It was a chilly day. The UoB Volleyball Men’s 2nd team are set for yet another game away from home.
The two-hour long bus journey was compensated by the fact that the nice coach that we were on was only less than half occupied (Yeah, we could literally all lie down and sleep and still have plenty of space left on the coach). Overall, the bus journey was peaceful and rather cosy. We eventually arrived at the sports centre of University of St Mark & St John (not Plymouth Uni unfortunately), which is in the middle of nowhere in the suburbs of Plymouth. However, it is certain that neither teams will actually enjoy home court advantage (Just imagine UoB hosting a match but we use the sports hall of UWE).
Despite the confusion of locations of the match. The sports centre of St Mark & St Johns is indeed one of the most luxurious most of us has ever seen. Proof? Their annual gym membership is £200 (yes, you see that right). So no more words on how good the venue was.
After enjoying a bit of football (with University of Brighton playing here) playing on the fields (and we were lucky enough to witness a goal. Quite unusual for a football match, huh? PS: No sarcasm here), we headed into the big sports hall to get ready for our match.
Pre-game changing room stories are always worth a mention. Here are a few noticeable quotes:
“Ralph, the (team) shirts all smell like you!”
“Anyone want some snickers?”
“Where is the toilet?” (Yep, the toilet door had no sign on it)
And a reminder for anyone who bothers to read this article: Do not use the shower in the men’s changing room in UoB gym! Reason? Just ask Florian Potier and hopefully he will deny all accusations.
After a brief warm-up led by on-court captain Rob Evans and a bit of lecturing by Captain Felipe of why he cannot be on-court captain, we finally started the game.
We started with serving from Florian. The team quickly adapted to the pace of the game and gained a 5–1 lead, which led to our opponent calling for a time-out. After the time-out, our opponent found their rhythm and started to hit and serve hard (notably from their No.8 which earned the nickname “the beast” given by one of our members) that led to us slipping away lots of points. We kept the score at a very small margin thanks to lots of mistakes made by Plymouth. However, we did not manage to close the gap of the score until then. While by the end of the the set, Captain Felipe stressed the importance of blocking hits (again!) during a short time-out. Effectively, we delivered a few impressive blocks, especially by Marcus, that led to many hitting errors by Plymouth under pressure. We hanged around for quite a while before losing the first set 20–25.
The first set turned out to be the closest set of all. As Plymouth got into their pace and better reading our positions, we got heavily damaged by some massive hits particularly from No.8 “The Beast”. Our backcourt guys had a lot of pressure during this period, often being in the right position but unable to deliver a solid pass due to the shear strength of the hits taken in. We managed to stop the skid of scores by forcing our opponents to make mistakes. Honourable mention for Kenji for wonderfully pushing one ball to the dead corner! Nevertheless, the score margin could not narrowed and we lost the second set 15–25.
The offence by Plymouth came even stronger in the third set. With their hitters somehow finding more ways to get past our blocks, our backcourt players kept on enduring those massive hits. Our covering saw some improvements though, but this cannot prove useful while facing one after another flat jump serves by our opponents. Many points were lost in an easy fashion, while scoring ourselves asked us to be in the best form. Under one after another heavy jump serves from Plymouth, we came to a 13–25 third set loss.
After the game, we had some friendly hits with Plymouth with mixed up teams from both unis. Since it was a friendly session, we had plenty of fun and some new trials of positions (a peek to the future maybe). Marcus volunteered to become the libero at the backcourt whilst choosing to set while being front court. The confusion on his face during playing was an indicator that he’d better stick to hitting instead! Whereas captain Felipe had a massive one-man block against a huge hit from the opposite side. Perhaps we should experiment putting him as the middle guy on the next training session, hmm. Overall, the after session was great fun (especially for Felipe as he was chatting up the ref called Katie!) and draws a nice conclusion for our road trip.
Player of the Match: Marcus Clifford
Written by: Chan Sheng