started the match and properly showed Imperial London what they were made off. In usual form Jalayna “Let’s Do This!” Sepezi and Shatha “Beast Serve” Al-Huneidi served as gods and Imperial realized they were up against a good team. With great volleyball from all the players, especially killer blocks from Anna “Nothing Gets Past Me” Linton, Bristol confidently won the 1st set 25-19.

Bristol being chuffed after the 1st set, the 2nd one would prove to be more of a challenge as Imperial London fought back. As the 2nd set started to unfold, Jasmine “You Go Girl” Zhang and Catherine “The Gentle Giant” Wright made their presence known on court. Getting well into her opposite position, Jasmine killed the backsets she got, and made the setter know that she was ready to kill it. However even with Catherine’s quicks and blocks and with Jalayna’s zoomy floatserves Bristol was not strong enough in this set, and Imperial London took the set at 25-16.
But Bristol never stops there and Kate “The Great” Wyver kept the team alive with her wonderful serving in the 3rd set. Keeping the score close all the way to a certain point Imperial saw their chance and took it. Still needing to wake up from the defeat of the 2nd set  Bristol got a giant slap in the face in the form of the frustrating score of 26-24. Another loss, but at that moment Bristol decided: 5 sets it is then!

We like to make things as exciting as we can, and making sets as long as possible is an everyday occurrence for us. As the opening sentence implies this was where things started to get intense, and the tension in the air could be cut with a knife! Making a few subs between Kate and Sylvia “On A Different Planet” Betrosian, they both showed that they were a force to be reckoned with both in serving and hard-hitting spikes. However, to everyone’s dismay, our own Catherine “I’m Fine” Wright sustained an injury where her fingers took a beating from blocking the opposition. Abi “Team Medic” Wooden gave the coach a scrutinizing look after specifically ordering that she was not to play anymore, as Lorenzo put Catherine back on saying the words: we need to win! Point by point the tension rose, and none of the teams were ready to give up the title as the victor of the 4th set. The entire game was at stake for Bristol and with that thought in their heads, and the desperate pleas of Coach Lorenzo for everyone to calm down during time out, the ladies chased the 2 point difference and kept on fighting. However trying to stay calm in a situation like this is like telling someone to calm down if they had their leg chopped off… As the points went by, the ladies started getting more and more tired and unexperienced setter captain tried to keep her head cool (btw impossible) as Bristol took point by point for their own. The men’s team playing away at Warwick followed the game nervously, as they were getting steady updates from the sports centre of doom, awaiting the result of the never-ending set. Finally, at the unbelievable score of 33-31 Bristol claimed that they were queens of the court, and took the 4th set like champions.

In the final and brutal finale of the greatest game of all time, this fairy tale got its happy ending. But not without its hardships. For this set Bristol’s goal was to get to 8 first, as that was the first hurdle to victory. After 8 points was gained the survival of the fittest started to play out on court! As the previous set was fierce Bristol could not imagine that it would get any more difficult. Oh how wrong they were… Coming back on court, the injured Catherine played like a giant in front of the net, along with our Kuwaiti force Shatha; however, the girls had never been this tired, and the game kept going on for what seemed like forever. The breathing got heavier and the atmosphere was tense, but when the going gets tough the tough gets going! After hindering the opposition to take the game point by point, our wonderful Cheryl “Soft hands” Nordal walked in, causing almost everyone to burst into tears. With the renewed faith in that they could do this and the backing up from Captain of the court Jalayna, the Bristol team saved 7 match points, and the teams kept going steady point by point. Until it all stopped. Everything went quiet for a second. As the ladies had stopped looking at the score a long time ago, they all prayed it would be over. However as they glanced over at the score it said 22-20 to Bristol. As they realized everyone cheered as they never had before, as the entire team ran into a circle of victory. Hugs and screaming galore, the 1st team was victorious and the applause from the spectators grew louder not being aware of what just hit them. After this, everyone were on the verge of tears, and yours truly actually started crying when her flatmates made her a volleyball cake. That was too much for one day, and the most intense game ever!

As the greatest game ever to go down in the volleyball history of Tyndall Avenue, and almost giving our coach a heart attack, thank you to everyone on the team who fought their hardest ever, and thanks for bearing with me, as this was the captain’s first game as a full-time setter. And what a game to start it with! This will stand in the Hall of Fame, where all the great athletes go, and as the song goes: You can be the greatest, you can be the best. And we were!

Player of the Match: goes to the wonderful captain of the court Jalayna “Fierce” Sepezi for keeping us going (including myself) when everyone wanted to give up. Point by point! Thanks girl ☺

Captain Karoline “YAAAAAS” Dronnen out. Xx

Ladies 2nds vs Bournemouth 2nds – Conference Cup (25/11/2015)

Ladies 2nds vs Bournemouth 2nds – Conference Cup (25/11/2015)

On the 25th of November, the Ladies 2nds hosted their very first Cup match, facing Bournemouth 2nds. After a bit of a meltdown last week, the team was determined to put aside its tiny hiccup against Bath.

We began the set confidently, with a couple of changes to the conventional set up of the team, with Beccy “Watch the Line” Cartwright-Riley stepping in for opposite and Angela “High 5” Liu standing as outside. Despite the slight uncertainty of 5-1 rotations, the game progressed smoothly with some luscious sets from Zoe “Oatcake” Holt, finished off with some killer hits by Camellia “Swinging from the Chan-delier”  and Angela “Nightclub Virgin” Liu. Serves were particularly on point, special mention to Milly “Dalmatian Bruises” Roper, who began the match doubting her over-arm serve and scored two consecutive aces. The ladies wrapped up the set quickly, producing some textbook volleyball and concluded the set 25-13. Feeling optimistic after the first set win the ladies entered the second set with high hopes, and proceeded with some excellent volleyball to take the second set 25-20.

The third set got to us, as we started losing stamina over the game. Fatigue, miscommunication, a hint of over-confidence? The 2nds got stuck in a serving rut as n°9, the fisting fury, powered through with her flat diagonal serves. A few scrappy moves and an ambitious back-court hit from Beccy “Clap Serve” Cartwright-Riley meant the 2nds lost their track slightly. A few points down, the gap was too wide to recover and the set ended on 25-21 for Bournemouth Uni.

Not to worry! With Coach Tim’s wise words, full bench of support and a delirious crowd, the cheers were on the Bristol side as they took on the 4th set. Having won the first two sets and narrowly lost the second, the team was determined not to let the last one slip away. Consistent serving from Camellia and Angela put the team at an advantage, whilst Beccy and Hattie – the intimidation wall – flawlessly kept to their blocking duties. The match could not conclude without a couple of Beccy’s iconic facial interceptions with the ball, bringing great entertainment to the game, calming the nerves of the Bristol squad! What seemed like a fairly tangible win for Bristol, became a problematic affair as both sides stood their ground towards the end of the set. With a tight score creeping all the way up to 24-25, the tension reached its pinnacle as the ladies let their match point slip. Thankfully, the team kept a strong mental game and put an end to the match 27-25, securing our greatest win of the season so far!

Players’ MVP: Camellia Chan
Coach’s MVP: Zoe Holt

Written by: Gaby Cropper

Plymouth Mens 1sts vs Bristol Mens 2nds – Conference Cup (25/11/2015)

Plymouth Mens 1sts vs Bristol Mens 2nds – Conference Cup (25/11/2015)

It was a chilly day. The UoB Volleyball Men’s 2nd team are set for yet another game away from home.

The two-hour long bus journey was compensated by the fact that the nice coach that we were on was only less than half occupied (Yeah, we could literally all lie down and sleep and still have plenty of space left on the coach). Overall, the bus journey was peaceful and rather cosy. We eventually arrived at the sports centre of University of St Mark & St John (not Plymouth Uni unfortunately), which is in the middle of nowhere in the suburbs of Plymouth. However, it is certain that neither teams will actually enjoy home court advantage (Just imagine UoB hosting a match but we use the sports hall of UWE).

Despite the confusion of locations of the match. The sports centre of St Mark & St Johns is indeed one of the most luxurious most of us has ever seen. Proof? Their annual gym membership is £200 (yes, you see that right). So no more words on how good the venue was.

After enjoying a bit of football (with University of Brighton playing here) playing on the fields (and we were lucky enough to witness a goal. Quite unusual for a football match, huh? PS: No sarcasm here), we headed into the big sports hall to get ready for our match.

Pre-game changing room stories are always worth a mention. Here are a few noticeable quotes:

“Ralph, the (team) shirts all smell like you!”

“Anyone want some snickers?”

“Where is the toilet?” (Yep, the toilet door had no sign on it)

And a reminder for anyone who bothers to read this article: Do not use the shower in the men’s changing room in UoB gym! Reason? Just ask Florian Potier and hopefully he will deny all accusations.

After a brief warm-up led by on-court captain Rob Evans and a bit of lecturing by Captain Felipe of why he cannot be on-court captain, we finally started the game.

We started with serving from Florian. The team quickly adapted to the pace of the game and gained a 5–1 lead, which led to our opponent calling for a time-out. After the time-out, our opponent found their rhythm and started to hit and serve hard (notably from their No.8 which earned the nickname “the beast” given by one of our members) that led to us slipping away lots of points. We kept the score at a very small margin thanks to lots of mistakes made by Plymouth. However, we did not manage to close the gap of the score until then. While by the end of the the set, Captain Felipe stressed the importance of blocking hits (again!) during a short time-out. Effectively, we delivered a few impressive blocks, especially by Marcus, that led to many hitting errors by Plymouth under pressure. We hanged around for quite a while before losing the first set 20–25.

The first set turned out to be the closest set of all. As Plymouth got into their pace and better reading our positions, we got heavily damaged by some massive hits particularly from No.8 “The Beast”. Our backcourt guys had a lot of pressure during this period, often being in the right position but unable to deliver a solid pass due to the shear strength of the hits taken in. We managed to stop the skid of scores by forcing our opponents to make mistakes. Honourable mention for Kenji for wonderfully pushing one ball to the dead corner! Nevertheless, the score margin could not narrowed and we lost the second set 15–25.

The offence by Plymouth came even stronger in the third set. With their hitters somehow finding more ways to get past our blocks, our backcourt players kept on enduring those massive hits. Our covering saw some improvements though, but this cannot prove useful while facing one after another flat jump serves by our opponents. Many points were lost in an easy fashion, while scoring ourselves asked us to be in the best form. Under one after another heavy jump serves from Plymouth, we came to a 13–25 third set loss.

After the game, we had some friendly hits with Plymouth with mixed up teams from both unis. Since it was a friendly session, we had plenty of fun and some new trials of positions (a peek to the future maybe). Marcus volunteered to become the libero at the backcourt whilst choosing to set while being front court. The confusion on his face during playing was an indicator that he’d better stick to hitting instead! Whereas captain Felipe had a massive one-man block against a huge hit from the opposite side. Perhaps we should experiment putting him as the middle guy on the next training session, hmm. Overall, the after session was great fun (especially for Felipe as he was chatting up the ref called Katie!) and draws a nice conclusion for our road trip.

conference cup

Player of the Match: Marcus Clifford

Written by: Chan Sheng