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

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

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

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

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 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.

bristol
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

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

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

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

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

Mens 1sts vs Bath 1sts (21/10/2015)

Mens 1sts vs Bath 1sts (21/10/2015)

On the 21st October the Mens 1st got their BUCS season underway with a match against Bath 1st team, who were the current league leaders. I realise given that only one game had been played up until that point that statement is largely redundant, but still, it adds to the hype we can generate around the game. Rather like the fall of the Tsarist regime of Russia however, all tyrannies must come to an end and Bristol were confident they had revolutionaries in their ranks. With such imagery making Mike ‘The Monarchy is the only Drug I need’ Wilsher salivate at the mouth, the men arrived early, or late, in some cases for a brisk warm up.

As has been the case with many of the warm ups delivered by captain Christopher ‘Cream of Mushroom’ Sherfield however, the assigned stretches and tasks not only warmed up some members of the team but wore them down to within an inch of their lives. The sight of 11 sweaty panting men, plus Chris, must have been quite the intimidating imagery for the arriving Bath squad.

With Coach Matteo absent, mother duties fell to captain Sherfield who marshalled the side with great aplomb. Cracking word aplomb. Really rolls off the tongue. Bristol began the set well opening up a lead through the hitting of Craig ‘Whitney Houston dressed by Hugo Boss’ Tavares-McKoy, a man who’s soft voice and calming demeanour has become as much a vital feature of the mens team as Michael ‘Give me 5 minutes’ Wilshers pre-match use of the toilet facilities. Bristol soon began to let themselves down in the serve however, with 8 faults coming from the Bristol side. Incidentally every single one of the faults saw the ball fly long out of the Bath side, a clear side-effect of the intense and vicious gym regime each one of the players clearly puts themselves through. Water Polo watch out, the Mens 1sts will soon be strolling round in dressing gowns at SCORE. After a well timed break was called the men were able to regroup however, and in outrageous scenes, the likes of which have rarely been seen in a Bristol University Volleyball match, didn’t lose their marbles toward the end of a set, instead closing it out with 4 straight points taking a 25-21 first set win.

The second set began with the introduction of Fergus ‘Time Lord’ Shaw and Jacob ‘Ebeneezer Scrooge 24/7’ Webster to the Bristol side. Despite apparently busting his already dodgy tennis knee after only two points, as well as battling the ever growing fear of the state of his hamstrings, which as we all know, could ‘Ping at any moment’, Webster slotted into the Bristol side with the ease of a hot knife through some Sainsburys own brand butter, blocking and hitting with the kind of self assured confidence and calm that he has never been synonymous with. Shaw meanwhile was everywhere on court at once, covering the blocks brilliantly and ensuring Bristol kept the ball alive. Such performances however were overshadowed by the dominance of Sherfield who, fuelled no doubt by his daily pack of bacon, quickly became the bane of the Bath side, who’s frustration at his repeated success was evident for all to see. Indeed, with the rest of the side becoming mere spectators to the combo of Rob ‘Sweaty Betty’ Pennifold and Captain Sherfield, Bristol were able to dominate the set and take a 25-17 win.

The third set saw a shake up on court with Captain Sherfield enacting more changes than a poorly regulated phone playing the pre-drinks playlist. Bristol, perhaps feeling overconfident, allowed a few errors to creep into their game which in true Bristol fashion then became an unstoppable rolling maul which essentially gifted Bath the set victory. Serving was once again at fault, with players from all over the world smashing the ball out of the court.

Spurred on by the dread of a fifth set, and the fact that John ‘Blind Mans Bluff’ House and Michael ‘Big Mike’ Wilsher needed to go to Cabot before the nights festivities, the Men started the fourth set with a steely determination. Craig ‘Manners maketh man’ Tavares-McKoy and Jonny ‘Sir Francis Drake’ Childs both opened up their shoulders to hit majestically whilst the now ever reliable Chris ‘Ministrone’ Sherfield continued his mission to annoy the hell out of the Bath team with his repeated success down the line. At 22-21 to Bristol the set was finely poised, and as Bristol rifled the point home through John ‘Stevie Wonder’ House there was much joy. Such joy however was pierced by the shrill blast of the whistle from the ref as the Bath players protested heartily over some confusion. With the point being replayed, the annoyance levels of House reached their now regular high levels. Perhaps noticing the riled nature of his middle, Rob ‘Early Bath’ Pennifold fed him two consecutively delicious sets that were smashed down into the Bath side. With those two points in the bag and House’s celebrations reaching slightly awkward levels (many raised eyebrows were seen on the balcony), Bristol had the match point. Having spent the entire game hitting superbly it was thus appropriate that the game finished with the libero Justin ‘Textbook Technique’ Hui gently popping a ball back onto the Bath side that gracefully fell into the gap he had quite obviously lined up.

Thus Bristol took the final set 25-21 and the game 3-1. As Captain Sherfield performed a weird jumping shaking celebration, relief was clear for all to see on the faces of all involved.

Player of the Match: Christopher Sherfield

One game in. One win. The men remain unbeaten in BUCS for 19 months. Not too shabby eh.

Our thanks to Lorena Balan and Karoline Dronnen for their top notch refereeing.

Next up for the men in BUCS are local rivals UWE. Haven’t lost to them in 4 years. Won’t start now.
1pm Wednesday, Tyndall Avenue Sports Centre. Be there.

Onwards.

Written by: John House

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