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

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          

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Kate Wyver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Lorena Bălan

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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Karoline Dronnen

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

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 1sts BDVA Tournament (21/11/2015)

Ladies 1sts BDVA Tournament (21/11/2015)

Ah the weekend…Time to sleep in after an excessive party, to binge watch your favourite TV show and to regain strength for the next week. Oh or… you could get up way too early, leave your house, travel in the ice-cold wind to a gym heated up to the toasty temperature of you average refrigerator where you will freeze your butt of while playing all the people who you regularly see in your own gym just around the corner. That does sound like a lovely Saturday morning doesn’t it?

But at least it was not just the Ladies 1st Team who needed to neglect their much beloved beauty sleep! The whole Bristol Volleyball Family fought the mighty hangover and the arctic temperatures to compete in the BDVA-tournament. One of the ladies almost didn’t make it though due to a hot and greasy morning date with a mysterious man. Don’t worry though your dirty little secrets are safe with me.

The Ladies were starting with a clean slate after two triumphs and two shameful defeats but the spirits were never higher. This was partially due to a great team spirit but it was mostly the promise of soft, buttery German-chocolate-cookies brought out the fighter in every single player.

But then the first task that seemed almost impossible: warming up the icy-cold hand and feet and stealing some “not totally shitty” balls from the second team’s bag! After totally killing this task the next one proved even more difficult: Bath Uni! Like usual our team needed some time in the first set to remember how to actually  play Volleyball  but then –  let me tell you – textbook volleyball. Our very own Patricia ‘Sharapova’ Mejia pushed out one perfect set after the other, only stopping to hit the hardest serves of the day. But she is also the only one making inappropriate noises while serving… this is not tennis you know! But the star of this set was without a doubt Jasmine ‘I’ll hit You Where It Hurts’ Zhang who was smacking it hard but was cold-blooded enough to tip it to the right place at the right time securing the final point (26-24) with a long push to position five.
The great volleyball continued in the second set with beautiful passing by Libero ‘Anna Watch Out Karoline’ Meletiou and well-placed tips by Adelaide ‘Tipping Is Not optional Where I’m From’ Hargreaves. All in all, a great effort from everyone and another win for the Bristol Ladies!

The day was not over though and a moral dilemma was coming up…how do you play against your own family? Ladies 1st vs. Ladies 2nd! The clash of the Titans! Only the Klitschko Brothers could understand this feeling. (Do British people even know those guys? Have they ever boxed against each other? Why do people even watch boxing? That is just a weird sport.) Especially for Gaby ‘I Am An Asset To Any Team’ Cropper this was difficult situation.  After a strong start the Ladies started to look as guilty as a little kid after eating the cookies which were intended for Santa Claus. (Do people in the U.K. even do that? Is he called Santa Claus here?) However the hunger for a double win and baked goods was stronger than the guilt of beating your own family and the Ladies 1st were leaving the court with two wins. Hopefully time is gonna heal those deep wounds and our sisters will forgive us.

However, the best part was still to come: even though we won two games, our lovely coach Abi ‘Drill Sergeant’ Wooden made the whole team do 5 crunches for every serve someone missed, providing us with irritated looks by the Bath Team. Special thanks to Jalayna ‘Oh Swing On That’ Szepesi for coming with us and giving tips and feedback.

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Player of the Match and Coaches’ pick: goes to Jasmine ‘Smack That’ Zhang for beautifully placed tips and smart attacks! Also thanks for taking the time to play Wednesday and Saturday #commitment!!!
Special mention to Gaby ‘I Serve It Everytime’ Copper for her serving streak in the second game!

We are growing together as a team and everyone has improved…Proud to play with you guys!

Written by: Johanna Mast

Ladies 1sts vs Cardiff 1sts (11/11/2015)

Ladies 1sts vs Cardiff 1sts (11/11/2015)

On Wednesday the 11th of November 2015, the Ladies’ First Team fought a long and hard battle against the fury that was Cardiff. The team warm up began with excitement and talk of the latest episode of Desperate Housewives, which was hastily shot down by Setter Cheryl “I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed” Nordal who asked for more focus from the players. Following the warm up came a pep talk from stand in Coach Christopher “Triple Ripple” Sherfield, who told the team that this was going to be the battle of the century… Little did the girls know just how right, the wise and extremely handsome Coach was. This would be longer than any game they had ever played, longer than all three of the Lord of the Rings (extended editions), and even longer than Michael “Big Mike” Wilsher’s pen 15 fan club mailing list. After several big hits from Sylvia “I’m Sorry” Betrosian and the powerful blocks of Shatha “I put Kuwait on the map” Al-Huneidi, the girls were ready to take the first set as their own. Cardiff, however had different ideas and despite the girls’ best efforts the end of the set showed their Welsh counterparts as the victors, taking the set by two points at 25:23. The loss was absolutely devastating to these hard working girls, even more devastating than having to be carried home from a night out at Bunker…Despite these feeling’s the ladies shook off their loss and started getting hyphy for the next set’s adventures.

The second set gave way to the incredible Kate “Jumping just isn’t my thing” Wyver stepping into the game. Her powerful swings and strong cross court serves were no match for Cardiff. Alongside this the dream team, the magnificent marvel, the absolute abundance of awesomeness that was Jalayna “Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me” Szepesi and Cheryl “Guys I just wanna go home” Nordal, were absolutely killin’ it, as Canadians do. Despite their best efforts to shut Szepesi out of the game with their impressive defense and big blocks, she continued to smash the ball onto the opposite side of the court like it was her day job. Special mention to Al-Huneidi for her incredibly consistent blocking and hitting through the middle. These spectacular players brought the second set to a close at 25:18 for Bristol, giving their little Welsh friends something to bring back to the sheep.

The third set was about to begin and tensions were high, higher than Rob “Sweaty Betty” Pennifold’s temperature during a warm up. Bristol began the set with high hopes in continuing their win, and proved that they were a team of truly hard-working and dedicated individuals. The powerhouse Al-Huneidi was given a chance to stop carrying the team and have a sip of water, while Abi “Net Touch” Wooden stepped into the game and showed Cardiff how to put the B in Bristol. Even with one of their players making a perfect pass with her foot, Cardiff was unable to cope with the Bristol fury that resulted in another set being taken 25:14. The ladies absolutely dominated in this set, thanks to the hulk of a middle Catherine “Tangy Cheese” Wright and fantastic passing from libero Karoline “I can dig that, anytime, anywhere” Antoinette Dronnen.

The Bristol Ladies could taste the victory and despite their exhaustion went into the fourth set with high spirits. These feelings of enthusiasm were slowly demolished by the Cardiff team, who clearly wasn’t going to give up yet. With strong opposite hitting from Lorena “Smack That” Balan the girls were able to score several points, but lost their momentum, which can only be blamed on the incredibly dramatic line judging by John “Olaf” House and Jacob “Tennis Knee” Webster who decided it would be fun to wave their hands in the air like they just didn’t care throughout the set. This was soon brought to a close by Christopher “The Handsome” Sherfield who politely asked them to stop, showing the girls that his dedication to their cause was truer than true. Despite these heroic actions the girls lost the set 25:15, and thus the game would be decided in the fifth and final set.

This set was full of magical moments of happiness, tears, anger and even religious callings. The ladies knew what was on the line and looked to their Coach for the game plan, which he simply told them was to win. The set did not start off as well as the team had hoped, down 7:1 their spirits were slowly being sucked out of them, as if the Cardiff team had suddenly become dementors. A time out was called and Coach Sherfield told the girls to take a break, and focus on the game ahead of them. So, the girls put aside their exhaustion and buckled up for the ride ahead. With Betrosian’s fantastic outside hitting and Al-Huneidi’s strong serving, the ladies were able to gain momentum and bring the score back up to 11:14. With the game on the line the ladies knew what the cost of one mistake would be. Another Bristol time out was called as Coach Chris-top-hair told the team the game plan, “Cheryl’s going to set Jalayna and she’s going to f”ckin’ nail it”. A simple plan, from a simple man. Stepping back onto the court the ladies felt a mix of excitement and sadness that can only be compared to that of biting into a doughnut and expecting jam, but getting custard instead. The Cardiff team took to the court and served a mean ball at Bristol, which resulted in Cheryl “Can I Just Say Something” Nordal running to position five to try and make a perfect set out to Szepesi in position two. Now you may ask yourself what are the chances of this actually happening? But let me tell you those two Canadian Polar Bears absolutely killed it! A backwards bump from Nordal straight into the waiting hand of Szepesi resulted in a blast from the past hit onto the opposite side of the court.

With this Szepesi herself was now going back to serve the ball that she had earned. A fantastic jump float resulted in yet another point, and the ladies were beginning to feel as though this might not be the end. At 13:14 the tension could have been cut with a knife, as both teams were sweating more than Plinio “Blue Towel” Zanini in the Men’s previous match that day. The ladies managed to score another two points through their fantastic game-play, which resulted in a time out on the Cardiff side. The ladies were using this break to breathe and re-fuel, Szepesi however had other ideas about how the time out should be handled. By huddling in closely Priest Szepesi gave the team a Sermon and directly channeled the power of God. The team cheered with any energy that they could muster up and stepped back onto the court. What happened next was truly magical, Szepesi’s serve floated over the Cardiff team and dropped on the back line. ACE! ACE! ACE! Bristol wins the set 16:14 due to the holy power of the heavens! No matter what the cause, the girls exploded into a spinning circle of pure joy and utter exhaustion. Christopher “I’m a man” Sherfield clearly felt he had no place in the celebrations and instead took the far better alternative of standing awkwardly beside them. Smooth dude.

Bristol Ladies remain at the top of the league, having won 4/5 of their games this season.  Next week’s challenge will be a home game against the mighty Gloucestershire University.

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Player of the Match goes to two exceptionally talented ladies: Miss Shatha and Miss Jalayna for their heroic game play, you two carried the team with your consistently strong hitting and serving.

Man of the Match: Christopher “Awesome Pants” Sherfield, for giving us great tips and game plans, which led us to a victory in the hardest game we’ve played all season. Thanks Chris, we all really appreciate it!

*Special mention to God, who really helped us out with that last point! Cheers God.

Thanks to Matteo and Rob for reffing, and to John and Jacob for line judging.

See you guys next week!

Written by: Cheryl Nordal

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

Ladies 1sts vs UWE 1sts (28/10/2015)

Ladies 1sts vs UWE 1sts (28/10/2015)

On Wednesday 28th of October both of the 1st teams faced their local rival UWE, for the first time since Varsity, in a double home match to the death! (All right it was not that dramatic…). After a wonderful win from the men’s team, the pressure was on the ladies:

The 1st set started with a killer serve from Shatha “Roof” Al-Huneidi, the Kuwaiti/Australian force to be reckoned with; however, Bristol lost the ball quite quickly. Coming back strong with more killer serves from Cheryl “Soft hands” Nordal, the serve fest continued with awesome serves from all the players and UWE was helpless to return any of the balls that came their way. When the ball did come back they were kind enough to pass it right back over as a free ball (such babes). The set ends at 25-9 for Bristol with Al-Huneidi serving a hammer ball with deadly precision that landed on the opposition’s floor.

The 2nd set started off with Bristol losing the 1st point, as you do. However as always we came back stronger with our setter going on a serving spree along with the rest of the players acing every single one of them. Enter Jasmine “It Ain’t No Thang” Zhang, and Patricia “Dominican Setting Storm” Mejia in the 2nd set Bristol dominated with some amazing play. Particularly Anna “Unbreakable Wall” Linton’s block that could be heard all the way over the ocean to the surrounding countries. I don’t think she will ever forget about that one, and its story will be passed down for generations to come. The libero Karoline “Oversized Match Top” Drønnen was also back in play with a wonderful dive, that I will remember for all time (and for the record it felt amazing!). Bristol wins the set at 25-14 with the strangest and confusing lucky ball that I have ever seen, however we powered on to the 3rd set.

In the 3rd and final set Kate “The Great” Wyver started Bristol off with a serve that surpassed the speed of light, and in usual form Bristol lost the ball after the 1st point. Well back on track we saw some amazing serving from all of the players especially Al-Huneidi and Zhang,  as well as Catherine “The Wall” Wright and Jalayna “Tornado” Szepesi. The ball kept coming back on Bristol’s middle blockers, which was a fatal mistake from UWE, where every single middle killed the ball to the ground with a BANG. After a little bit of confusion with the new rotation, Bristol had their last serve by the setting legend Nordal that went swimmingly along with some great clapping and cheering from the crowd. Bristol wins the set and closes the game at 25-12.

Bristol vs UWE

Player of the Match: This one goes out to Jasmine “It ain’t no thang” Zhang for her amazing presence on court,  as well as her steady hitting that went in every time with stealthy accuracy, as well as the killer serves. We will see great things from this one in the future ☺

Big thank you to our coach that keeps us on track, and a special thank you to everyone who showed up and gave us their support. I know it had nothing to do with the cookies (we don’t bribe people or anything…), and you all just wanted to experience some 1st class volleyball ☺ Special shout out to the loud piratelike cheering from Jacob Webster as well. We really appreciate everyone being there even if it was a “snorefest”, as stated by the one and only club captain John House.

Next week Bristol travels across borders to go to Wales and take on Swansea, which will be an exciting and thrilling experience I am sure. Sans the cookies unfortunately.

Written by: Karoline Drønnen

Ladies 1sts vs Exeter 1sts (21/10/2015)

Ladies 1sts vs Exeter 1sts (21/10/2015)

On Wednesday, 21st of October, Ladies 1sts faced Exeter 1sts, former Premier League team, on their first home match of the season.

First set began with confident hits from 4 and 2 from Jalayna ‘Hurricane’ Szepesi (nickname inspired by coach Lorenzo) and Lorena Bălan, as well as great passes from the now fully recovered libero and Alpha Captain, Karoline Drønnen. Maintaining a steady rhythm thanks to Cheryl Nordal’s never-failing setting skills, the ladies win the set with a score of 25-22.

With more double touches being called out than in a crowded, dodgy Eastern European nightclub (and believe me, I would know), the frustration levels were rising in the second set. Finally, in a furious release of energy, Bălan manages to shoot an attack from 4, hitting Lorenzo’s favourite target – corner along the line -, never to be returned by the Exeter team. Proud is not a strong enough word to describe my feelings about that shot. It’s borderline narcissistic. My grandchildren will know about that hit. But anyway, moving on from my shameless bragging and on to more relevant stuff. Despite the efforts of all players (including some strong hits from Sylvia ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Betrosian – again, nickname inspired by the ladies’ coach), Bristol narrowly loses the second set, at the mirrored score of 22-25.

Exeter cunningly succeeded in keeping their momentum from the previous set, gaining a solid lead at the beginning of the third one. Stuck on serve-receive for too many points at a time, Bristol was having trouble finding their feet and covering the court well. Not even Beta Captain’s* inspirational pep talk during timeout, encouraging players to <<be more like ducks>>, managed to get Bristol back up, losing the set to a painful 25-9.

Fourth set saw Catherine Wright back in her powerhouse, playing middle, plus Szepesi in the opposite position again, and again this was the lucky charm. Take that and some imposing blocking and serving thanks to Shatha Al-Huneidi, and you get an amazingly gripping match, keeping everyone on the edge of their seat as Bristol returns to take back the game and win 25-23, pushing the match into a decider.

Final set, as many of the spectators have said, ‘could have gone either way’. Feeling empowered by the great comeback in the previous set, the ladies entered the court with great confidence. The game was incredibly intense, with both teams keeping close to each other, point by point, until change of courts at 8. Then, after a couple of balls slipping through a slightly shaky block and falling short when Bristol was defending too deep, along with a minor distraction with a sweaty ball (thank you John House for graciously wiping it clean in a ‘pregnant lady’ type of stance), the ladies seemed to have lost concentration for the last points. Taking advantage of the situation, Exeter targeted three vulnerable corners in a row and took away the match, leaving Bristol with the biggest desire for revenge in their next encounter.

Thanks to Christopher Sherfield and John House for reffing, and for everyone who came to show their support. You are some beautiful human beings, and the atmosphere was out of this world thanks to you!

Player of the Match: The one and only Cheryl ‘Soft Hands’ Nordal, for being a solid, consistent player game in and game out, finding solutions when no one else could think of a way out. She does not get enough credit as she’d deserve, but we’d be in BIG trouble without her on the team and her beautifully placed sets (& cheeky tips)!

// Special mention to our wonderful, exotic-rooted middle player, Shatha Al-Huneidi, whose serves broke Exeter’s rhythm and allowed us back into the match. Not only that, but the blocks she managed to complete might just make her a suitable candidate for the new ‘ROOF!’ nickname. Well done Shatha, and congratulations on putting Kuwait on the map for many, many of us… //

I’m told I should end the report with ‘Onwards’, but I choose to be a rebel and not do that. *insert abrupt ending here*

Written by: Lorena Bălan

*Beta Captain = Jalayna Szepesi, designated captain on court for all matches, as the Libero is not allowed to fill in the role officially or on any kind of paper trail

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

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

Bristol Ladies’ 1st v Cardiff Ladies’ 1st 15/10/14

Bristol Ladies’ 1st v Cardiff Ladies’ 1st 15/10/14

Match Report

On the 15th October 2014 the University of Bristol Ladies’ 1st team got their BUCS campaign started with a home fixture against the might of Cardiff. Given the international status of the fixture, the Ladies knew that they weren’t only playing for the pride of Bristol but also the pride of a nation, a nation in dire need of rejuvenation after the agonising Summer of sporting disappointment in the World Cup. The Ladies knew they were the team for the job.

Ladies_v_Cardiff_15_10_14The crowd at Tyndall Avenue was eager for a spectacle, however there were some early problems. Having clearly forgotten to check the memo, Cardiff turned up in a traditional red strip to face off against a Bristol side sporting a lovely, new, fresh, vibrantly red kit. Putting this problem aside, the new Ladies captain Ellie Harrison put aside her pre-toss nerves to call correctly – Bristol would serve first.

Bristol got off to an absolute flyer, gaining an early 4 point lead in the first set, thanks to some consistent passing from Bălan and Weegenaar. With the new-look side gelling instantly, the Ladies appeared a solid outfit sure to strike fear and envy into their opponents this year, with setter Nordal showing the softest of soft hands. Despite letting Cardiff back into the set slightly, the Ladies ran out 25-23 winners, taking an early 1 set lead.

Having been roused during the interval by a patriotic rendition of ‘Jerusalem’ by Jacob ‘Songbird of a generation’ Webster, the Ladies took to the court again in the second set, aiming to extend their lead. The second set was a much tenser affair, with the lead changing hands many times. Despite Catherine showing her team the ‘Wright’ (stupundous) way to serve, by smashing in 4 of them unanswered, Cardiff gained some vital momentum and took the set 25-20, equalising the set score to 1-1.

The third set began in a similar fashion, with both teams playing good volleyball and looking more evenly matched than a completed spot the difference puzzle. However, the set looked all but finished with Bristol 23-17 up. Much to Bristol’s dismay, a good run of serving by Cardiff gave them 8 points in a row and consequently the set, making the score 2-1 Cardiff.

Knowing another lost set would also mean the match, the Ladies returned to the court with a renewed purpose. New international signing Federica Cimatti summed up Bristol’s resilience perfectly with a hard working performance, including a majestic smash down the line that left the entire hall stunned. The Bristol team smelt blood – quite literally – as one of the Cardiff players spilt her Welsh Claret all over the court after diving for a particularly vicious spike. Ignoring her medical instincts, Weegenaar continued to serve superbly, helping Bristol to a 25-16 win, leaving the match poised at 2-2.

With the sports hall filling up with the Ladies’ Second Team, Bristol took to the court one final time for the tiebreak. With every point drawing shouts of joy or anguish from the crowd, and multiple eardrum breaking yells from Club Captain Rob ‘Skype?’ Pennifold, the set remained as closely fought as ever. At the obligatory switching of sides Bristol led 8-7 and the crowd sensed victory. At 14-13 the Ladies had their match point. As Cimatti smashed the ball down into the Cardiff side the crowd and team erupted. Never had such joy been felt. Never had a victory been so deserved and heartfelt.

Then one short whistle blast pierced the euphoria like a hot knife through celebratory butter.

Pawel ‘You’re dead to the Ladies’ team’ Laskowski had called a foot fault under the net.

With the game resuming now at 14-14 the script had been written. Cardiff scored two points in a row and thus ran out 3-2 winners.

The Ladies, so cruelly denied by the Polish enigma, should be congratulated for the way in which they played, never giving up until the (second) final whistle. They have many positives to take away from the game.

‘Lady of the Match’ goes to Celestine Weegenaar for an outstanding display in all areas of the game.

Our thanks go to Chris Sherfield for his rigorous display as 1st Referee, to Mike Wilsher for scoring, to Millie Mercer and Marcus Clifford for line judging in their own, beautifully unique ways and to everyone who came along to support.

Pawel, see you at training.

Written by John House

Student Cup – Ladies 10/11/13

Student Cup – Ladies 10/11/13

Match Report

The UOB Volleyball Ladies’ First Team took to the court in Ashcombe on Sunday 10th November for the annual Student Cup qualifying round. Following an early start, we were first up against Chichester 2nd’s. Having observed them during the warm-up, we were confident we could beat them and did so in two straight sets 25-9, 25-8. With players competing for the first time in a University match, newcomers such as Ellie Harrison and Vessy Dobreva gelled instantly with the team and we worked through our rotations competently as the match played out. Impressive setting from Kahmun Hor was also vital to our first win and Coach Lorenzo Marvulli’s “praise” for the other team kept spirits high.

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Next, we played the Falmouth and Exeter Ladies’ Team. We knew they would be tougher opponents and this showed in our first set defeat by 25-22. We returned to the second set with determination and high energy. With consistent blocks and serves from Catherine Wright, alongside solid hits from Lorena Bălan, we proved our worth in beating them 25-15, and again in the 3rd set 15-4 – some could say it was a “blood bath”.

thumbs_upOur final and without doubt toughest match was against Brighton University. Having continued straight on from the previous match, we remained positive and focussed, starting play confidently. We returned their tough serves and hits with purpose, but our energy started to falter and we lost the first set 15-25. LuluB Tsang’s reliable sets and serves kept us in the game and though we tried profusely to keep up energy and concentration, they beat us again 25-17. As a result, we finished 2nd in the pool; incredible considering we were missing some top hitters and worked with new combinations of players. We will have to wait and see the other pools’ results before we know if we have made it to the final.

Player Of The Day: Lorena Bălan

Written by Georgia Walker, 1st Team Captain

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