It has been a very tiring but unforgettable weekend for the Volleyball Club. The Men’s 1st and the Women’s 1st travelled to Ashcombe to take part in the preliminary rounds of Volleyball England National Indoor Student Cup. This was an incredible opportunity for our Bears to measure their strength with teams coming from all over the South of England and London, many of which were 1st or Premier Division teams, well above the 2nd Division where our Bears usually play in.
On Saturday, our Bears walked into the National Volleyball Centre in Ashcombe School slightly late, but they immediately turned the freezing hall into their cave. The day started in the best way we could have hoped. With remarkable team spirit, resilience and determination our boys took a 2-0 revenge on Chichester 1st, against whom they had lost away the previous week. Despite Chichester being very loud and consistent, our bench was even louder, and our team fought hard until they won the first set 25-23 with a very narrow margin. After then, the mental pressure that the boys put on the opposition did the rest, and the second set was easily won 25-16.
This great start was then followed by an incredible and unexpected 2-0 win against Brighton, a 1st Division team armed with a Lithuanian powerhouse. But our Bears did not let the height of the opposition discourage them, and with extraordinary intensity they took two sets, with the scores of 25-17 and 25-19. However, in the early afternoon UCL entered our cave armed with its Premier League strength and a giant of a man. Despite battling hard and getting very close to a win in the first set (23-25), in the second set our boys had to surrender limiting the damage and closing 18-25.
Finally, in the last few hours our Bears had to face the familiar faces of Sussex, coming from our same division. The contest between the two teams was very balanced, and it was very difficult to smash the ball down. Despite aching muscles and biting tiredness, our boys fought point by point with highs and lows in a never-ending battle. However, the effort in the end paid off, and our Men’s 1st drove back home with a 2-0 win in their pocket and a very good chance to access the finals at UEL in February.
On Sunday, after the amazing performance of the boys, the time had come for our Women’s 1st to get into the game as well. Same Cup. Same place.
The day was long, the matches all challenging, but the team showed great cohesiveness, stuck together for the whole day giving their best. As our Men’s 1st, our ladies won three out of four matches, picking up the second place in their round and winning a high chance of qualifying to the finals. They started off with a tough battle against Surrey 1st, a first division team who, however, did not intimidate them. Indeed the final score was 2-0 for our lady-Bears.
After Surrey,it was time for them to take revenge on Westminster, against whom they had lost the previous week. The score couldn’t be more pleasant: 2-0 for us, 25-20 in the first set and 25-22 in the second.
Mistakenly thinking that the worst was over, they were caught in trap by the unexpected strength of Southampton Solent, an absolutely unknown team who however remained undefeated at the end of the day and took the first place in the round. After a respectable 20-25 in the first set, our ladies had to surrender 13-25 in the second.
However, such a defeat left no room for discouragement. Our lady-Bears kept pushing and finally smashed FXU 2-0, winning the last set with an insane score of 25-9.
Congratulations go to both teams for playing amazingly, for the great perseverance and determination they showed, and for the support they showed for each other even in difficult moments. Well done everybody!
Let’s – hopefully – go to the finals, Bears!