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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Man of the Match: Paolo Abrami

Written by: John House

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

A sterling job.

Cheers all the best,

Craig

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Player of the Match: Paolo Abrami

Written by: Craig Tavares-McKoy

Bristol Mens 1sts at Student Cup Qualifiers 2015 (28/11/2015)

Bristol Mens 1sts at Student Cup Qualifiers 2015 (28/11/2015)

On the 28th of November 10 intrepid male Volleyballers took part in Student Cup qualifiers 2015 in Bournemouth. The day was long, games were tiring, food was varied, toilets were scarce, phones were without charge and as ever, lasting friendships were made.
Deciding to not be as careful as the Ladies 1sts, the Men decided to meet at 5.45am, leaving them an hour window within which to get lost/break down, rather than the two hours the Ladies afforded themselves. Then again, such a decision seems logical to anyone who watched Abi Wooden come astonishingly close to causing some serious damage to a McDonalds, despite only travelling at about 2mph.
As with any meeting time scheduled before 12pm, Fergus Henry Shaw was not present, having once again slept through his alarm. Perhaps something other than Radio 2 would be better as a wake up call Fergus. With Christopher ‘sass’ Sherfield demonstrating the kind of sympathy he has become synonymous with, he promptly left the job of getting Fergus to the other driver John ‘The Motivator’ House as he set off for Bournemouth without delay.
A quick phone call later that contained just the right level of threatening annoyance in the tone of voice and Fergus was picked up outside of his house, albeit barefoot and rapidly stuffing a bag full of clothes.
When a journey is scheduled for 5.45am in the morning one would feel safe assuming that it would not be eventful. In the case of Gertrude the ever reliable Volkswagen Golf this was untrue. Spurred on by a playlist so adventurous it had its own Scouts badge, the men of the hearty Golf had arguably the time of their lives. Whether it was discovering that team romancer Aidan McKay’s understanding of a simile or metaphor was horribly off kilter or the unnerve that comes with finding out that Craig ‘Ariana Grande’ Tavares-McKoy cant physically sleep in a moving vehicle and instead just closes his eyes and listens sneakily to all that is said, the men had a cracking time. Perhaps the greatest moment however was to come when Robert ‘New levels of sweat’ Pennifold phoned the Golf to suggest they stop and meet up with Sherfields car at a service station. To say there was glee in John ‘Lets go round Bath not through it’ House’s voice when he announced the Golf had already passed that service station and was thus ahead of the much better car being driven by Sherfield would be a massive understatement.
Arriving at Bournemouth the Men immediately bumped into the bleary eyed ladies team at the local M&S Garage, a choice of location that was rebuked fiercely by the thrifty duo of Shaw and Wilsher who refused to indulge in the high prices of the M&S Simply Good range and instead chose to walk down to the local Lidl where they were to buy some pretty foul tasting baked goods and a pot of pasta that would come back to haunt Shaw. But more on that later.
The Men were placed in a pool with Kent, Exeter 2nds, Oxford 1sts and Bournemouth 2nds. However Exeter decided that they would be some sneaky bananas and put their first team in as their second team, thus meaning that the Men faced an essential pool of death with 2 Premier level sides and 2 First division sides. But were they fazed? Were they heck.
Up first were the relative minnows of Kent. Starting with about as much enthusiasm as one of those self checkout assistants at Sainsburys the Men nonetheless opened up a lead over their opponents through some half hearted spiking from Captain Chris who looked about as cheerful as I did when I received a Furby for my 6th Birthday and it scared me so much I cried, (probably too much info there).  After taking the first set comfortably John ‘Life Coach’ House embarked on his first inspiring speech of the day. Imploring the troops to push harder and up the intensity as after all ‘you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’, Bristol came out for the second set with slightly more enthusiasm. NB Enthusiasm was still relatively low. However, with Kent not offering much in terms of resistance to the float serves of Pennifold, House, Wilsher and Sherfield it soon became a formality as Bristol walked away with the 2-0 victory.
As the Men sat down to watch Oxford take on Exeter their enthusiasm soon picked up. Witnessing what was a very good game of Volleyball, Middles House and Wilsher could be seen with beaming smiles across their faces as it became apparent for the first time this year they would actually face a middle who could rival them in terms of height and hitting. (I say rival, he was better than us but still). Thus when it came to play Exeter 1sts the Men were absolutely raring to go.
As the set began it became clear to the previously nonchalant Premier Exeter side that Bristol were not going to lie down. Anyone who was witness to this game will testify as to the phenomenal volleyball the men played. Craig ‘Bette Midler’ Tavares-McKoy served and spiked brilliantly, consistently finding the gaps in the Exeter defence. Rob ‘Amazon River’ Pennifold meanwhile was setting with pin point accuracy, finding every player at will, working beautifully with Wilsher and House through the middle. Chris ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ Sherfield galvanised the team at every opportunity, pushing them to raise their game whilst proving his own worth through a number of corking hits backed up as ever by his nonchalant passing. Plinio ‘thumbs’ Zanini meanwhile erected his own wall at 2, blocking attack after attack from the Exeter outside. As for Justin, he was everywhere at once, a man possessed by an uncoordinated, unnatural passing demon, unstoppable in defence he kept the ball alive at all times.
The Men were on a roll.
The turning point however came from the man with the worst facial hair to ever grace Bournemouth. Having been brought on purely to serve and looking like that 13 year old at School who matured way before everyone else in his year, Fergus Henry Shaw was unbelievable. Pulling out float serve after float serve, pass after pass, and even a glorious back court spike, Shaw gave the Bristol team an unassailable lead as they took the first set 25-20.
Helped by the smart words of Coach Lorenzo who the men had secured on loan for the game, they started the second set as they ended the first. John ‘If you don’t climb the mountain you cant see the view’ House ran a shoot straight out of heaven slamming the ball down with unrecognisable ferocity, before then running one so dogged and awful it caused groans from all as he cannoned the ball out the back of the court. Special mention meanwhile to Plinio, who, seeing the high level of his opponents decided to roll back the years and crack out the underarm serve. What a ballsy man. Talk about backing yourself. As Exeter improved however the men felt the pressure and at 20-20 called a timeout, knowing one more point guaranteed the victory. Putting on his headset and baseball cap, John ‘Playmaker’ House organised the team telling Pennifold that he would draw the middle block so he could set a quick ball to outside Sherfield who would then kill the ball against one block. And what did they do? Exactly that. Utterly brilliant. (Is my pride about this game coming through? Probably.)
With that in the bank it was just a formality as Bristol took the set 27-25 and the game 2-0.
Unbelievable.
The in between times saw Fergus come a cropper thanks to the aforementioned Pasta as it exploded with all its chicken tikka goodness into his bag, covering everything from his clothes to his cinnamon bun. Not to be deterred and never one to waste anything, Fergus swept up the Pasta back into the pot and consumed it heartily, remarking that ‘It tastes a bit like floor’. Lovely.
The Mens next game was against Oxford 1sts, a team with a fantastic array of players. As ever Justin ‘twinkletoes’ Hui took it upon himself to keep Bristol in the game, using his unique abilities to recover the majority of the Oxford hits. With Pennifold setting well, and Matt ‘100%’ Birch even coming on to unleash a fierce spike, the Men stayed with Oxford the whole way, succumbing to a 25-20 loss in each set.
Nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes you have to accept a team is better than you, and after the herculean effort against Exeter this was always going to be tricky.
For anyone on the Mens team 12 months ago, the thought of the final game against Bournemouth filled them with dread. For it was a year ago that the Men could do nothing but watch as Liverpool beat them in the final game, with Bristol having nothing left in the tank. Thus it was that 7 weary men entered the court for the final game.
I say 7 weary men. 6 weary men, and the sassiest player to ever grace the court, Mr Christopher Sherfield.
At 16-11 to Bristol, the Bournemouth setter injured his foot and had to leave the court. However having already been subbed on and off he could not be replaced again. This Bristol had no problem with, they were happy to accept the injury. However, Bournemouth then tried to change their Libero to the setter, which is not within the rules. Protesting this quite rightly Bristol were awarded the set as a walkover. With the delightful Bournemouth coach visiting Chris on court and calling him some very kind names, Chris might as well have responded with a flick of his hair and click of his fingers as he dismissed the Bournemouth coach with the confidence of Beyonce. The decision however, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth by the Bournemouth coach, who remains firmly up the rear of Volleyball England it seems, was turned over.
Bournemouth understandably came back stronger, however Bristol were too much of a match for them and took the first set 25-20.
Falling behind 18-12 in the second set however, Bristol feared the worst. Energy was low and it wasn’t looking good. Step up Messrs Sherfield and Tavares-McKoy. With Middle House pretending to be selfless (but in reality being too tired to hit) by telling Pennifold to set outside, the two juggernauts at outside took on the challenge and smashed it home. Bristol won the set 25-20 and all was right with the world.
With 3 wins from 4 in what was a pool of death the Men had an absolutely cracking day and did all they can to get through to the next round.
Positives aplenty to take forward. It was one hell of a day and all who attended came back with the biggest of smiles on their faces. Apart from Craig. He was really tired.
Man of the Tournament – Without any doubt – Justin Hui. Unbelievable sir.
Mens 1sts Student Cup
Onwards.
Written by: John House

 

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

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

On Saturday 21st November, the Men’s 1st team travelled to Keynsham for the big one. The one that everyone had been waiting for. The clash of titans. The UOBVC Men’s 1st team took on the UOBVC Men’s 2nd team. Oh, and Bath.

With this season’s later starting time of 11.30, the Men arrived at Wellsway School fresh as a daisy, having had a nice lie in and plenty of time to get ready. Extraordinarily, however, one player was missing. With Mike worried that he might lose his ‘shirtless rave’ reputation, Fergus ‘3 alarms’ Shaw had somehow managed to oversleep and miss his lift.

Even without their full squad, the Men had to go on. Every player was keen to step up. With team captain Chris ‘Cream of Mushroom’ Sherfield taking on a coaching role and thus sacrificing himself from the starting line-up, Rob ‘Not very sweaty at all’ Pennifold was named on-court captain. Not satisfied with this meagre promotion however, Pennifold took it upon himself to become the full captain, marching up to the pre-game coin toss (well actually, it was a ‘guess which hand the whistle is in’. in case you were wondering), much to the despair of Sherfield. The ‘coin toss’ was won, however, with Rob ‘Dry as a freshly tumble-dried towel’ Pennifold choosing to serve. The team talk was short and to the point: ‘Let’s show the 2nd team why we’re the 1st team’.

Unfortunately, it didn’t appear to work. There’s not much to say about the first set, other than it was an extremely lacklustre performance from the Men. Some mildly-acceptable passing from Aidan ‘But you said there was no line to cross’ Mckay and Jonny ‘Sir, Yes Sir’ Childs, mediocre setting from Rob ‘Dry as the Atacama desert’ Pennifold and decent-enough hitting from Plinio ‘Set me!’ Zanini, Craig ‘Charlotte Church’ Tavares-McKoy* and Mike ‘Chips and gravy’ Wilsher, and, more importantly, a superb run of serves from Matt ‘Casual’ Birch, the Men won the first set 25-20.

*The University of Bristol Volleyball Club would like to clarify that this reference is purely to Craig’s singing ability, and nothing to do with his attendance of anti-austerity protest marches, nor his preference for dating famous Welsh Rugby players, for which we can make no comment. We also desperately hope that he never decides to rebel from his classical background to release an awful pop song called ‘Crazy Chick’. Don’t do it Craig, you’re so much better than that.

Needless to say, Chris ‘Tom Yum’ Sherfield was not impressed, labelling it as the worst set of volleyball the team had ever played. He fired the team up, returning them to the court with renewed hunger. Brilliant passing from Felipe ‘This isn’t a nickname, but apparently Mexicans put dried meat in their cocktails. Weird.’ Galindo Sanchez and Justin ‘Alakazam’ Hui. Fantastic line hitting from Childs and Plinio ‘Come on Rob, set me!’ Zanini. The Men slammed home point after point, until they’d gained enough of an advantage that they were confident in seeing out the match. However, that point came when they were just 3-0 up. With the rest of the set panning out rather limply like the first, the Men nonetheless closed out the match, taking a 2-0 win.

While the Men took a break, the supporters continued, with Mrs. Pennifold (my Mother, I’m not quite old enough to be married just yet) striving to learn the rules from McKay’s other half Josie, who ‘did a wonderful job, such a delightful young lady’. Meanwhile, Fergus ‘Henry’ Shaw finally arrived ready to play the second game against Bath.

Now any of you who are acquainted with members of the first team will know that they all have egos more sizeable than Mike’s… err… leg, and certainly don’t need boosting. So I assure you that Sherfield’s decision to put himself on court had no correlation whatsoever with every other player seeming to raise their game and put on an actually quite decent performance for the first set. With Wilsher and Birch running some excellent middle attacks, with Birch already learning of Wilsher’s ability to whisper ‘Reverse’ right before the setter plays the ball, the Men took a good lead. They also decided to actually serve in the court, which helped, in spite of Plinio ‘Pleeeeeease set me, Rob!!!’ Zanini ambitiously attempting a jump serve. Not quite the standard of Craig’s yet, but I’m sure you’ll get there, ‘my sweaty friend’. Anyway, the Men took the first set 25-17.

Of course it didn’t last. Having excelled in the second set to take a strong lead of 15-7, with Shaw and Childs both hitting superbly, Chris ‘Beef Broth’ Sherfield substituted himself off. Again, as if by magic, and no correlation with Chris’ ability on court, the rest of the team slumped. Bath capitalised on this, bringing back a number of points, and eventually winning the second set 25-23.

The third set was to be to 15. Sherfield, clearly not at all satisfied with the performance so far that day, told the team to have no mercy on the Bath team, who had just celebrated winning a set like they’d won the World Cup. The Men had clearly had enough of playing badly, so they went out in the final set with a new sense of supremity. With Sherfield actually meriting his ego boost this time, scoring 4 of the first 8 points before the side-change with some excellent hitting, the Men opened up a big advantage. They finally managed to continue it throughout the set, with each player showing a resemblance of their real ability. Finishing on a high, the Men took the final set 15-7 and thus the game 2-1.

Not the most pleasing of days, but two wins in preparation of the long journey to Warwick (4 hours?! Google says it’s only 1h 51 minutes!) for Wednesday’s BUCS Trophy match.

Onwards.

Player of the Match: Matt Birch

Written by Rob Pennifold

Mens 1sts vs USW 1sts (11/11/15)

Mens 1sts vs USW 1sts (11/11/15)

On the 11th November the Mens 1sts took on their biggest challenge of the year so far in the form of USW, a team who sat 2nd in the league.

Arriving as ever looking as fresh as a 5 pack of doughnuts from Sainsburys that ‘Have been previously frozen’ the Men were quickly put through their paces by yet another overtly energetic warm up courtesy of Coach Matteo. With Rob ‘Sweaty Betty’ Pennifold and Plinio ‘Moist Towelette’ Zanini already working towards filling a small swimming pool the Men were delighted when the whistle to start warming up through 4 gifted them a well deserved break.
Such delight however soon turned to alarm at the sight of the lack of control the USW middles had over their jumps, with most of them plowing straight through the net, leading to many concerned looks from the already walking wounded on the Bristol side. Ankle strength is certainly not a core power of the Mens 1st team.

The Men began the 1st set as they begin most 1st sets, by losing the first 4 points. This however, was to be the only time Bristol fell behind in the entire game. With the wind in their proverbial sails, or if you prefer, the wind in John ‘Holiday Weight’ House’s bingo wings, the Men fought back superbly and quashed any USW hopes with an array of blocks and colossal spikes courtesy of Craig ‘Toni Braxton’ Tavares-McKoy, helped as ever by the on point setting of Betty. Christopher ‘#tripleripple’ Sherfield meanwhile, making his dramatic return to the squad after a week off, shook off some early cobwebs to do what he does best – take every bloody set… leaving nothing for his particularly handsome middles Webster and House. As the set progressed at significant pace the aforementioned Zanini, channeling his inner and outer teen wolf, smashed a ball down into the USW side only to double over in equal measure on the Bristol side having developed cramp 17 points into the game. Fitness clearly going well there. Such a fall also brought a key Bristol player into the game – the Blue towel. With Plinio having given the court a nice salty wipe through his fall, the court was mopped up with particular enthusiasm by all round hero and team player Coach Matteo. Just two points later USW lost another point by smashing the ball out of play…or so Jacob ‘Tennis Knee’ Webster thought, only realising the ball had been called in as he turned to serve. The look of indignation on his face will stick strong in the minds of all who attended, whilst he should also be praised for the particular aplomb with which he threw his arms up in protest.

More excitement was to come however, at 23-14, perennially poor passer House saw the ball dropping to the court in front of him after a deft tip from the USW setter. Whirring his body into motion the Great Oak began to fall, throwing some timber at the ball as he did so, sending the ball over into the USW side and securing the point. Whilst the majority of the team revelled in such a sight, no one was more happy than onlooking Performance Sport Guru Matt Paine, who’s unbridled joy was clear to see as he apparently lost control of his own limbs up on the balcony. Smooth Matt, smooth. With such scenes behind them the Men took the first set 25-14.

Bristol began the second set as they ended the first. By setting to Chris.

I joke. It’s just fun to wind Rob and Chris up.

Bristol did actually begin as they ended the first set however as they continued to play fantastic volleyball. Aided by the new power couple of Liberos’ Jaidan McHui, who alternated their time on court, the Men were able to unleash their full arsenal of hits. Seriously, great praise to Justin and Aidan, they were virtually faultless (Aidans music choice at the warm up slightly let him down). Bristol dominated throughout the early stages and had a 16-11 lead at the first time out. After a spike from House however Sherfield was visibly disgusted by the pace of the USW players roll of the ball back under the court which left much to be desired, indeed such was its audacity that there were rumours of a ‘tut’ being heard from the usually placid Bristol crowd. Yet more falls by the sweaty double act meanwhile meant that the Blue towel seemed to spend more time on court than off.Craig ‘Freddie Mercury’ Tavares-McKoy meanwhile found himself as the victim of the referees whistle, as he smashed a cracking jump serve over the net only to be unjustly ruled to have performed a foot fault. Despite these set backs the Men continued to dominate and took the set 25-21.

With the game highlighting Bristols fantastic potential as a side the third set was once again a spectacle for the watching crowd. With Coach Matteo making absolutely no changes on court, the Men were now in full flow. The blue towel meanwhile continued to make the most of what was now apparently its testimonial match as yet more streaks of salty joy were made across the court. At 18-15 the Men were confident the set was theirs. Such confidence however perhaps got the best of Middle House who after running a fantastically well set shoot, got way too excited and prematurely celebrated all over the court. Turning to see the ball landing in the Bristol court having ricocheted off a USW chest and foot House was left with egg on his face and a very painful hand courtesy of the most annoyed of high-fives from Captain Chris Sherfield. Soz Chris, but in fairness, statistically it happens to 1 in 5 Men. Having witnessed such a display Sherfield decided to take matters into his own hands, hitting 4 unreturned serves in a row. With Matteo bringing on Fergus ‘You know you’re drunk when’ Shaw he was clearly banking on the headband wearing opposite to unleash a meaty left arm swing to win the game. However Sherfield had other ideas swiftly serving another ace, before on the next and final point House stuffed the final USW hit. Unlucky Ferg. Thanks for coming though. Bristol thus took the set 25-18 and the game 3-0.

Player of the Match: The Blue Towel for a match saving performance.
Special mention though to Rob Pennifold, because he was astonishingly good.

Our thanks to Karoline ‘Enveloped’ Dronnen and Zoe Holt for refereeing the game.

The unbeaten streak continues.

Top of the league.

Guess what…

Onwards.

Written by: John House

Bournemouth Men 2nds vs Bristol Men 1sts (04/11/2015)

Bournemouth Men 2nds vs Bristol Men 1sts (04/11/2015)

On the 4th November the Mens 1st team undertook the journey of a volleyballing lifetime to Bournemouth to play in their latest BUCS match.
Now as we all know the Mens 1sts are currently riding a victory wave that refuses to break, however Bournemouth presented a new challenge. For it was 19 months ago that the Men last lost a BUCS game, and who was that against? Bournemouth. The very team they would face on this fateful day.

Like a student whose housemate had finished the last of their ketchup, Bristol were out for revenge. And so it was that at 11am on the miserable Wednesday morning that it was, the men assembled, swapped anecdotes about the weather and climbed into the convoy of cars that were to be driven by John ‘Jesus take the wheel’ House and Rob ‘Van Man’ Pennifold. With legroom about as available as Rob himself (he’s in a wonderfully sturdy relationship, our congratulations to him for that. For more information on that tune into this weeks Webster and House radio show. Okay plug done), the journey was a series of uncomfortable twists and turns that left the majority of the squad with considerable cramp and in Jacob ‘ping’ Webster’s case the effect on his hamstrings was a major fear for all who saw him wince at every bump. Special shout out to Justin ‘Team Rocket’ Hui who’s entire journey and frankly entire day was ruined when he realised he had forgotten his Pokemon pillow. Nightmare.

Perhaps the greatest moment of the day however came in a discussion about hair in the House Wagon, where Coach Matteo agreed that if the men were to win the league he would dye his hair a glorious shade of blonde after the final game. Men, if you ever needed more inspiration, there it is.

The men arrived in good time, of course they did, John ‘Militant Time Keeping’ House was in charge. They got changed and went in to the sports hall only to discover that the ceiling height was not dissimilar to that of an underground dungeon. Actually can you get dungeons that aren’t underground? Who knows, tweet me and let me know @JohnHouse94. Back to it, the ceiling height was disturbingly low and as was discovered during the warm up, players had to pass with the softest of hands if you wanted to succeed in not catapulting the ball into the rafters.

After said warm up the game got underway. Bristol started poorly to be completely honest and were 10-6 down at the first time out. However after Justin ‘Blastoise’ Hui began to find that passing groove the men were able to show their superiority in hitting and gain the points back. At 21-21 the first set was evenly poised, but with Craig ‘Donny Osmond’ Tavares-McKoy with ball in hand ready to serve the men were positive that the set was there. As he unleashed his jump serve however they were pleasantly surprised to be gifted the point due to Bournemouth rotation error (an error I should add that Coach Matteo was adamant he had spotted from the beginning). As Craig served again the result was the same. And again. And again. Quite simply Bristol were gifted the set 25-21. Cracking.

With such momentum the men now felt confident in the second set. To say the men fell apart would be an understatement. This was the Berlin Wall coming down, this was a massacre, a horror show. At 18-9 Coach Matteo called the second timeout and gave the hearty Bristolians the dressing down they deserved. Spurred on Bristol got their proverbial faeces together and began to pick away at the Bournemouth lead like the people who arrive last to a buffet, feasting on the scraps, or in this case scrappy Bournemouth play (Gr8 Segway) helped by the absolutely phenomenal serving of Oscar ‘Cannon Arm’ Parsley, who should also be commended for his outstanding movember effort only 5 days in. At 24-22 to Bournemouth however Craig ‘Neil Diamond’ Tavares-McKoy decided that a jump serve was the way forward, launching the ball out of the court with severe ferocity, much to the delight of the Bournemouth number 21 who appeared to have some of the aforementioned faeces in his trousers at the sight of Craig with the ball.

Not to be deterred Bristol were adamant that the third set was to be theirs. Despite having a micro-tantrum half way through the set Jacob ‘Easy Listening’ Webster found his form through the middle scoring a number of key points. Jonny ‘Curly Wurly’ Childs meanwhile found his arm and hit well through the outside. As Bournemouth used both their timeouts early doors they could only stand and watch as Bristol took them apart. John ‘#pumped’ House meanwhile began to construct what can only be described as a sturdy red brick wall between the Bristol side and the Bournemouth side as began to be block every thing the Bournemouth side attempted to hit. You know you’re doing well when Coach Matteo offers you a court-side high five (and I got two #showoff). Having said that I also ‘did a Rob’ and let the ball slip through my hands as I went to set, oh the shame. As the set approached its finality on came super-sub Plinio ‘Indoor voices’ Zanini, who cannoned his first set of the year after his injury break straight into the Bournemouth side before then serving 4 points in a row. What a return, what a hero. Bristol took the set 25-18.

From this point, and with Big Michael Wilsher and his fluorescent shoes on the court, the result of the game became a formality. With Plinio, Craig, Jonny, John and Mike getting in on the hitting act, Rob ‘his post match t shirt is like industrial waste’ Pennifold was presented with a plethora of options that he used to great effect. House continued to block like there was no tomorrow, whilst Mike executed a very weird but pleasing mini roll shot through the middle that worked like a charm. Bristol quite simply smashed their way through the Bournemouth ranks, taking the set 25-11 and thus the game 3-1.

Special thanks must go to the Webster Family for coming to watch the game. It was a delight to see you, as it always is, and I hope the game was fun to watch through the industrial standard glass that you had to sit behind that cut out all volume from the court. Our thanks again to you.

More thanks must go to Michael Wilsher for getting ready to have a shower after the game very energetically and, thanks to the fact I was sat down taking off my socks, for doing it at eye level. Oh what it must be to have so much body confidence. Also to Jacob Webster for keeping me company on the way home when Coach Matteo visited the land of nod as we drove along the darkest of country roads.

Player of the Match: John House (I should add this is a team vote I’m not just giving it to myself)

The Men remain top of their league, with a game in hand.

The Unbeaten run continues.

Onwards.

Written by: John House

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

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

On the 28th October the Mens 1sts entertained the University of the West of Englands Mens Volleyball 1st team at the impregnable castle that now is SEH.

The pre match hype was huge. With Club Captain John House’s Tuesday procrastination involving writing a number of arrogant tweets remarking on the unbeaten streak of Bristol against UWE (4 years and counting), the motivation for the team was available for all to see. No one wants to be the team to lose the streak and certainly not for 3 members of the team on wednesday with whom the great adventure began (Throwback to 2k12 John Rob Mike – good Mems boys).

With SEH filling up quicker than a student shower with a poorly cleaned plughole the Men warmed up with perhaps more gusto than usual. Its funny how that extra 10% of effort seems to get put in when there are people watching, particularly other halves, or perhaps people who you took on a first date the night before. But thats just me speculating. Special mention must go at this point to Fergus ‘Casanova’ Shaw and Jacob ‘wasnt expecting that’ Webster for their stellar warm up. Apparently the girls throwing down the ball from above after an errant pass got embarrassing after about the 6th time.

The first set got underway with some good distribution of the ball by Rob ‘Sweaty Betty’ Pennifold finding Jonny ‘Seaworthy’ Childs, Craig ‘Celine Dion’ Tavares McKoy and the middles of House and Webster who coincidentally have a their own radio show of the same name, Wednesdays 9am live on BURST radio (what a smooth and cracking segway that was into the plug). With the connections between setter and hitter stronger than that of a high grade AUX cable the men opened up an early lead which they then proceeded to hold for the entire set. Go us. The first set was won 25-21.

The second set began with a couple of missed points but once the men once again found their stride as they rocketed through the UWE side. Christopher ‘Tomato.’ Sherfield opened up his well rolled and impeccably stretched shoulders to hit nicely helping Bristol to a 25-18 win.

As the set ended the men however were not pleased. The crowd were baying for blood, or more cookies, it was one or the other. The men wanted to raise the atmosphere, they wanted to smash home the win. And smash it they did. The set began with a sumptuous shoot between Pennifold and House, the former who managed to make it the whole game without letting the ball slip between his hands. Top work. Next point saw a massive roof by House again who by this point was at delirious levels of enthusiasm. Sherfield then took over with 5 serves in a row that UWE could not respond to before launching his next float serve into the stratosphere as it cannoned off his palms. House then stepped up again and served 2 identical aces of his own before the delirium took over and he tried to welly one into the UWE side only to fail miserably. With Webster joining the court momentum continued as he executed two middle hits before taking 4 serves himself. This was a massacre, a mauling, an execution of volleyball prowess. Even Webster, one of the perennial poor middle passers of the team let loose an almighty perfect pass that House almost forgot to run for such was his admiration of its majesty. The set was over in a flash, the crowd bouncing, the men unstoppable. 25-9. Thank you very much for coming.

And so the men won 3-0.
And so the run against UWE continues #bullish
And so the mens 19 month unbeaten BUCS streak continues
And so I need to make more cookies, apparently they were good

Thanks to Tim Clifford and Lorena Balan for their refereeing.

Player of the Match: John House

Onwards.

Written by: John House

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

BUCS looms.

 

Onwards.

 

Written by: Fergus Shaw
Mens 1sts vs Exeter 1sts (Friendly) 11/10/2015

Mens 1sts vs Exeter 1sts (Friendly) 11/10/2015

On the 11th October the Mens 1sts played Exeter 1sts in a friendly at Fortress Tyndall. The first clash between the two sides in many years was a titanic affair, and as with any good old fashioned bout between gentleman, blood (allbeit a very minor amount) was spilt.

 

The men arrived at 9am and were greeted by Oscar ‘720 Ollie’ Parsleys musical choices. Whilst pump up music is a wonderful addition to any warm up, the 9am start meant that some team members enthusiasm did not quite match the lurid thumping of the selected ‘tuneage’. Such thoughts however were overshadowed by the now traditional late appearance of Pawel Laskowski who arrived 15 minutes after everyone else. Arriving in some casual trousers many of the new players on the team expected him no doubt to strip down to shorts once the game began. The stalwarts of the club however knew better and were overjoyed as ever to watch Pawel play the entire game in his loungewear. Despite what must be almost cataclysmic levels of heat on his legs, thanks to the luxurious nature of his cotton wonders, Mr Laskowski must be commended for sticking to his guns, and choosing fashion over suitability.

 

With the warm up over the men got down to the first set. Starting well the set gave members such as TS Kim and Fergus Shaw a chance to show off their hitting prowess, with the latter doing so still sporting his 1980’s headband look that so far has yielded many sideways glances and disapproving nods from the watching crowd. Exeter fought hard and opened up a substantial lead and with just one point needed for victory, looked comfortable at 24-16. It was at this point however that John House decided to use what God had gifted him and attempt to block with his sizeable face. Aiming to power the ball down with the notorious ‘Fivehead’ that graces his child like features, John was unlucky to quite literally watch the ball cannon into his left eye, resulting in him going down like a sack of potatoes. Special mention must go to coach Matteo who’s sympathy for John’s face was clear for all to see as he remarked to the bench that he had told John previously not to block like that so… With the ball unsurprisingly flying out Bristol lost the first set as John ‘Blinded by the Spike’ House stumbled over to the team talk as blood leaked from his now ruined face.

 

Perhaps emboldened and to be honest, greatly amused by the circumstances of the end of the first set the men came out stronger in the second set and matched Exeter point to point up until the score read 19-19. Unfortunately it was at this point that some uncharacteristic errors crept in to Bristols game and despite Felipe ‘3/4’ Galindo Sanchez blowing through the camera in an effort to get the ball back, leaving the tripod with a dodgy knee injury, the hearty Bristol 15 were left to ponder yet another set loss.

 

The third set saw Bristol return to the kit with a new determination to make a good game of it. The captain, Christopher ‘Carrot and Coriander’ Sherfield joined the court, as did the previous days wonder child Craig ‘Shirley Bassey’ Tavares McKoy. With the two of them hitting powerfully through the outside Bristol opened up a healthy lead over their Exeter compatriots. As ever however, coach Matteo was still not 100% pleased and voiced his confusion when a second ball was set by the now half blind John House to setter Nigel Chan who was unable to score a point. Despite protesting that Matteo had to just #believe, it was decided that that particular move would not be featuring in the leather-bound ‘Playbook’ that Matteo has made for the Mens team. With that now firmly behind them Bristol continued to push and took the set 25-19.

 

The fourth set was dominated by a combo meal so delicious it would put KFC to shame. With yet another shake up on court Pawel ‘Leisurewear’ Laskowski found himself at opposite whilst Nigel Chan was at setter. Rolling back the years they became the lethal combination of two years ago that the Exeter side simply could not handle with Laskowski finding the Exeter court time and time again. The set was also witness to one of the greatest nonchalant blocks ever performed by a Bristolian. Matt ‘Baptism by Fire’ Birch, perhaps captivated by the Chinese/Polish show being put on, simply popped up his hands when the Exeter serve came over and casually dropped it down into the Exeter side. Whilst highly against the rules, the block provided some glorious light relief for the watching bench. Matt, I salute you. Anyway, Aidan’d by some superb passing from Aidan (that was a bit of a stretch), Bristol easily won the set for Bristol 25-17.

 

And so it was to the final set, Bristol had clawed it back to 2-2 and there was quite literally everything to play for, although actually there was literally nothing to play for given the friendly nature of the game, but still, its fun to be dramatic. Bristol once more began strongly with Rob ‘Sweaty Betty’ Pennifold setting well to outside and middle. Indeed, despite Mike ‘Big Mike’ Wilsher falling over for absolutely no reason whatsoever, and Rob and Chris ‘Potato and Leek’ Sherfield exchanging some passes in an unconventional manner as they spiked it from side to side, Bristol opened up a 6 point lead. Emboldened by the support of the hearty Bristolians who had come down to watch Bristol pushed on and secured the set 25-22 and thus the game 3-2.

 

With that victory come yet more positives for the now unstoppable train that is the Mens 1st team.

 

Bristol vs Exeter

 

Thanks to Lorena ‘Tech Savvy’ Balan, Cheryl ‘Can I just say one thing’ Nordal, Abi ‘Net Touch’ Wooden and Felipe ‘Golden Oldie’ Sales De Frietas for refereeing and scoring.

 

Our thanks to all the supporters who came down and watched, you were awesome.

 

Onwards.

 

Written by: John House
Mens 1st vs Horfield Hornets and City of Bristol VC 10/10/2015

Mens 1st vs Horfield Hornets and City of Bristol VC 10/10/2015

On the 10th of October the Mens 1st team got their season underway with two games in the local B&DVA league.

 

The men were delighted with the slightly later start afforded to them with an 11.30am start. Travelling to the game, Felipe was introduced to English 00’s culture wonderfully through the choice of music from Michael Wilsher, who bounced along in the car along to Basshunter and Cascada. Top work Wilsher.

 

With debuts flying in from new signings such as Craig ‘Songbird of a generation’ Tavares-McKoy, Aidan ‘International man of mystery’ McKay, Matt Birch and Felipe Galindo Sanchez, as well as Captain Chris ‘Soup’ Sherfield’s first outing the team was a far cry from the Canadian dominated team of former years.

 

The team however put any fears to Monday night Bunker i.e. BED (see what I did there) however with a strong performance in the first game against Horfield. Despite already being as damp as a poorly managed student house, Rob ‘Sweaty Betty’ Pennifold came out all guns blazing with some strong sets to 4 and 2 which were ably dispatched by Chris Sherfield, Jonny Childs and Craig Tavares-McKoy. Indeed the set was a rather simple affair, with Bristol opening up a large lead from the very beginning which was maintained throughout, leaving the men with a 25-11 victory.

 

Perhaps emboldened by this early success, Bristol started the second set poorly with some simple mistakes creeping into their game. Rob continued to find 4 and 2 as easily as he finds a seat on public transport thanks to his advancing years, however the middles in the form of Michael Wilsher and John ‘Drunk on power’ House struggled a little with the new setter. As the set continued and Bristol focussed up the middles began to get more into the game, with Michael getting as high as he does at his shirtless raves to hit the ball powerfully into the Horfield side. This was also the moment for Craig to unfurl a previously unseen jump serve, leaving the bench particularly impressed with the casual nature of his celebrations afterwards. As the team came together well they buried any Horfield hopes with some great all round play coming away as 25-19 winners and thus winning the game 2-0.

 

The men had no time to breathe as they were straight back on court for their second game against the City of Bristol Volleyball Club. With tensions already high during the warm up thanks to some dubious line hitting, the men were keen to start well against COB’s strong side.

 

The men however were to let themselves down slightly through their serving in the first set. Despite coach Matteo’’s efforts to get the men to serve ‘Little by little’ at the COB’s weak libero, the men simply couldn’t maintain the ‘wonderwall’ of consistent serves and were hampered by four missed serves in a row. Special mention to Matteo for not ‘looking back in anger’ despite these mistakes even though he was clearly ‘crying his heart out’ on the inside. Side note – Matteo really hates Oasis. Thats a joke thats going to really ‘Live forever’. Okay I’m done now. Moving on.
Outside of the serving mistakes the Mens team should be commended for playing well against a strong team, losing the set 25-19.

 

The second set was a similar affair with Bristol allowing COB to open up an early lead that they then couldn’t overturn. The Men however fought hard throughout with Chris ‘Sharapova’ Sherfield in particular beginning to release unearthly noises as he spiked the ball down, such was the degree of effort he was putting in. Fergus also saw fit to unfurl a rather unconventional spike as he completely mistimed everything about his approach, however as the ball gracefully found the floor of the COB side there was an outpouring of love for his audacity. Meanwhile Rob finally succumbed to the sweat which plagues his volleyball career, as a perfect pass from Jonny crashed down between his hands, simultaneously causing groans from the bench as well as giving the ball an early bath. The set ended in almost farcical fashion with a call from the referee that was beyond belief. Or at least that certainly remains to be John ‘Anger counselling required’ House’s opinion, an opinion that the entire hall was made very aware of. Rocked by such a display of raw, manly passion the men lost the final point and consequently the set 25-20 and the game 2-0.

 

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Despite the loss in the second game however the men remain confident for the season ahead with the glimpses of brilliance that were on display filling all hearts and minds with joy.

 

Onwards

 

Written by: John House
Student Cup 2014 Men

Student Cup 2014 Men

Match Report

What. A. Day.

On the 16th November 10 plucky Volleyball Men and one enigmatic coach took the monumental journey down to Kettering to play in the student cup. Meeting at the ungodly hour of 5am and not returning until 11pm, the troops were to travel in one of two cars, the nippy Golf driven by Captain John ‘Lewis Hamilton’ House, where music choice was superb and leg room limited or in the lumbersome Focus of Chris ‘Nico Rosberg’ Sherfield, where the music was of the Taylor variety and conversation undoubtedly more mature.

Two cars. Two very different experiences. (Nothing to do with Volleyball, but got to set the scene).

First the Golf. The two journeys were stupendous. On the outward journey Jacob ‘Build me up Buttercup’ Webster took to the decks, ably supported by Rob ‘Grandad’ Pennifold, playing a number of outrageous hits from across the 70’s and 80’s, or in Rob’s case – His Childhood. Whilst Captain House did at times call for ‘Drivers Prerogative’ and play some astounding tunes such as the Lord of The Rings soundtrack (#inspiring), the men saw in the morning with no cares in the world. In the back of the car, Justin ‘Ebeneezer Snooze’ Hui and Duncan ‘One Man Party’ McCabe provided just the kind of controlled, seated dancing that they have become synonymous with. Despite shouts of ‘Jesus take the wheel’ when Captain House needed to remove a layer due to the rising heat of the car, a hastily eaten peanut butter sandwich and a couple of very wrong turnings, the men arrived safely and enthused. The return journey meanwhile saw a change on the decks, fresh from his journey North, Mike ‘Motown’ Wilsher provided the car with a wonderful playlist to lift spirits, whilst McCabe and Webster routinely updated the latest NFL scores at the sight of any internet signal. As for Justin, in what came as a shock to nobody, he slept.

Having been viciously chastised for not accounting for the details of the other car in previous reports, this one will be different. Whilst based on speculation and rumour, this is the events of Pippa the Focus. Whilst having the team coach in the car might suggest a serious undertone, the Focus was nothing short of a raucous early morning party. Fuelled by a seemingly endless supply of delicious blueberry muffins baked to perfection by Coach Danielle ‘Saxophone’ Simpson, the car was powered along not just by fuel, but also the dulcet tones of Taylor Swift. Whilst the music was vital, it was overshadowed by a more important conversation; with his impending departure, Tim ‘just have fun’ Ballard clearly felt the need to impart his teachings on the social dating app Tinder. Whilst before they entered the car the inhabitants were mere mortals within the dating game, they emerged new, revitalised ‘Swipe Righters’, their profiles adjusted to pin-point accuracy by Tim, with photos re-ordered, bios updated and matches flooding in. Unfortunately for one Pawel Laskowski, these moments of pure wisdom were missed, as despite adamantly stating he wouldn’t sleep, he was out before the engine was turned on.

I should probably talk about Volleyball now.

Due to the sheer number of games, the matches were only 2 sets long, with the overall points scored coming into account should both sides win one set.

The men’s first game of the day was against Oxford 1sts, a very strong side playing in a higher league. Undeterred, the men took to the court with a vivacious energy that blew away Oxford, taking a 5-0 lead before the Oxford men took a much needed timeout. Such was the arrogance of the Bristol side that Mike Wilsher at one point decided, that contrary to popular belief, hands were overrated, and thus instead blocked the Oxford hit with his face. Whilst Oxford did manage to fight back in the first set, eventually running out with 25-21 win, Bristol were undeterred. Pawel ‘Sugar Free’ Laskowski was superb, playing with the kind of relaxed self-belief that his fans know and love. Giving it their all, Bristol raised the intensity massively and walked all over their Oxford counterparts, taking a 25-14 win. Thus it was that Bristol took a win from their first game.

MOM – Tim Ballard

The Wilsher Family Meal
The Wilsher Family Meal

The break between games saw a number of obviously notable moments. Firstly Mike, supported by his dedicated parents throughout the day, took time to engage in a family meal, assumedly to discuss something Northern, like how gravy really can go with anything. Meanwhile House and Webster took great amusement in the other games occurring around the sports centre, particularly the Cambridge team, whose talisman Frank will long stay in our hearts. The team also had to referee a game, leading to a ‘flamboyance competition’ between line judges; McCabe, sticking with his critically acclaimed rigid style, taking the victory in this case, over Webster’s overtly dramatic lunge style.

The Men’s second game was against Newcastle Under Lyme, a very well drilled team. The Bristol men however were unfazed with Duncan hitting well through opposite, an effort only improved by the fact that his movember effort made him look like a 1970’s soft porn star. With the men keeping up the high intensity that the other teams just couldn’t handle they approached the end of the set with a 23-18 lead. After losing two points, Coach Simpson decided change was needed and decided to remove the emotional hub of the team that is Captain House, a decision that may have slightly annoyed that particular player. However, an immediate apology was offered when super sub Webster emphatically roofed the next Newcastle hit before then running a brilliant middle which gave the men the set at 25-20.

Danielle, I bow to your genius.

The next set was a similar affair, with Webster retaining his place on court and conducting the show like it was a BBC night at the Proms. Newcastle never stood a chance, with Justin ‘Sleeping Beaut-hui’ Hui, picking up every attack they attempted. Despite one exuberant attack resulting in Pawel ‘The Hitman’ Laskowski inadvertently punching Mike in the face, the men took the set 25-22 and thus once again – The Game.

MOM – Jacob Webster

The next break in games saw exhaustion kick in as many players grabbed their 40 winks wherever they could. As ever however, Webster and House took the chance to observe human life, noting with some displeasure the very public Tonsil Tennis played by Oxford’s number 20 ‘Du Plessis’ with what was assumedly his other half. If it wasn’t, fair play to the man. Meanwhile, Father Wilsher (Mikes Dad, not the team Chaplain), there to watch his son’s valiant efforts, came a cropper to a game on the opposing court, as the players ploughed through his chair. In completely untypical Wilsher fashion however he was able to brush it off, as the Bristol players assured a visibly concerned Michael that it was ‘merely a flesh wound’. Despite further drama in the form of Sherfield being almost taken out from atop his referee’s chair and Jacob’s head gracefully nuzzling Danielle’s rear in a moment that I feel needs no further description, the Men were ready for the next game.

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Alternative Rigid Sleeping Style
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Showing a bit of flesh – Cheeky.
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Without doubt listening to self help audio books. ‘You’re a Strong Confident Woman who does not need to smoke’

The 3rd game was against Nottingham, another team from a higher division, who also were unbeaten so far in the day. Bristol knew the importance of the game and once again gave the game everything they had. Plinio ‘Slumber Buddy’ Zanini was brilliant, spiking the ball with all his body had (which turns out is quite powerful). Chris ‘I’m not writing out your nicknames’ Sherfield took his chance at setter superbly, showing great promise for the rest of the season with the accuracy of a well-trained sniper shooting at a thread being placed through a needle. The men took the first set 25-16. At this point the energy reserves of the men began to waiver and at the start of the second set Nottingham did take the lead. Fighting back excellently through both Pawel and Grandad however Bristol secured the win by getting within 2 points of Nottingham, losing the set 25-23 but once again winning the game.

MOM – Justin Hui

The lack of energy at this point makes the next part of the day a bit of a blur. At some point we reffed a game, something mildly amusing probably happened, so for now I’ll just let your imaginations run away with themselves.

Having won their first three games, Bristol could secure a place in the next round with a final win against Liverpool. Liverpool were probably Bristol’s strongest opponents of the day, with very good hitters. The men however were undaunted and roused themselves one final time to take an early substantial lead in the first set at 19-11. With Pawel singing away merrily to himself ‘Breestol la la la’ and the men coming in for a booming ‘2-3 Bristol’ after every point, confidence was high. However as Liverpool began to find their feet it became apparent the earlier herculean efforts of the men were taking their toll. Small niggles of pain from early in the day became larger and despite their best efforts the men simply had no energy left to drag themselves back into the game, a factor perhaps epitomised by the fact that every team huddle became like taking a small bath due to the back sweat levels of certain players. (I know ewwww gross). Liverpool ran out with the first set at 25-22 and the second set 25-16.

A Visibly Shaken Tim Ballard
A Visibly Shaken Tim Ballard

What this meant unfortunately was that Bristol missed out on qualification by a mere 2 points. Whilst this is disappointing I cannot overstate the effort put in by all the men throughout the day. They gave their all in every game against opposition we would have crumbled against in previous years. They played a standard of volleyball that very high level teams would be proud of. They fought back in every set and left Kettering with absolutely nothing left to give.

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Coach Danielle Visibly Impressed by the Healthy Dinner

I speak for both myself and the coach Danielle when I say we are immensely proud of the efforts of each and every player. The men have hundreds of positives to take into the rest of the season and should be more than proud of themselves.

Player of the day, voted for by the team, goes to Tim Ballard for a superb day of setting.

Well done lads. We did Bristol proud.

 

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Legends of The Game

By John House

Student Cup – Men 10/11/13

Student Cup – Men 10/11/13

Match Report

On Sunday 10th November the Men played in the Student Cup at Ashcombe in Surrey. With many of the team unavailable, due to issues varying from vomiting to a weekend spent with Mickey and pals at Disneyland, only 7 men converged at the Students’ Union building at 5.45am. Fighting back hangovers and sleep deprivation, the bus left for the almost 3 hour journey down to the tournament. Houses_serves
Arriving at 8.30, the Men discovered they were on to play first. With final squad member Wilsher, having safely negotiated the workings of inner city London transport, joined the team, the match against Brighton began. The first set was a comfortable warm up for Bristol, with Brighton making a few unforced errors that gifted points to Bristol, allowing for a 25-13 first set win. The second set was a harder affair, with Brighton finding their feet, however thanks to fantastic ‘pancaking’ from Justin Hui and serving from the ever-reliable Pawel Laskowski, Bristol won the second set 25-18 and thus the game 2-0.

The Men’s next game was against Chichester. Fuelled by Powerade, an unearthly amount of sandwiches and some ‘steer fry’, confidence was high going into the match. Again, in the first set the Men started strongly, and with good play from James Lydall and Jacob Webster, ran out 25-17 winners. Perhaps due to some over-confidence, in the second set the Men’s focus slipped and simple errors began to be made. With all 6 players missing a serve, Chichester were gifted points and pushed the set all the way until the end. Nerves were huge, but Bristol managed to win the set 27-25 and again take a 2-0 victory.

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Despite securing 2 wins out of 2, the Men’s heads began to drop after the disappointing performance in the previous set. Perhaps sensing this, the absent (through no fault of her own) coach Danielle Simpson sent what can only be described as a text straight from the heart and mind of Shakespeare. With her words stirring the team emotionally, the men were ready for the next game against tough opponents – Cardiff.

The Men played much better in this game, with good setting from Mike Avery, and hitting from Scott Caddick. Despite this, the strength of Cardiff was too much and they took the first set 25-13. Bristol came back much stronger in the second set, with Wilsher getting out wide to help Lydall block off Cardiff’s main hitter. Cardiff again, however, showed their quality and had the game at 24-16, with 8 match points. To their credit, Bristol managed to pull back 4 points, showing great perseverance, before John House, set up perfectly for the middle hit, decided to spear it wide, giving Cardiff the set and the win 2-0.

Laskowski_hits  With Cardiff having now all but won qualification into the next round of the cup, Bristol knew their only chance stood with beating final team Falmouth. And after a two hour wait and a couple more sandwiches and energy drinks, Bristol woke up Justin Hui from his pitch-side slumber and started the final game. The Men were certainly tired and enthusiasm was low on court, as Falmouth began to punish Bristol’s mistakes, taking the first set 25-18. It was at this point that something within the team flipped and emerging back onto the court for the second set, Bristol were a new team. With Laskowski running round the court like a man desperate to relieve his bowels, and Hui keeping every ball hit into the Bristol side alive, Bristol opened up a healthy lead. Everything clicked into place in the final set, with every single player playing out of their skins to get the win for Bristol, which was finally secured with a 25-11 final set win.

Bristol thus took 2nd place overall on the day, which keeps the hopes of qualification for the next round alive. Well done to all of the boys on the day who got up so early and played so well throughout.

Player of the Day: Justin Hui

Written by John House, 1st Team Captain