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

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 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 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

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.

 

IMG_2748

 

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