Friday June 23
It's time to put the season to bed. Although our mixed training sessions will continue until July 18, this weekend sees the final big event of the 2016/17 season.
As a reminder, our end of season Awards Dinner takes place this Saturday (June 24) at The Globe Inn on Lower Gungate in the centre of Tamworth. We'll aim to start the presentations around 19:00 so feel free to start making your way to the pub from 18:30 onwards.
I have touched on this previously but for those of you hadn't heard, this Saturday is also a chance to commemorate our club's 35th birthday. I'm hoping that we're going to be joined by a few older faces from both the club's recent and more distant past. No doubt there will be stories to be exchanged and glasses to be raised in celebration.
It looks like we could have around 60 people turning up so it could get a bit cosy in the function room. Don't worry; there's decent air con in there though...! For those of you who haven't yet paid Kara for your ticket, please make sure you do so when you arrive and before the drinks start flowing!
I look forward to seeing you all there. Let's celebrate 35 years of a wonderful community sports club.
Friday June 9
Deflating. There's no other word for it. The curtain finally came down on another season when Ladies 1 lost 3-1 to Warwick Riga in last Saturday's Cup Final.
This was not the ladies at their all-conquering regional best; far from it. Yes, the opposition was stronger than on the two previous occasions when we'd beaten them in the league but we never really showed what we are capable of.
Blown away in the 1st set, the game looked to be turned around in the 2nd when an epic battling performance resulted in a 29-27 Spartans win. But we couldn't quite maintain that momentum as the next two sets simply drifted away from us.
It's not the way anyone wanted to finish - or to mark Camilla's last appearance for the team - but let's just have a think about what we HAVE achieved. One league championship, one 2nd place finish, a Cup runner-up, a Cup semi-final and a Plate semi-final. All of our teams look likely to have achieved top three finishes.
As I said at our AGM, it's a sign of how far our expectations have risen. Not long ago, most seasons began with calculations on how many matches we needed to avoid relegation. You lot have been responsible for changing that mindset. So, let's not beat ourselves up. Let's reflect on yet another awesome job.
In other news, last Tuesday's AGM proved that voting majorities can be achieved as your whole committee was re-elected en masse and with Marta elevated to the committee in her Club Welfare Officer.
Welfare and safeguarding is something you'll no doubt hear a lot about next season - as this season has taught us a thing or two! For now though, enjoy a few more weeks of all-club mixed training, starting this Tuesday at Wilnecote from 20:00. See you there....
Friday June 2
We're almost done. After over 60 matches, it all comes down to one last push for glory.
Ladies 1 will take on Warwick Riga on Saturday in the Cup Final, looking to cement an historic local league and cup double.
They may be our most successful team in recent memory but it's been ten years since they last lifted the Cup. Since that last win in 2007, they've been league champions an amazing four times. While we wouldn't trade any one of those league titles, it nevertheless feels like there's something missing from the trophy cabinet.
By about noon in Saturday, we'll know whether that gap has been filled. So, if you're free on Saturday, get down to Dudley Evolve for 10am and help cheer the ladies over the line.
After that, it will be time to sit down and take stock of the season just gone - at our club AGM on Tuesday. This will take place at 20:00 in the music room at Wilnecote.
Now, I know that two hour meetings are not many people's idea of fun. But if you want to know how your fees are being spent, what people think about the coaching on offer at the club or what we've got planned for the future, you should come along. It's a bit like failing to vote; if you don't get involved and have your say, you can't really complain later in the year.
So, do please come along. I might even buy a few bags of pork scratchings in the pub afterwards to say thanks...
In other news, I know there's a ladies' social outing this Sunday, where the group will be saying farewell to Flavia, Federica and Camilla. I'd like to add my best wishes and to thank them for their efforts this season and for being a constantly smiley presence on court.
They've all played their part this year but I must give particular credit to Camilla who has been consistently outstanding for both Ladies 1 and the NVL Ladies across a whopping 32 games this season. For someone so young, she's quite some player.
Needless to say, our guest list for the end of season awards dinner is now looking pretty crowded (close on 60 people now, I think). If you haven't yet booked your ticket, you're running out of time.
And finally, if you haven't yet completed Bob's coaching survey, please do it before the AGM next week. This is your chance to tell us (anonymously!) what you really think to all of us coaches! Don't miss out...
Friday May 19
No defeat is ever easy to stomach but semi-final defeats are the worst of all. It's the finality of it. With most league matches, there's a shot at revenge the following week. Not so with knockout action - as Men 2 found out on Tuesday.
One minute you're trading blows with a top half Div 2 side and more than holding your own. Before you know it though, you're down the pub, the season's over and you're passing round the pork scratchings and wondering "what if"....
At the end of the second set, Men 2 were daring to dream. They didn't just win that set; they dismantled a handy Cleobury side, winning by a whopping 14 points. It was as good as anything I've seen from that team this season.
Sadly, they couldn't maintain those levels and rather faded away in the next two sets. I guess that's the difference between Divisions 2 and 3 laid bare. Still, if the spirit of that second set can be maintained next season, then the next Division 3 campaign should hold no fears for us.
So, that's two down, one to go. If Ladies 1 are going to have any company at Finals Day, it will have to come from Men 1. They travel to play Wombourne at 13:00 on Sunday (May 21), hoping to extend their season by one more game.
With Men 1 otherwise occupied on Sunday - and with Men 2 still passing round the pork scratchings - there will be no men's training this Sunday. There will however be ladies' training at Rawlett from 17:30.
That will be our last Sunday training session at Rawlett this season. It will be Tuesdays only after that, starting with an all-club mixed training session at Wilnecote next Tuesday (May 23) from 20:00.
In other news, you should all have received an email from Bob this week, containing a link to this year's coaching survey. For those who haven't done this before, this is your chance to tell us what you think about the coaching at the club this season. It's really important to do this - especially in a year when we've had so many new players come to the club.
Bob will report back on the results - and what we're going to do about them - at the AGM on June 6. So do please take the time to fill in the survey; your coaches need to know how they're doing.
In other news, tickets for the end-of-season dinner are now flying off the shelves. If you haven't got yours yet, don't delay - give Kara your hard-earned cash now!
We now know that Ladies 1 will be up against Warwick Riga in the Cup Final after Riga dispatched Hereford 3-0 in their semi-final this week. And as you might have seen on the Whatsapp thread earlier this week, the men have now been accepted into the NVL and will play in Div 3 Central next season.
That's all for now folks; keep your eyes peeled for updates from the semi-final this Sunday,
Friday May 12
With our league campaigns already becoming a distant memory, it's time to really focus on the Cup action. We went into this week with three possible routes to Finals Day on June 3. Last night, the first of those was confirmed as Ladies 1, the Div 1 champs, knocked out Telford, the NVL Div 3 champs, in a battling 3-1 performance.
I say "battling" because this was not quite Ladies 1 at their fluent best. After playing so many games during February and March, perhaps the fact that they were able to enjoy a whole 18 day break from playing had left them a little rusty. Nevertheless, they did what was required, surging into a 2-0 lead, taking a bit of a slap in the 3rd set but then establishing such a big lead in the 4th that when Telford's comeback began, they had too much to do.
Our ladies might be the local champs but it's worth remembering quite how decent a side Telford are. The ladies have played them five times this season and only won twice. Not many sides can claim that sort of record against us. So, the ladies now march onwards to Finals Day in Dudley where they will face either Hereford or league runners-up Warwick Riga - in what will be game #35 of the season for those who double up regionally and in the NVL.
Next up, and looking to also book their ticket to Dudley (doesn't that sound exotic?!), are Men 2. They play host to Cleobury in the Plate semi-final at Wilnecote on Tuesday (May 16). Cleobury finished fourth in Div 2 with a 7-7 record so this will be a very big test for Men 2, especially as they can't call on the new-found talents of Cristian, Tej or Louis, who all arrived at the club just too late to be eligible. They've still got enough firepower to go and give Cleobury a hell of a game though.
Make sure you come on down and make some noise. Warm-up starts at 20:00. Brigade 2 is looking after this one - although a neutral ref will be taking the stand (as is the case with all semifinals). Once that one is done and dusted, our third semi-final takes place the following Sunday when Men 1 travel to take on Wombourne.
Our league programme came to a close last week when Ladies 2 lost 3-0 at home to Redhill. I blame myself. A couple of weeks ago, I pointed out how Ladies 2 had stealthily crept into the promotion places. They've lost all three matches since then. My bad.
There are still a lot of matches to be played in Div 2 and our ladies still sit 2nd, currently. However, that place will come under increasing threat as the other teams finally get round to playing their matches. Before we get too downbeat though, let's remember that the team's target was to win three matches this season. They've ended up winning eight - and knocked a Div 1 team out of the Cup. Well played ladies.
Looking across the league tables, Ladies 2 will likely finish anywhere from 2nd to 4th. We know where Ladies 1 have finished. Once the final Men 1 result is uploaded, they'll finish 2nd in Div 1. As for Men 2, they'll finish 3rd but that doesn't look good enough for a promotion play-off. They've had the misfortune of being in a strong Div 3 this season, with two teams who are just a bit too good for this division.
With so much still to play for, there's training as normal this Sunday (May 14) at Rawlett with the women at 17:30, followed by the men at 19:30. And our juniors are back up and running on Tuesday evenings now, thanks to CIndy's efforts in securing them a new home at Landau Forte until the end of the school year.
In other news, we need to start collecting in all the various end-of-season awards. If you won an award last year, please hand back the large trophy to Malcolm over the next week or two.
You'll have also seen that Cindy is appealing for another couple of men for the Sandwell tournament on July 1. If some more men do come forward, we can enter two mixed teams in what looks certain to be a decent competition.
And finally, I can't believe I didn't mention this at the time but congratulations to Ewan, Jacob and Clara on all being selected for their West Midlands junior squads. The three now head to the Inter-Regional Championships at the end of the month. I'm sure they'll do us proud.
Friday May 5
In the end, even the mighty Sky Sports advertising machine may have struggled to get too many people tuning in to our very own Spartans Super Sunday.
The much vaunted triple-header at Nuneaton turned out to be as exciting as a local council election. From the moment the in-form Ladies 2 were blown away in their opening set, en route to a 3-0 defeat (serves me right for bigging them up in last week's update!), something didn't seem right.
When the Men 2 game was turned into a glorified training session, courtesy of Nuneaton not having enough players, that was just deflating. And, let's be honest, the ensuing Men 1 victory, while a relief after last Tuesday's horror defeat, had a definite end-of-season feel about it. When Ladies 2 then went down to another 3-0 defeat at BCU Tigers on Wednesday, it rounded off what was a somewhat forgettable week.
Still, it always pay to look on the bright side - so let's not forget that our league positions still look great and that this week also saw debuts for Louis and Carly as our squad numbers continue to grow. From what I can tell, they both enjoyed their first taste of Spartans action.
It takes you about 30 seconds to realise that Louis has played a fair bit before; it was never in doubt that he'd slot straight in and make a difference to Men 1. The flip side of that coin is that Carly had never played before she signed up to Kara's Volley 101 course earlier this year. Yet there she was with Ladies 2 this week, sporting her Spartans colours just as deservedly as Louis. This is what it means to be an inclusive club; something we will not forget as we embark on our next NVL venture later this year.
Looking ahead, Ladies 2 play their final game of the season thus Sunday (May 7) when they play Redhill at Rawlett at 17:30. A rare mix-up over reffing brigades means we're looking for volunteers to help officiate this one so please step forward if you can. Men's training will follow at 19:30.
Tuesday (May 9) sees another mixed all-club training session at Wilnecote from 20:00. After that, we head into our trio of knockout semi-finals when Ladies 1 travel to play Telford at 19:15. Fingers crossed their season still has one more match to run after that.
That's all for now folks. One more push - let's not let the season fizzle out now!
Friday April 28
Every sports fan knows it. It's the hope that kills you.
Men 1 had their hopes of a first league title in 19 years all but extinguished after a tepid display on Tuesday. Let's be honest; none of us really want to discuss that 3-0 defeat to Redhill. Suffice to say that we would have struggled to beat many Div 1 teams, let alone the reigning champs, when passing as badly as we did.
Worse still, the day started with the (fake) news that Redhill had lost the night before. That meant a win would have clinched the league for us. It turned out they hadn't lost at all. And then we fluffed our lines anyway. We could still win the league if we win our final game and Redhilll lose both of theirs but I don't think many of us are banking on that happening. Give it a few more days and then the idea of finishing 2nd (again) in a very competitive division might not seem so bad.
So let's look forward and crank it up for the forthcoming Spartans Super Sunday. I've never known a day like this before - with three of our teams all in action at the same venue, one after another. Ladies 2 get the day started at Nuneaton. Their warm-up starts at 15:00, followed by Men 2at 17:00 and Men 1 at 19:00.
Ladies 2 remind me of the racehorse who stealthily creep up on the rails right at the end. While everyone's looking elsewhere, they steal a march on the pack and land a big surprise. The Ladies 2 seasonal objective of winning more than three games looks a bit silly now that they've won 8 of 11. Whisper it quietly but they're in serious danger of finishing in the top two. Three more games stand between them and promotion to the top division. Success and failure both still beckon.
Men 2 are not without a chance either but their fate lies in other teams' hands. All they can do is win their own game - and they'll have every chance, bearing in mind quite how strong their hitting line-up looks. Around the time Men 2 are getting started, Ladies 1 will be training back at a rather lonely Rawlett at 17:30. They finished their season in fine style last week, dismantling Hereford 3-0. Yes, Hereford lost their setter early in the match but a 25-7 first set win tells you quite how one-sided our ladies made this match. They finish top with a 12-2 record and set their sights on a Cup final appearance.
Talking of which, it looks like the Ladies 1 Cup semi-final will be at Telford on May 11. Men 2 are set to host Cleobury on May 16 while Men 1 will travel to Wombourne on May 21.
On Tuesday (May 2), we'll have an all-club mixed training session at Wilnecote from 20:00. Twenty-four hours later (Wednesday, May 3), Ladies 2 will play their penultimate match of the season when they travel to BCU Tigers for a 19:30 warm-up.
In other news, Cindy has asked me to mention that we're looking a bit short of men for the Sandwell tournament on July 1. So, if you fancy playing a decent tournament that's right on your doorstep, let Cindy know. And as for the Annual Awards Dinner on June 24, tickets are now being snapped up - so get your orders in soon.
And if you see a Men 1 player when you're out and about, go easy on him; he's probably still angry.
Friday April 21
Let's do this then. The Easter eggs have been eaten (I hope) and the alcoholic detox has begun (maybe). On the volleyball front, the final few hurdles beckon for all our teams - but it's Men 1 who go into battle first.
On Tuesday, they'll be hosting the reigning Div 1 champs, Redhill, knowing that a win is essential to retain any chance of winning the league for the first time in almost two decades.
Let's not forget that the men inflicted a 3-0 defeat on Redhill earlier this season. The champions were taken to five sets by struggling Nuneaton earlier this week and have to play at Wolves Uni just 24 hours before coming across to Wilnecote.
A win for us on Tuesday, followed by a win at Nuneaton the following Sunday, will put all the pressure on Redhill to win their remaining fixtures and finish with a better set difference than us.
First things first though; we need all three points on Tuesday. Warm-up is at Wilnecote at 20:00 and Brigade 1 will take charge of this one. If you're not reffing, do please come on down and make some noise. This game could be huge.
Before then, Ladies 1 do bring the curtain down on their successful league campaign when they host Hereford at Rawlett at 17:30. Although the match itself is a dead rubber, the ladies nevertheless have one eye on their Cup semi-final which will follow next month.
Brigade 2 takes charge of the ladies' game. Men's training will follow afterwards. I'm afraid there isn't any training for Ladies 2 - as we simply couldn't countenance running a mixed session ahead of the crucial Men 1 game on Tuesday.
In a recent club update, I mentioned the Club Awards Dinner which will take place on June 24. What I didn't mention was that we'll also be celebrating our club's 35th anniversary. We're in the process of inviting some old faces from the club's history - which is why the evening could be even busier than usual. Therefore get your ticket orders in to Kara asap. Tickets will cost £12 for adults and £6 for juniors.
That's all for now. Do please come on down on Tuesday and lend the men your support. A first league title since 1998 is now a possibility. Make sure you're part of it!
Friday April 14
Just a short update from me as we head into the (much-needed) Easter break. It seems like we've hardly drawn breath for the past six or seven weeks, thanks to an unbelievably heavy fixture schedule. Now we have time to pause (briefly), it's worth reflecting on quite how well all our teams are doing and how much we still have to play for.
Have we ever been in a situation previously where we were still in the running for so many trophies or promotions this late in the season? I don't think so. Fingers crossed that we can seize most, if not all, of the opportunities which now await us after Easter.
In the end, there was just the one match this week as Ladies 1 lost 3-1 at home to Cleobury. This was a rare defeat for our most successful side so far this season but one that really didn't matter. Their work in the league is already done. This looked like a tired performance with too many players not at the levels they've been at all season. Still, better to lose now - with the championship wrapped up - than when it really matters. The Cup semi-final is all that matters to this group now.
Talking of knock-outs, the ladies know that Telford await (away) in the Cup semi-final. Men 1 will be travelling to Wombourne for their semi-final while Men 2 will host either Rugby 1 or Cleobury in their Plate semi-final. No dates for these matches are yet confirmed but they'll likely be in May.
Clearly there's no training this Sunday. No matches have been scheduled for next week either, meaning there will be a rare all-club mixed training session on Tuesday at Wilnecote from 20:00.
Malcolm mentioned last week that all the Cup and Plate Finals will be played on Saturday June 3. The venue for this will be Dudley Evolve, where Wombourne play.
Also, with regard to the Club Awards Dinner on June 24, Kara is now taking bookings for that. Tickets will again be £12 for adults and £6 for juniors. Family and friends are obviously more than welcome to come along too - but do please get your ticket requests in early as we're expecting it to be busy.
For now though, have a great Easter break everyone. You've earned it.
Friday April 7
Simon is away trying to make a few quid at Aintree this weekend so it's fallen to me to pen the club update.
We had a busy day last Sunday with 3 of our 4 regional teams in action. Men 1 had an early start with a 10am warm up away to Birmingham Met. The early start didn't seem to affect our men though who breezed past the opposition 3-0 in just over an hour. This result keeps the Men's title hopes alive.
Ladies 1 were up next, away at Wombourne. A good team effort saw the Div 1 Champions win 3-0 but scores of 25-22, 25-20 and 28-26 shows that this was quite a close game.
Ladies 2 continued the winning streak with a very good 3-1 win away at Birmingham Met. The fact the squad contained a bare 6 players with Flavia and Anna both playing their first full game makes this win even more impressive.
Men 2 had to wait until Tuesday night to get their taste of competitive volleyball this week. This was potentially a promotion deciding game against an unbeaten Rugby side. A narrow defeat in set 1 saw the guys step up their game in sets 2 and 3 with new club member Christian making his rather impressive debut.
2-1 up going into set 4, everyone's money was on a 3-1 win but it wasn't to be. A terrible start saw us 8-1 down and we never recovered. With set 4 gone before it really started, everything was riding on set 5. A spirited fight back following another poor start wasn't enough and the final set was lost by 4 points.
Men 2 have one final league game left and a 3rd place league finish could still earn a place in the promotion play offs. I guess we'll just have to wait and see...
Looking ahead to the coming week, Ladies 2 play away vs BCU on Sunday 9th. Warm up is a shockingly early 9am.
Ladies 1 are then in action vs Cleobury on Tuesday night, 8pm warm up at Wilnecote. Brigade 3 are reffing this one.
Training on Sunday 9th is the usual times.
Just a quick note about Cup Finals day. This year it's Saturday 3rd June, time and location TBC. I don't want to jinx any of our teams still left in the Cup and Plate competitions, but if they do make the final, it will be on the 3rd June so it might be a good idea to keep your diary clear.
Also remember the club AGM is June 6th and the club Awards Dinner is June 24th. Hopefully there will be a fair amount of silverware on show...
Friday March 31
Drama. I think it's crucial to any sense of achievement. Winning is always nice. Winning when it's a struggle and you've battled all the way; that's better still.
I am very, very fortunate to have coached Ladies 1 to four league championships now (2008, 2011, 2015, 2017). I've seen some wonderful players turn out for us. But I've never seen a better, more balanced group of players than this one. It's fitting therefore that this was the first time I've seen our team clinch the title on court, not as a result of someone else's result. It's all about the drama - and this lot deserved it.
The 2015 team, our very own Invincibles, swept all before them. They didn't lose a match. If we're honest, we all knew at Christmas that they would likely win the league. Yet that wonderful team found out they'd won the league at training one night when news filtered through that another team had forfeited a match. They were denied their moment.
Victory was not a foregone conclusion for the 2017 vintage. If they had lost to Warwick Riga on Tuesday, they would have had to have won two of their remaining three fixtures to be sure of the league title. But they didn't let that happen, blowing away their nearest rivals with a flawless performance when they simply went through the gears to win 3-0; a relentless force in action.
By the end, even the drama of winning it on court was diminished somewhat as Riga capitulated 25-10 in the final set. The first set was tight though (25-23); this looked like it would be a nervy night. But Riga were ground down by clever attacking, stout defence and unerring serving.
Camilla won the MVP but this was always a team effort. At the start of the season, Hanna hadn't even broken into the team and Alice was thought of as a libero, not an outside. Barbara had no idea she was about to become an exceptional middle and Betty hadn't played for five years.
Come January, we'd lost Beni, Emma and Chiara, Marta was injured, Max was recovering, Kat was still playing for Nuneaton (talk about a well-timed transfer!) and Vicky hadn't long given birth (everyone still thinks it's a lie...). Kara was learning how to become an opposite and Clara was proving that liberos aren't just weak players being given a game out of sympathy. When you remember that Sharon and Federica both made an appearance as well, we used a staggering 16 players this season for Ladies 1. To nevertheless win the league with three games to spare is a remarkably dramatic result.
When you bear in mind how many other ladies there are at this club right now, all performing brilliantly in Ladies 2, we have never been in such a position of strength. Be very proud of what we have!
The men aren't too shabby either. Men 2 last night made it through to the Plate semi-final with a bum-clenchingly tight 3-2 victory over Div 2 strugglers Tettenhall. We now have three teams in this year's Cup and Plate semis and Ladies 2 only missed out because they had the misfortune to come up against Ladies 1!
Tettenhall were only three places above Men 2 on the league ladder - but make no mistake, this was a hugely commendable victory for a squad weakened by a few notable absences. Evidently, Coach Seb learned a thing or two from his recent Level 2 course. Fingers crossed for a favourable semi-final draw!
There were two other fixtures this week but they were dead rubbers as the NVL Ladies lost a five set thriller to Ipswich before swatting away Peterborough 3-0. The net result is that they finish third in Div 3 Central, following up last year's 2nd place finish. Two years after starting from scratch, the biggest compliment we can pay them is to say that they are an established force in that division.
Looking ahead, we have a very busy Sunday looming. Men 1 are up first, travelling to play at Birmingham Met at 10:00 (!!), knowing that a win is essential to keep their league title charge alive.
After that, the Div 1 champions, Ladies 1, travel to play at Wombourne at 13:00. It's then back over to Birmingham Met for the Ladies 2 match at 16:00. There will be training back at Rawlett for the Men 2 players at 19:30.
On Tuesday (Apr 4), there's a massive Div 3 promotion showdown at Wilnecote as Men 2 take on Rugby 2. Warm-up commences at 20:00 with Brigade 1 in charge of the whistles and flags.
Enough already. One trophy bagged; let's go get some more.
Friday March 24
Whenever we get close to winning a competition, it’s typically April, May or even June before we start talking about needing just one more result to clinch it.
Yet Ladies 1 now stand just one win away from clinching the Division 1 championship – and all before the end of March!
Next Tuesday (Mar 28), they will play their nearest challengers, Warwick Riga, at home, knowing that a win will see them regain their title, with three matches to spare. If ever there was a night to come on down and watch a game, this is it!!
Looking back, Men 2 got last week off to a strong start with a 3-1 win at West Mids Fire. This wasn’t exactly an enjoyable experience though as their hosts fielded four ladies in their line-up. They are permitted to do this in Div 3 but let’s just say it’s not quite what our men signed up for.
As Men 1 would discover a few days later, playing a team below your standard often results in a deflating and sub-par performance.
If Men 2 were surprised to drop a set last Friday, Men 1 were just as exasperated when they did the same on Tuesday before seeing off Tern Hill Fivers 3-1. They now progress to the Cup semi-final but the less said about this frustrating performance, the better.
The NVL Ladies’ marathon run of spring fixtures continued on Sunday with a 3-0 defeat to Loughborough which saw the students advance to the top of the league. Their hitting power was just a bit too much to handle at times yet the ladies put up some admirable resistance and were unlucky not to at least nick a set.
Back at Rawlett, there was no luck required as Ladies 2 blew Tettenhall away 3-0, conceding just eight points in winning the 2nd set. With supposedly fancied teams around them now dropping points, the ladies are hitting form at the right time – and have points on the board.
This is real nosebleed territory now as I can’t recall the ladies being so highly ranked this late in the season before. Regardless of where this journey now ends, they’ve put in some magnificent performances just to get to where they are now.
In the final match of the week, the NVL Ladies trekked over to Telford last night for a rearranged fixture. Telford had only lost once all season and they now look almost nailed on to win promotion to Div 2 after they triumphed 3-0. Our ladies got close in the 1st and 3rd sets but overall, this looked like a slightly weary, leggy effort.
Looking ahead, the NVL Ladies play their final two matches of the regular season this Sunday (Mar 26) at Wilnecote. Ipswich Ladies are the first opponents at 10:30, followed by Peterborough at 14:30. There will be training for the non-NVL ladies at Rawlett at 17:30, followed by men’s training at 19:30.
On Tuesday, it’s the afore-mentioned Ladies 1 v Riga game at Wilnecote. Brigade 2 are in charge of this one and warm-up starts at 20:00.
We then finish up with a Men’s Plate quarter-final on Thursday (Mar 30) when Men 2 travel to play at Tettenhall, who currently sit bottom of Div 2 without a win to their name.
Victory for the men would mean that we’ll have three teams through to various semi-finals. Oh – and ALL of our teams in the top three of their various divisions. All of a sudden, turning out to officiate doesn’t seem such a chore…
Friday March 17
Two wins from two this week have kept our regional first teams firmly in the hunt for silverware as the season enters the final straight.
The front-running Ladies 1 managed to see off a spirited challenge from Birmingham Met on Sunday, winning it right on the line by the narrowest of margins; 16-14 in the fifth.
Men 1 had a more straightforward time of it on Tuesday as they saw off Wombourne 3-0 in a top of the league heavyweight clash. Once the men got into their running, they had enough gas in the tank to pull clear, thereby navigating one of the trickier remaining Div 1 hurdles.
Form guide followers may have expected our ladies to have had no problem dispatching bottom of the table Birmingham Mets yet a resolute defensive display once again frustrated the high fliers. This was the second time this season that the Sutton-based team had got within an inch of overturning the favourites but they again came up short.
At this stage of the season, no-one really cares how the points are earned. All that matters is that the ladies have again nosed in front of Warwick Riga at the head of the field. Four matches remain for both teams, including a crunch showdown at Wilnecote at the end of this month.
Men 1 are sitting pretty in Div 1 with eight wins from 11 after their latest victory. However, they’re still going to need some luck in running if they’re to take the title. A win over Redhill next month will be essential to maintain those title hopes but even then, they’ll need the reigning champs to stumble and drop points elsewhere.
For now though, our focus shifts elsewhere. Tonight, Men 2 head to Newman University, where they’ll hope to overcome (extinguish?) West Mids Fire. If they come away with all three points, they’ll be into the top two in Division 3 and able to exert a degree of pressure on the market principles, Tern Hill and Rugby.
On Sunday (March 19), Ladies 2 will be in action at home in what’s shaping up to be a cracker of a contest against top of the table Tettenhall. The ladies have made stealthy progress from the middle of the field and now stand poised to overtake their Wolverhampton finals at the top should they take all three points. Early leaders Birmingham Mets 2 have begun to slip away but the dark horse is Redhill who have only played four matches (but are undefeated) and could yet be produced for a devastating late charge.
The ladies take to the court at Rawlett to warm up at 17:30 under the watchful eye of Brigade 3. Men’s training will follow at 19:30 or whenever the ladies finish. Judging from past experience, that might not be at 19:30…
Also on Sunday, the NVL Ladies are in action at RAF Cranwell again. Sadly, the hosts – the RAF Hawks – are a non-runner in this one, meaning that what should have been a triangular is now a single match between our 2nd placed ladies and 3rd placed Loughborough who come into the game in stellar form, off the back of an eight match winning run.
Our match week continues on Tuesday (March 21) when Men 1 are in Cup quarter-final action against the much-talked about Tern Hill Fivers. The Div 3 side – more akin to a rugby team, than a volleyball team by all accounts - will apparently be conceding weight all round to their higher ranked opponents but will no doubt have their eyes firmly set on bagging an historic treble after beating Men 2 twice so far this season. Warm-up at Wilnecote starts at 20:00 with Brigade 1 in charge.
We then have something most unusual on Thursday (March 23), with an NVL game being played away from the weekend. The NVL Ladies will be travelling over to Telford to play the current league leaders in another match which should go a long way to defining the final Div 3 Central league table.
All that remains is to remind you of the various emails flying around about tournaments. The tournaments which Cindy has highlighted can all be found in this newsletter’s sidebar. If you want to go to Bristol (Whitfield), you’re going to need to decide quickly though as entries will need to be made next weekend (and it fills up VERY quickly). Sharon’s currently recruiting for this one so let her know if you’re interested.
Friday March 10
A quick history lesson for you. This is the eighth consecutive season in which our team roster has featured a second ladies’ team. Yet in all that time, they’ve never once had the opportunity to play a formal match against their first team counterparts.
On Tuesday, the waiting came to an end as the two sides faced off in the Cup quarter-final in what surely stands as a landmark moment for our club. Eighteen ladies lined up for the pre-match team photo and there were a further three who were missing. Ladies’ volleyball is certainly in rude health in Tamworth this season.
Ladies 2 faced the double challenge of facing more highly ranked opponents and doing so with their coach on the other side of the net. In Maxine’s absence, Coach Bob stepped in as a barely acceptable replacement.
There was little he could do though as Ladies 1 swept to a 25-10 win in the 1st set. The 2nd set was a completely different affair however as Ladies 2 rallied, scoring a highly commendable 18, before a 25-12 final set saw the match closed out 3-0.
Still, Ladies 2 had most definitely had their moment earlier in the week when they completed a Wombourne double, beating their 3rd team 3-2, having beaten their 2nd team a week previously. This was a strange game – to say the least. Coming back from a 25-9 3rd set defeat is one thing. Coming back from 7-2 down in the 5th to complete a 15-11 win is another thing altogether. Bonkers; that’s what it was. Absolutely bonkers – but very entertaining.
Sunday was a good day all round for the ladies. The NVL Ladies travelled across to RAF Cranwell for a single-header against bottom-placed RAF Hawks. This match was done and dusted in next to no time as the ladies cruised to a 3-0 victory in just over an hour.
Kara, Barbara and Hanna each went on serving sprees of seven or eight points during the match. Special mention should be made of Hanna’s effort as she’ll be the first to admit that her serve has been shaky in recent times. Yet she served well all match and then – with perfect timing – nervelessly bombed in seven serves to close the match out and bag the MVP on her NVL debut.
On the men’s side of the club, there were mixed fortunes. A resolute performance saw Men 2 come back from a set down against BCU Tigers to win 3-1 on Sunday. That’s a result that puts them right back in the Div 3 mixer, although both they and BCU do still need the leaders, Rugby and Tern Hill, to begin to falter.
There was less good news on Friday as Men 1 slipped to a 3-2 defeat at Birmingham Uni; the second time they have lost in five to the students this season. At 21-17 up in the 4th, and with a 2-1 set lead, this one looked done and dusted. Fair play though to the students for hanging in long enough to take it to five sets.
The defeat puts the men firmly on the back foot, knowing that victory over Wombourne next week is essential if they are to retain even a slim hope of winning the league.
This week’s match action starts at Birmingham Met on Sunday (Mar 12) when Ladies 1 travel to Sutton Coldfield for a league match. Warm-up is at 16:00. Training for Ladies 2 will take place at Rawlett at 17:30, followed by men’s training at 19:30.
Then it’s time for the big one on Tuesday (Mar 14) as Wombourne come to town for a crunch Div 1 match against Men 1, with both teams currently sitting on three defeats this season. Warm-up at Wilnecote starts at 20:00 with Brigade 1 taking charge.
We need to be making some noise for this one. We might even have an MC coming along to crank it up a notch or two. But we most definitely need you – so do please come along and support the fellas.
Two Rivers remains out of action for NVL training for the foreseeable future. In all honesty, with so many NVL matches right now, this might not seem like a huge loss to the squad but if it does look like continuing much longer, we’ll be investigating contingency plans and/or player refunds.
Friday 3 March
What a difference a week makes. Last week, we struggled our way to one win out of four. This week, it was a clean sweep with four out of four – although not without a fair sprinkling of drama.
The NVL Ladies bounced back from last week’s double defeat in fine style to see off Lincoln (3-1) and Northampton (3-2). This takes them to a 7-3 record which is currently good enough for 4th in the league, with games in hand on most other teams.
Against Lincoln, the ladies had to come back from a set down and were not at their fluent best even by the time they ground out a 25-23 win in the 3rd to go 2-1 up. From there, they simply stepped on the gas and accelerated away though, winning the 4th 25-15 in a game which was noteworthy for Vicky making her return to the team after her ‘maternity leave’ and Barbara bagging her first NVL MVP of the season.
The Northampton match was a scarcely believable rollercoaster ride. Again the ladies lost the 1st but then cruised through the 2nd. Something went catastrophically wrong in the 3rd though with a 25-17 losing scoreline masking the fact that they were at one point 23-7 down. That late rally paid off though, with that momentum translating into a 25-19 4th set and a 15-8 win in the 5th.
Nine sets of volleyball – with just one sub on the bench – can leave the legs feeling a bit heavy but there were no obvious after-effects just 48 hours later when Ladies 1 defeated Telford (the only team to beat them so far in the West Mids league) 3-1. Indeed, there was a period of play in the 1st set that was as clinical as anything you’ll see, when the ladies claimed 22 of the 25 points after the first technical timeout to run out winners by 25-11.
There was a blip in the 3rd set (rollercoasters are no fun if they’re flat) and it took some real scrapping in the 4th to eventually see this one away. But see it away they did and they now return to the top of the local league.
I have deliberately left Sunday’s Ladies 2 game till the end as this one finished in less-than-ideal fashion. With the match away to Wombourne 2 finely poised at one set all, one of Wombourne’s players sadly was taken ill and was unable to continue. With no subs available, the game had to be forfeited.
Tonight, Men 1 are in action at Birmingham Uni at 19:30. The students are one of only two sides to beat the men this season. Revenge was exacted on the other team, South Birmingham, last week so let’s hope that lightning can strike twice.
Sunday (Mar 5) is shaping up as being pretty busy. For once, there’s just once match for the NVL Ladies but they have to travel to deepest, darkest Nottinghamshire for it as they play bottom of the league RAF Hawks at 12:30.
Men 2 will be in Birmingham at 15:00, looking to turn the tables on BCU Tigers before Ladies 2 host Wombourne 3 at Rawlett at 17:30. Men’s training will follow the conclusion of the ladies’ match.
Then, on Tuesday (Mar 7), it’s the one we’ve all been waiting for – the ladies’ cup quarter-final between Ladies 1 and Ladies 2. Brigade 2 is in charge of this one and will need to decide who’s warming up in the away end…
Warm-up starts at 20:00 and will be preceded by a group photo of our two ladies’ squads. Men – do please come on down and show your support!
One final thing to mention is that Two Rivers, the training venue for both our juniors and our NVL Ladies, is currently out of action after (Storm) Doris got angry and blew bits of the roof off. We’ll keep you posted with regard to repairs.
Friday 24 February
Shall we talk matches? Maybe not. This wasn’t our finest ever week. The NVL Ladies' double-header last Saturday saw us come away with two defeats. However, there was much for the team to be proud of. Playing with a bare six, plus a libero, they were so close to an heroic victory over Black Country, only to lose 16-14 in the 5th set.
The second match against Loughborough Students was a far tougher affair. En route to a 3-0 win, the students demonstrated more firepower than we usually see in Div 3. However, a highly controversial officiating call at 26 all in the 2nd cost the (exhausted) ladies a well-deserved chance to nick a set which they had been 24-19 down in.
Over in Stafford, Men 2 weren’t faring much better with a 3-2 defeat at Tern Hill Fivers putting something of a dent in their promotion prospects. This sounded like an incident-packed affair as well, with some reffing controversy of its own and some “robust” play at the net from the hosts. Sadly, the wheels seemed to come off the Men 2 wagon big style in the 5th set. It will now be left to Men 1 to attempt to deflate the Tern Hill juggernaut when it rolls into town next month for a Cup quarter-final.
At the fourth time of asking, we did finally bag some points as Men 1 beat South Birmingham 3-2 to return to the top of Div 1 on Sunday. Even this was perilously close to going the wrong way though. Racing into a 2-0 lead, the team was imperious, putting in their best performance so far this season and coughing up just 26 points in total. What happened next is a mystery. Losing the 3rd set 25-23 isn’t so bad, until you consider that South Birmingham gifted nine in foul serves. Losing the 4th set to 16 had “oh no” written all over it yet the 5th was won with relative comfort to 11. Go figure…
Looking ahead, it’s all about the ladies this week. It starts with another NVL Ladies' double header on Sunday (Feb 26) at Wilnecote. This one sees the ladies play Northampton in the 10:30 slot and Lincoln Cannons in the 14:30 slot. Many thanks to the people who have volunteered to come and help officiate. Meanwhile, over in Dudley, Ladies 2 will be playing Wombourne 3 at 13:00, with Coach Bob in charge. Men's training will take place as per usual at Rawlett at 19:30.
During the week, Ladies 1 will host Telford on Tuesday (Feb 28) at Wilnecote, looking for revenge against the only team to have beaten them in the local league this season. Warm-up is at 20:00 with Brigade 2 in charge.
These are exciting times people. Enjoy the ride!
Friday 17 February
Right then folks; it’s time to clear your diaries. Things are about to get busy. By the time we surface in around six weeks, we’re going to have a far clearer picture of how our teams are going to fare this season.
Between this weekend and the end of March, the NVL Ladies will play a whopping ten fixtures. Chuck in three Ladies 1 fixtures too and it’s clear that they’re going to be a busy group. On top of that, there are a further 11 fixtures to be played across the rest of the club.
That’s a massive 24 matches in the next six weeks. This is what we pay our money for, people!
It’s also when we all need to rally round and do our bit to make sure that everything keeps running smoothly. I’m sure that our club boasts one of the best volunteering rates around – but we are going to be stretched thin over the coming weeks. As ever, if you are able to lend a hand, please do so.
At least we go into this intense period of competition in good form. Last week saw us pick up three wins out of three but is it a sign of things to come?
Ladies 1 were first over the line on Sunday, registering a fine 3-1 win at Hereford. In a match utterly dominated by the serve, our ladies gained revenge for their Cup semi-final defeat last season. It wasn’t without drama (blowing a 24-16 lead in the 4th before winning 26-24 being the prime example) but this was a massively important win against a powerful team which resulted in us returning to the top of Div 1.
An hour or so later, Ladies 2 were celebrating their 3-2 win over a boisterous BCU Tigers side. This was a very topsy-turvy match in which we – incredibly – outscored BCU by a massive 108 to 79. In the absence of Coach Max, Cindy took charge of the ladies as they bagged their fourth win of the season in a match notable for the welcome return of both Vicky and Chiara as well as Anna making her debut.
The hat-trick was completed two days later when Men 1 registered a 3-0 win over Nuneaton. This was their 5th successive league win and saw them also return to the top of Div 1. The 1st set showed the men at their best as they cruised to a 25-15 win. The 2nd set was a strange affair though with an injury to one of Nuneaton’s bare six seemingly disrupting us more than them. The set was secured 26-24 though, before a more comfortable 3rd set secured all three league points. There was another player back in the fold for this game as Dawid returned after a two year absence.
We were busy on Monday night as well as Malcolm, Kerrie and Cindy represented us at the annual Round Table cheque presentation. Thanks to our ongoing efforts with the Santa Sleigh, we were again presented with a handy donation. To recognise the contribution of Ladies 2 to this year’s effort, we will make sure that they benefit the most from this donation.
Looking ahead to this weekend, Saturday (Feb 18) sees the NVL Ladies return to league action for the first time in three months. They’ll be in Cleobury for a double-header against Black Country (11:00 warm-up) and Loughborough Students (13:00 warm-up). Meanwhile, over in Stafford, Men 2 face a big test of their promotion credentials as they play Tern Hill Fivers (12:00 warm-up).
On Sunday (Feb 19), Men 1 go to South Birmingham (12:00 warm-up), looking for revenge against one of only two teams to beat them this season.
Now listen up – because this is where it starts to move around a bit. The Ladies 2 home match scheduled for Sunday has been postponed by our opponents. Instead, Kara will be taking ladies’ training at Rawlett – but this will start at 18:00 due to a judo competition taking place beforehand. With both men’s teams playing at the weekend, there will be no men’s training. There will however be mixed training on Tuesday (Feb 21) at Wilnecote from 20:00.
I think that’s enough for us all to be getting on with now, don’t you?
Friday 10 February
“If you build it, they will come”, said Kevin Costner in the 1989 film, Field of Dreams; a film which in which a farmer thinks it’s a great idea to build a baseball diamond on his corn field so that long-dead ghostly baseballers can return for one last game. He did well to get that idea past his wife.
Seven years earlier, Ian and a few others built Tamworth VC in the hope that others would come. As we approach our club’s 35th birthday, it’s safe to say that they did come.
I mention this because, every now and again, it’s worth stopping to look back on a job well done. I found myself thinking about this partly because of the latest award we picked up after we were recognised last week as the leading community sports team in Tamworth (see the story from the Tamworth Herald on the Whatsapp thread if you haven’t already seen it).
But I was also thinking about this because of the remarkable success we’re having on the recruitment front. This is a success in which we all play a part. Sure, some people are more on the recruitment “front line” than others but we all still play a part in creating a welcoming environment for all new joiners.
As you may have read last week, Kara’s latest Volley 101 course has now concluded and we’re hopeful that four of her ‘graduates’ will now be joining the club. Look no further than Malc and Hanna for examples of the players this course can deliver.
On the men’s side of the club, Piotrek is our latest new recruit while on the ladies’ side, I am delighted to formally welcome Anna after an unfortunate injury in her very first session back in September prevented her from signing up. Vicky has returned (looking no different than when she left!), Chiara is back with us on a temporary basis and we hope to re-sign Dawid next month.
Back on the court this week, our solitary game ended with a gut-wrenching 3-2 defeat for Men 2 at home to BCU Tigers. When the Tigers took the first two sets, things weren’t looking too hopeful. Yet the men engineered quite a turn-around, grinding out both the 3rd and 4th sets by 25-22.
In such situations, I typically put my money on the team who’s come back from two down – but it wasn’t to be. Having gone 6-4 up, a sloppy few minutes saw us lose 11 of the next 13 points to lose it 15-8. If there is some consolation to be had, it lies in BCU being eminently beatable in the return fixture.
The match also saw Ewan play the full five sets as he continues his return from a broken ankle. And there were another five sets of adult volleyball for libero Jacob as well; fine preparation indeed for his England junior talent trial in a couple of weeks. Go and show them what you can do young man!!
Looking ahead, there’s a ladies’ double-header this Sunday (Feb 12). Ladies 1 make the long trip to Hereford for a 16:30 warm-up while Ladies 2 host BCU Tigers at Rawlett with a 17:30 warm-up. Brigade 3 takes charge of this one. Men’s training will follow at 19:30 – or whenever the ladies’ game finishes.
On Tuesday (Feb 14), Men 1 are in action at Wilnecote when they host Nuneaton at 20:00. On Valentine’s Day, nothing says “romantic night out” more than some crash, bang, wallop volleyball so gets yourselves down to Wilnecote and make sure that Brigade 1 don’t get all kissy-kissy without you.
Love you!! Awoo!!
Friday 3 February
It’s awards time again tonight. We’ve been shortlisted for the Sports Team of the Year in the Spirit of Tamworth Community Awards. It’s the first time we’ve featured at these awards. The fact that local councillor Tina Clements nominated us reinforces how people outside the volleyball community are indeed aware of what we’re up to.
We’re up against Tamworth Football Club and Tamworth BMX Club in the sports team category. Seb, Ian, Cindy and I will be at Drayton Manor to find out whether there’s another trophy coming our way. We may even have to have a beer or two while we wait. The things we do for this club…
It’s been a relatively quiet week on court this week. Our solitary match saw Ladies 1 cruise to a 3-0 win over Birmingham University; a win which took them back to two points clear at the top of Div 1.
I’ve said before that it’s always a good sign when you can grind out wins even when you’re not at your best – and the ladies proved that point. They certainly didn’t play badly; they just never quite hit top gear.
But when push came to shove – like at 17-11 down in the 2nd set – they knew what to do. The heavy serves rained in for 5 minutes or so, after which a shell-shocked University side found themselves on the wrong end of a 25-22 defeat.
The ladies’ squad depth is being tested at the moment – for various reasons. Hanna started this game on the outside, Sharon made her first 1st team appearance of the season and Federica also made her debut in the 3rd set. In all, 14 different players have now featured for Ladies 1 this season. It’s a good job that we have so many decent players to choose from!
Yet again, next week sees us play just one match. Don’t worry – it all starts to get a bit busier after this week, especially for the NVL Ladies. For now though, we’ll content ourselves with watching Men 2 playing the combative BCU Tigers at Wilnecote on Tuesday (Feb 7). Warm-up starts at 20:00 with Brigade 3 in charge of the officiating.
Before then, we have training at Rawlett on Sunday (Feb 5) for the ladies at 17:30 and the men at 19:30. Kara’s final Volley 101 session also takes place at 19:45 in the small gym. She may well be looking for volunteers to participate in the session (week 10 always involves game play) or to come down to the pub afterwards to hopefully welcome a few new members into the club. So get involved! Who knows – we might even have a new trophy to raise a glass to by then.
Friday 27 January
If bad things reallly do come in threes, then the remaining outside hitters across all our ladies’ squads need to tread carefully for the next few weeks.
On Sunday, we again lost an outside hitter to a rolled ankle, with the injury again suffered when no other player was anywhere nearby. It was just one of those unfortunate moments that occur in volleyball. Before Christmas, it was Beni at Cleobury. On Sunday, it was Marta at Telford. We wish our pocket dynamo a speedy recovery.
As an aside, it was fortunate that one of the Telford players was a doctor as her assistance was invaluable. That stands as a severe reminder to those of us, myself included, who forget our first aid training almost as quickly as we have it.
The strange thing about the match was that the injury seemed to rattle Telford more than us. Telford were 2-0 up and looking pretty comfortable when it happened. Yet once the game restarted, and with Hanna summoned from the bench, it was Ladies 1 who took the set. Sadly, the momentum wasn’t maintained and the eventual 3-1 defeat brought an end to the ladies’ five match unbeaten run in the league.
One team that is building an unbeaten run of its own is Men 1. They’re now undefeated in four in the league after beating Wolverhampton Uni for the second time in just five days. The students turned out a stronger team on Sunday than in the first fixture – but fared worse, shut out in a 3-0 defeat.
The men are now starting to add a bit more consistency to their play. Yes, there was still a wobble in the 2nd set when a five point lead was blown, meaning that two set points had to be saved, but the set was eventually clinched 27-25. With the team now sitting on top of Div 1, it all bodes well for the rest of the season.
On Tuesday, Ladies 2 were looking to get their season back up and running and they did just that. Well, sort of. The record books will show a 3-0 win over Nuneaton yet this was a forfeit win after the visitors turned up with just five players.
This was a wholly unsatisfactory outcome for the ladies. Sadly, short-handed teams and clubs seems to be a feature of this season. The ladies played a practice match anyway and duly triumphed in five sets over a team featuring two NVL quality servers.
Looking ahead, the first Spartans into action this weekend are four of our juniors – Ewan, Jacob, Clara and Martyna – as they take the first steps towards hopefully securing their places in the West Midlands U-17 and U-16 squads this Saturday. Good luck to them all!
There’s training as normal on Sunday (Jan 29) at Rawlett for the ladies at 17:30 and the men at 19:30. Our only fixture of the week then takes place on Tuesday (Jan 31) when Ladies 1 take on Div 1 strugglers Birmingham University, knowing that a win will take them back to the top of league as their season reaches its halfway point.
Warm-up starts at 20:00 at Wilnecote with Brigade 2 in charge of the whistles and flags. Come on down, clap your hands, stamp your feet and make some noise. And ladies - be careful out there please.
Friday 17 November 2017
I'm sure you've already realised but it's now just 37 shopping days until Christmas. Which means it's 38 days till the big day itself.
Which also means (even more importantly!!) that it's just 22 days till the Spartans Christmas Party!
I'm sure you've all got suggested works dinners and party invites coming out of your ears but this is the one you don't want to miss. And if you don't want to miss it, then don't delay in booking your tickets! There's a limited number this year so I wouldn't gamble on leaving it too late to grab yours.
As a reminder, this year's event sees us tobogganing at the SnowDome at 18:00 on Saturday December 9th. After that, there's time for a swift pint, a quick change of clothes and then it's dinner and disco time. Now, you can do just the tobogganing for £10 or the dinner for £29.95 - or you can do both for £38.70. Simply follow those links to secure your tickets. Partners, friends and family are more than welcome to both events and kids are also welcome to join us for the tobogganing.
With the advertising out of the way, let's get back to the news. This was a 3-game week and we once again took six points. The week didn't start well with Ladies 2 falling to a 3-0 defeat at Nuneaton on Sunday. By all accounts (and not for the first time this season), this was a very tough match against a side which we hear has picked up a couple of high level players over the summer. The easier fixtures will no doubt come soon!
On Tuesday, Men 2 did the usual Spartan thing of giving the home crowd top value for money by indulging in a fraught five-setter. It never should have been fraught after we took the first two sets at an absolute canter. If the 25-23 defeat in the 3rd set came as something of a surprise, the 25-14 loss in the 4th was a proper slap in the face. Thankfully, normal service was resumed with a 15-10 5th set win. The overall points aggregate was 102-86; which tells you this should never have been a five-set match. Anyway, the men now move to three wins from five; halfway to their season's target already.
Last night, Ladies 1 continued their recent good form, taking their third consecutive local league win with a strictly routine 3-0 win at Tettenhall and moving to 2nd in Div 1. The ladies conceded just 9, 15 and 16 points.
Looking ahead, the NVL Ladies have a double-header over in Nottingham (yet again) on Sunday (Nov 19). They take on Lincoln Cannons (warm-up 13:00) and Nottingham Rockets (15:00).
Back at base, Ladies 2 play Wombourne 2 at Rawlett. Please note the slightly earlier-than-normal start time. Warm-up commences at 17:00 - to make sure that the game doesn't back into men's training which starts at 19:30. Brigade 2 are in charge of this one.
On Tuesday (Nov 21), Men 2 play a home league match for the third week in a row when Rugby are the visitors to Wilnecote. Warm-up commences at 20:00 with Brigade 1 in charge of the whistles and flags. NVL training returns to normal on Thursday with both squads training at Rawlett from 20:00.
All that remains is for me to warn you if you're planning to be out in Tamworth tonight. It's the men's teams' social tonight so there will a crowd of volleyballers prowling the streets like the feral, alcohol-fuelled louts that they truly are. Well, that's not strictly true as we'll actually be tucked away, having a slap-up meal at The Albert, courtesy of Chef Toni.
With about a quarter of the season's fixtures played - and with all our teams doing well - it feels like an opportune time for a celebratory drink or two.
Friday 10 November 2017
Balance is everything so I'm also keen to mention some happier tidings. Our former Men 2 player, Toni, is getting married next weekend in Tamworth. We wish him and his fiance, Larisa, all the best for their big day. Toni is still the head chef at The Albert Pub in town so if you're ever in the vicinity, pop by to say hello.
Back out on the court, last week was a successful one as our various Spartans squads racked up four wins from six. Across the whole season, I'd settle for that sort of strike rate!
Ladies 2 got us up and running with a fine come-from-behind 3-2 win at Warwick Uni on Saturday, earning themselves their first three points of the season.
The NVL Ladies had no such joy on Sunday, going down 3-0 at Div 2 side Birmingham in the 1st round of the National Cup. At 16-12 in the 1st set, we had them rattled but their higher division hitting power took the game away from us after that.
Over in Dudley, Men 2 were also up against it, falling to a 3-0 loss at Wombourne 2. Their hosts won this league last season but were allowed to stay in Div 2; making this our men's toughest test of the season. Chalk this one down to experience.
Back at home, the NVL Men marched on with 3-1 wins over both Lincoln Cannons and the RAF Harriers. With five wins from five, the men are already opening up a gap at the top of the division as they close in on the halfway mark of the season.
Men 2 rounded off the week with a 3-0 win over Nuneaton on Tuesday. This was a routine win, with the highlight being a 2nd set win to just 9 as the Spartans servers had something of a field day. The men are now one-third of the way towards hitting their season's objective of six wins.
It's a slightly quieter week ahead this week; just the three games! Ladies 2 are away at Nuneaton at 19:00 on Sunday (Nov 12) but the scheduled Ladies 1 game at Hereford has been postponed. There will be no ladies' training on Sunday; just the usual men's session at 19:30.
On Tuesday (Nov 14), Men 2 are back for the second of their three week burst of fixtures when they welcome Warwick Uni to Wilnecote at 20:00. Brigade 3 will take charge of this one.
Ladies 1 round off the week with a trip to Tettenhall on Thursday (Nov 16), meaning that NVL training that night will be for the men only. You can jump serve to your hearts' content, gentlemen!
All that remains is for me to remind you to buy your Christmas party tickets via the links on the diary part of this newsletter. Tickets are limited so if you leave it too late, you risk missing out. Don't delay!!
Friday 3 November
Volleyball? You want some more volleyball?! Ok then, you asked for it; I'll give you some more bloomin' volleyball!!
How does 18 matches in 26 days sound to you? Really; you want more?! You're bleeding me dry here! Ok, I'll lob in another seven training sessions as well. I can't say fairer than that, guv. I've got nothing left to give!!
If anybody was thinking of having a bit of volleyballing downtime during November, think again.
During November, each of our six squads will play at least two matches.With eight men's matches and ten ladies' matches in such a short space of time, this is when league tables can finally begin to take shape.
There are a few points worth bearing in mind at this incredibly busy time. Firstly, training schedules will be affected. For example, I believe there's not a single ladies' Sunday training for the whole of November. Also, where possible, regional games being played at Rawlett will now start at 17:00, rather than 17:30, to avoid them running into the 19:30 training session.
Secondly, reffing brigades will come under pressure so do please help out where possible. On this note though, a huge vote of thanks to the Ladies 2 players (the only ones who aren't playing this Sunday) for helping out the NVL Men this weekend.
And thirdly, with so much happening, do please keep an eye out for the various Whatsapp threads and this newsletter for last minutes changes and updates. There are still 30% of club members who don't even open this email. If you miss out on stuff (matches, changes to training times etc), you'll only have yourself to blame. Your coaches and captains are not going to organise your diary for you!!
Looking back, last week saw us register one win and two defeats. Ladies 1 were the sole victors, bagging a 3-0 win over our noisy neighbours, Birmingham Met, on Tuesday. The ladies had to scrap for this one at times but it was still an efficient job against a team that us took us to five sets on both occasions last season.
Earlier in the week, Ladies 2 fell to their second league defeat, 3-0 away at Redhill. There was no shame in this defeat as the Redhill squad is stuffed full of young girls who will be looking to play NVL for Black Country at some point this season. Taking them to 19 in the 3rd set represented a strong showing for our ladies.
Sunday's NVL action saw the NVL Men go down 3-0 to Cambridge & Anglia Ruskin in the 2nd round of the National Cup. It says a lot for how much the men have achieved already that this feels like something of a disappointment. It's nothing of the sort. C&AR are a Div 2 side - and we had to field a severely depleted squad (with Vali making an excellent audition as a middle!). The men now drop into the Shield competition and will be in knockout action again in early December. We'll find out who the opposition will be after next weekend.
Looking ahead, Ladies 2 have another Saturday road trip when they head over to Warwick Uni tomorrow for a 14:00 warm-up. Debuts are coming thick and fast now; Mariachiara is our latest newbie taking to the court tomorrow.
Sunday then looks incredibly busy. It opens up with the NVL Men hosting a double header from 10:00 at Wilnecote. They'll be playing Lincoln Cannons in the first match and RAF Harriers in the third (warm-up at approx 14:00).
Further down the M42, the NVL Ladies are in 1st round Cup action when they travel to play Div 2 Birmingham, the reigning National Shield holders, at 12:30. Newcastle Staffs await the victors in the next round.
Men 2 face an equally tough road trip when they go to Wombourne 2 at 13:00. Their opponents actually won Div 2 last season but were granted permission to stay in the division.
Whatever the result, they'll need to keep some gas in the tank as they're back in action 48 hours later on Tuesday (Nov 7) when Nuneaton are the visitors to Wilnecote. Warm-up commences at 20:00 with Brigade 2 in charge of the whistles and flags.
As mentioned earlier in the week, there will be no Sunday training for men or women this weekend - on account of there being so many matches on Sunday. NVL training will take place as usual on Thursday.
In other news, Bob will shortly be publishing the objectives for each squad. Why do we need these? Well, it gives us all something to aim for during the season - but it should also help players understand the decisions the coaches make. Coaches are in a tricky situation - keeping people happy while also looking to win games and develop new talent. These objectives should remind us what we're trying to achieve.
Much as it might pain us to say so, Christmas is now not that far away - which is why Kara today sent out details about the Spartans Christmas party on Saturday Dec 9. We're reverting to the successful Snow Dome tobogganing, dinner and disco combination from a few years back. Separate tickets are available for the tobogganing (£10) and the dinner (£29.95) but a combination ticket is also available for both activities at £38.70. There is an upper limit to how many people we can accommodate for dinner so I'd recommend you buy your tickets promptly!
That's enough for now. Enjoy your incredibly hectic November. Lap up every bit of volleyball you can. All of that action from just £25 per month?! It's the deal of the century!!
Friday 27 October
So, I think it's fair to say that our Spartans Super Sunday didn't quite pan out as expected. With four wins banked already, Ladies 2 were locked in an epic struggle to make it five from five against Rugby on Sunday evening .
As you may have heard by now, the match was deep into the 4th set when there was an injury to an official.
The match restarted after a 55 minute delay. The ladies wrapped up the 4th set before losing 15-12 in the 5th but, if we're all honest, the result was by now of secondary importance, compared to knowing that our teammate was ok.
Much of what happened that evening reinforced why we do things the way we do. I cannot say a big enough thank you to the Rugby player (a cardiac nurse, apparently) who took charge of the situation but she was ably assisted by Rose and Sasha. The coaches and officials quickly cleared the court and kept the players informed of what was happening. The Whatsapp messages wishing our teammate well, sent by those club members who knew what had happened, were great to see. Six teams; one club, indeed.
In terms of the results earlier in the day, the NVL Men extended their winning start to the league season to 3-0 as they disposed of both MK City and Stowmarket. In a see-sawing encounter, Milton Keynes were beaten 3-2 as the men triumphed 15-9 in the final set. Stowmarket were dispatched with a touch more ease, 3-1.
The men now sit top of NVL Div 3 Central. They're certainly getting value for money, having played 14 sets in three league matches. Perhaps their first shut-out will come this weekend. The guys are in National Cup action, when they host Div 2 side Cambridge & Anglia Ruskin in the 2nd round. Should they win this, then a glamour 3rd round tie awaits as Super 8 side Malory Eagles would be making the trip to Tamworth in early November.
Over in Nottingham (again!), the NVL Ladies were cranking into the sort of form that saw them steamroller so many teams last season. RAF Hawks, the division's perennial weakest team, were never going to pose much of a threat and were duly dispatched 3-0. Vicky set the tone for this match, almost single-handedly giving the team a 16-2 (!!) lead in the 1st set. They never looked back from there.
In the second fixture, Nottingham Rockets posed a tougher threat but were also seen off 3-0. With Vicky having had to go home between matches, the team were down to a bare six but were still too strong; a late 3rd set rally to 23 being all that the Rockets had to show for their efforts. The ladies also sit atop their division, albeit having played more games than most other teams.
So, what have we got for you this week? Well, the action opens up with a trip to Redhill for Ladies 2 tomorrow (Oct 28) as they go hunting their first league win. Coach Kara takes the reins for this one as Maxine is away. Warm-up is at 14:00.
As already mentioned, the NVL Men are in Cup action on Sunday (Oct 29). This match takes place at Rawlett with a 13:00 warm-up. The NVL Ladies are providing the officials. There will be training later that day at the usual times of 17:30 and 19:30.
On Tuesday (Oct 31), there's Ladies 1 action as the regional champs take on our neighbours, Birmingham Met, at Wilnecote. Warm-up is of course at 20:00 and Brigade 1 takes charge of this one (Vale has now kindly offered to act as the Brigade 1 organiser). NVL training follows on Thursday (Nov 2) on our all-new two court set-up at Rawlett.
For those of you interested in such things, players #52 and #53 (Chris and Kenza) formally joined the club this week. Kenza is set to make her debut for Ladies 2 tomorrow. Players #54 and #55 could soon follow as we're expecting two more newbies at training this Sunday.
Six teams; one club. But I guess you already knew that.
Friday 20 October
Clearly, us Spartans love to get value for money. In return for our monthly membership fees (which are highly competitive, by the way!), we seem intent on securing as much court time as possible. How else can we explain how two of this week's matches ran for a combined 4.5 hours?!
At this early stage of the season, we've played ten matches (winning six of them). Four of those matches have now gone to five sets. The ladies have been responsible for three of them; the latest of which was a 3-2 defeat for the NVL Ladies against Northampton last Sunday. After Ashfield were dispatched 3-0 in the opening match, few of us could have predicted that the second match would be a 2h17 epic. But it was - and we were sadly on the wrong end of it.
Two days later, there was a Tuesday night double-header of a different kind. At home, Men 1 were getting their local league campaign up and running with a 3-1 win over South Birmingham. This was our opening fixture last season too - but we lost it on that occasion, en route to falling agonisingly short of a league title. Could starting with a win be a sign of better things to come this year?
Over in distant Cleobury, Men 2 toiled away for 2h10, only to fall short in another 3-2 defeat. There was plenty for the team to be proud of in a battling defeat but the fact that this was tinged with more than a hint of disappointment tells you how far this squad has come in a short space of time.
With Men 1 now having played, that just leaves one team - Ladies 2 - who are still to enter the fray. That will be rectified this Sunday when they host Rugby in their season opener at Rawlett at 17:30. Technically, Brigade 2 is in charge of this one but with our squads scattered far and wide this weekend, they will need some help.
If players could be there for 17:15 to start getting the net set up, it would be most appreciated. Training for the non-NVL men will follow at 19:30 - or once the match finishes (it's bound to go to five sets, isn't it...?).
Visitors to Rawlett this weekend will notice that new holes have now been drilled in the floor. We're just waiting on our final few supplies to arrive but we hope to have our new two-court system in place for NVL training next Thursday.
Talking of NVL, there's a busy Sunday ahead for both the men and women. The NVL Ladies are back off to Nottingham (again!) to take on RAF Hawks and Nottingham Rockets. Warm-up for the first game starts at 12:30. Meanwhile, the NVL Men have their first road trip and their first ever double header as they head to the delights of Milton Keynes. Warm-up for their first game is at 11:30 as they play MK City, followed by Stowmarket.
Unusually, there is no home match at Wilnecote on Tuesday. Instead, there will be a ladies' training session from 20:00. This ensures that Ladies 2 do not miss out on training time just because we had to put their match into a Sunday evening slot.
In terms of a bit of club admin, most players have now completed their registration forms. If not, you need to do this asap. Also, our newer players should have their payment standing orders in place by now. If not, Seb will be chasing you - as overdue fees is something we are going to clamp down on more this season.
And finally, I know it's still October but it's time to mention the C word for the first time. The date of our Christmas party has been advertised for some time now - Saturday, December 9th. We're reverting to the format from three years ago with a tobogganing session at the Snowdome followed by the party afterwards. I don't think there's an Olly Murs tribute singer this time and for that, I am truly grateful. Kara is investigating using Eventbrite so that you can all buy your tickets electronically. More news to follow soon....
Good luck to all our teams in their five matches this Sunday. It truly is a Spartans Super Sunday. Is it too much to ask for five wins?! Play up, Spartans!!
Friday 13 October
I tell you what; you don't want to miss too many training sessions at the moment. Skip a couple of weeks and you might return to find that another three players have arrived, such is our current rate of growth.
Despite having loads of members, we do still need to be careful with our officiating brigades as we have several dates coming up when multiple teams are in action. Our brigades will therefore be stretched thin. Next Tuesday, for example, both men's teams are in action so we will need the ladies to turn out to ref.
Looking further ahead, Oct 22 sees both NVL teams playing away while Ladies 2 play at home. And Nov 5 sees Men 2 playing, as well as both the NVL squads. This is what happens when you run six teams...!
Full details on our reffing brigades' commitments will be uploaded to the website soon. If you're not aware, our Super Admin is also now the Ladies Div 2 league commissioner so she's been a bit busy recently. Details will also be added to the club calendar. If you haven't already merged that calendar with your own phone calendar, I recommend you do so now!
Looking ahead to this week's fixtures, there's an away double-header for the NVL Ladies on Sunday (Oct 15) as they travel to Mansfield to take on both Ashfield Vipers and Northampton. Back at Rawlett at 17:30, Coach Max will take training for the remaining ladies. Men's training follows at 19:30.
On Tuesday (Oct 17), Men 1 start their local league campaign by hosting South Birmingham at Wilnecote with Brigade 1 assisting. Warm-up starts at 20:00 - as it also does in Cleobury where Men 2 will be looking to make it two from two in Division 2. We then round off with NVL training on Thursday,
There's just the one game to report on from last week after Ladies 1 beat Telford 3-2 at home on Tuesday to record the first ladies' victory of the season. This is a new-look team still finding its feet and things didn't look great at 2-1 down. However, something clicked at that point and they ran out comfortable - if somewhat surprised - winners, taking the next two sets to just 14 and 7.
One final point - a couple of adverts have crept into this newsletter (but if you're reading this on your phone, you'll need to scroll right down to see them). Maxine is offering 10% off personal fitness training for Spartans members while Sasha is offering physiotherapy services from her new clinic in Birmingham. Drop them a line if you want to find out more.
Friday 6 October
It wasn't quite how any of us wanted the NVL Ladies season to start. With just two points played at Ashfield Vipers, last season's Mrs Dependable, Barbara (who played in all 35 NVL and L1 matches), was waving at the bench, asking to be substituted.
I'm no medical expert but even I know that a little finger which is pointing at 45 degrees to where it should be is not a good thing. Barbara was swiftly dispatched to hospital although none of us would have been surprised if she'd simply gone outside and bashed the dislocated digit back into place herself. Sure enough, she was back at training just four days later. They're clearly a tough bunch in the Smitten family.
Rather disconcerted by Barbara's sudden departure, the ladies showed no sort of form in the 1st set set, losing to 14. They rallied in sets 2 and 3 but never really landed a punch en route to a 3-0 defeat.
Another defeat followed two days later, when Ladies 1 lost 3-2 at Cleobury. At 2-0 up, they couldn't quite put the game to bed and so started the defence of their regional league title with a loss. However, let's not forget that this is a team in a transition of sorts; new players have come in and others are playing in new positions. There are encouraging signs already that it won't be long until they're back in the winning groove.
No such problems on the men's side of the club as they racked up wins 2 and 3 of the season. The NVL Men opened their league campaign with a thrilling 3-2 win over Newmarket on Sunday. 'The Jockeys' are a decent Div 3 outfit who finished 4th last season. When they went 2-1 up, they may well have thought three points were in the bag but our boys bounced back brilliantly to claim the last two sets, 25-22 and 15-11.
Men 2 then jumped on the bandwagon, beating Telford 3-1 at home on Tuesday. Telford finished 3rd in Div 2 last season, narrowly missing out on promotion. For our men to claim such a scalp in their first ever match at this level was a fantastic result. The coaches may now need to rethink their objectives for the season!
Looking ahead, there's just one match next week as Ladies 1 host Telford at Wilnecote. Warm-ups start at 20:00. The officials will be supplied by the newly-formed Brigade 1. This includes Barbara, Hanna, Marta, Vicky and Natalia (all of whom will be playing), plus Carly, Cindy, Wendy, Dawid, Marek, Ewan, Jacob, Hafies, Ian, Paul and Tej.
Details on all three brigades and which matches they're covering will be on the website shortly.
For those of you who are new to all this, our whole club is divided into three Brigades for reffing purposes. Each brigade has an organiser and at least two qualified 1st refs. We do expect that everyone does their bit when it comes to officiating. There are minimum standards for each division which we will always meet. We certainly have enough players!
When your Brigade is due to officiate, you should let your organiser know whether you can make it. If not, and if there are not enough other people within your Brigade who are available to officiate, YOU will need to organise a replacement. Don't leave it to your organiser or assume that everything will be ok. Agree a swap with someone else in another Brigade; please don't leave your club-mates short.
There's training as normal on Sunday at Rawlett for both men and women. With no weekend match commitments, the squad coaches will be expecting a big turn-out. As you may have noticed, the recent influx of players has meant that competition in all six squads is now incredibly high. Don't miss out just because you preferred a Sunday evening in front of the telly!
Friday 28 September
Hi guys, it's me again as Simon is on holiday this week.
I'll keep this week's update fairly short as I'm writing this at 8pm and I'm up at 2am for a flight to Morocco!
After weeks of Bob's Tuesday night circuits, the time is nearly here for some of the other squads to get some competitive volleyball action.
The week starts with the NVL Ladies away at Ashfield on Sunday 1st Oct, warm up 12.30pm. Good luck to all involved as the ladies look to build on their performance last season.
Sunday also sees the NVL Men back in action following their epic Cup upset. This time it's league team Newmarket providing the opposition. This game is at Home at Wilnecote, warm up is 1.30pm. Seb has been working hard to get refs, scorers and line judges for this game so a big thank you from me on behalf of the committee to those helping out.
On Tuesday Mens 2 play their first game in Division 2. There's potentially a huge squad available for this game so the coaches will have their hands full. Warm up is 8pm at Wilnecote.
With the full fixture list still not released by the league, we're still working behind the scenes on the refereeing rota for this season. So we're looking for volunteers to help out on Tuesday night. With Ladies 1 away, a full squad of men playing (including some ex-M1 players) maybe the NVL men can help out and repay the favour of those helping on Sunday?
Ladies 1 also play on Tuesday night, away at Cleobury, warm up is 8pm. Good luck to them!
Just a few other things to mention.
If you haven't got your registration form to Kara please do so immediately. It's really simple, if you're not registered, you can't play. And with the number of players we've got in the club, someone is waiting and ready to have your spot.
Please also ensure you're all paid up. The club makes it easy for you to pay by giving you several payment options. Please make it easy for Seb (the club Treasurer) by paying regularly and on time. He's too busy to be chasing you for money so please help him out.
As per last season, we're already noticing that a lack of experienced scorers is causing a wee headache. If you want to learn how to score, let me or your coach know and we'll teach you. Scoring is much better than doing a line. You get to sit down and don't have to make difficult judgement calls!
Good luck to all teams in action over the next few days.
It's time I was off to find my walking boots, pack a bag and try to snatch 4 hours sleep...
Friday 22 September
When I wrote last week's update, I signed off by saying "enjoy your moment, gentlemen". The NVL Men really did take me at my word.
Every one of us hoped they would impress in their first appearance as an NVL side - but to knock out a side two divisions higher than them was probably beyond all of our expectations. What a result. And - by all accounts - what a performance. I was stuck in a meeting, keeping an eye on the Whatsapp alerts, scarcely able to believe what I could see unfolding on my phone.
Huge credit to Coach Seb and all the boys on such an impressive start to life in the NVL. The challenge now is obvious; replicate that form in the league itself. There will be a few Div 3 teams feeling very nervous about facing us now.
The rest of us will get to join in the fun soon, I promise! Kara is set to publish the fixture list imminently. You'll see that both NVL teams are back in action on October 1st (we will need volunteer officials to help out at the men's game). In the regional leagues, both Ladies 1 and Men 2 are set to play their opening fixtures on October 3rd (the ladies will be away at Cleobury).
In welcoming Chris Gardner to the club this week, we have hit an important milestone as Chris is the 50th player on our books. This is a remarkable milestone in our club's recent development. But it does mean that we have a LOT of players all competing for spots in our four regional teams.
In other player news, we send our best wishes to Ian who is laid up with a particularly nasty sounding back problem. It caused him to miss his first Volleyball England Board meeting - so it must be bad! Fingers crossed it clears up soon.
Needless to say, there's training as usual this week. We're away for a week so Maxine is taking ladies' training on Sunday while Zsuzsa is kindly covering the NVL Ladies' session.
So, let's do this people - one more week of training and then the madness of the league season begins. Let's win some trophies, eh?
Friday 15 September
We first started talking seriously about the possibility of having a men's NVL team right back at the beginning of this year (I think!). Nine months later and here we are, ready to launch our sixth competitive side.
From the start, the committee unanimously agreed that this was the right thing to do. The ladies had shown what could be achieved when they entered the NVL in 2015. But it also felt like the obvious next step in our club's development.
Since then, Seb has worked tirelessly to pull together a highly competitive 12-man squad while Kara has worked her usual magic behind the scenes to get all the admin in place. A mention in dispatches to Malcolm and Bob too for their efforts in making sure Rawlett could accommodate both our NVL squads at training.
Now, it's all down to the players themselves to prove this was all worthwhile. I have no doubt they will - because this is quite some squad! Their first test couldn't be much tougher though. No easy starting fixture against a mediocre Div 3 side for them. Oh no; they open up tomorrow with a home match against Cardiff Celts in the 1st round of the National Cup. Cardiff play two leagues higher than us - in NVL Div 1. They finished 4th in that division last year, winning 11 of their 16 matches. We wanted to experience a better standard of volleyball - and we'll certainly get our wish!
This match will be played at Wilnecote tomorrow. Warm-up starts at 14:15, with the first ball being served around 14:45. If you can spare the time, do please get down to Wilnecote and support the guys in what promises to be a fantastic match. As per their inter-squad arrangement, the NVL Ladies are providing the match officials - so you don't have to worry about being press-ganged into service as a line judge if you come on down. Just sit back and enjoy the entertainment!
Good luck to all the players involved but especially to Chris and Vakis as they make their Spartans debuts. And welcome back to Vale, who's in the squad tomorrow after an absence from the club of several months.
Aside from tomorrow's match, the next week sees the usual September training schedule - men's and women's sessions at Rawlett on Sunday, mixed training at Wilnecote on Tuesday and NVL training on Thursday. We're still awaiting confirmation on the entire regional fixture list and will communicate this as soon as we have it.
Enjoy your moment, gentlemen!
Friday 8 September
It seems like we're properly up and running again. We've seen almost everyone at training now; only the last few holiday stragglers remain!
Turnout at the sessions I've attended so far has been good: 18 at our first combined NVL session last night and 24 at Bob's mixed session on Tuesday.
Those are impressive numbers but what's even more impressive is this - if my calculations are correct, we could have as many as 45 regional league players this season. In recent years, September has often seen us worrying about whether we have enough players. We shall worry no more!
Admittedly, we very quickly move from a situation of having too few players to potentially having too many. I know there will be some of you reading this, thinking "how will I get a game"? I understand that concern.
All I ask is that you give the coaches a bit of time to figure out how best to make this work. We have never been in a situation like this before. The challenge of keeping so many players happy, while also meeting our squad objectives, winning matches (and competitions) and developing talent represent a tricky balancing act. On behalf of the coaches, all I ask for is your patience.
In the meantime, make the most of September! Of all the months, this is the one where you will get most training. Take advantage of this. We have several weeks of normal scheduled training ahead of us, with sessions on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.
We have this week been given permission to drill new court fixings at Rawlett, meaning we can now turn that venue into a two court hall for training purposes. This has been done with NVL in mind but it's something we may also use for Sunday squad sessions.
Dates and times for this week's sessions are in the usual side-bar. I've also added the dates for this season's Christmas party and end-of-season awards dinner. Put them in your diary now!
And finally, if you haven't yet completed your club registration forms and returned them to Kara, please do. If you're not registered, you can't play...
Friday 25 August
With Simon and Kara on holiday, it's my job to write this week's update. Which is quite easy really as nothing has happened on the court yet.
However, off the court things haven't really slowed down. The committee and coaches have been busy getting ready to run Rawlett as a 2 court NVL training venue and Kara has been busy as ever with fixtures and registering coaches and referees.
Hopefully you're aware by now that Men 2 will be playing Division 2 volleyball this season. We worked really hard last season and just missed out on promotion but with other clubs pulling teams out of the league, we've been asked to step up. Div 2 volleyball will be a stern test but one I'm really looking forward to.
A reminder on training times:
NVL training for the Men starts this Thursday 31st August 8pm till 9.30pm at Rawlett
Ladies regional training and Men's regional training starts Sunday 3rd Sept at Rawlett. 5.30pm till 7.30pm for the Ladies and 7.30pm till 9.30pm for the Men.
Mixed training for the entire club starts Tuesday 5th Sept 8pm till 10pm at Wilnecote.
Mixed NVL training starts Thursday 7th Sept 8pm till 9.30pm at Rawlett using the the new 2 court system.
Enjoy the rest of your summer break and any Bank Holiday barbecues but don't overdo it, the new season is only days away...
Friday 18 August
It doesn’t seem that long since I last wrote one of these updates. Our off-season seems to be over almost before it properly began.
But here we are; ready to launch into what promises to be an exciting season. We head into this season in a way that few of us had ever thought possible – with around 40 players already signed up (and possibly more to come) and with SIX competitive teams, as our men enter the NVL for the first time.
Looking ahead to this season, I can tell you several things with some confidence: we will find ourselves occasionally stretched in terms of our resources, we will find ourselves under pressure to maintain the high standards of previous seasons (both on and off the court) and we will make mistakes.
But if we all pull together and appreciate the bigger picture of what we are trying to achieve in the longer term, we will succeed. We just need to be patient and to stick together.
There is one expression I will repeat time and time again this season – six teams, one club. Not one of our teams is more important than any other. No single player is more important to our club than any other.
No-one on our committee wants to see us become a club where players don’t know each other; where NVL players might turn their noses up at the idea of reffing Ladies 2 or Men 2; where regional players feel intimidated at the thought of training alongside our NVL players. Please help us out in ensuring that this never happens.
In terms of the logistical stuff you all want and need to know:
Memberships: Kara has issued new membership forms to you all. Even those of you who have been around for years are required to re-sign please. This ensures that we have up-to-date contact and medical details. The forms also provide you the links to all the codes of conduct that you should read ahead of the season. If you don’t complete your forms, you’re not a registered player.
Fees: Your membership fees remain at the same level they have been for several years now. To be clear, an adult membership costs £300 per year and the NVL top-up £180. We will get tougher on overdue payments this season. If you’re not paying your fees promptly, your coach will be informed that you’re not eligible to play.
Training: Thursday night is our new NVL training night. Both squads will train side by side at Rawlett from 20:00 – 21:30. As the men have a very early start to their fixtures, they will train alone on Aug 31. The NVL Ladies will then join them from Sept 7.
For the main club, we will restart on Sunday Sept 3 at Rawlett. As I’ll still be on holiday, Bob has kindly stepped in to run the ladies’ session from 17:30 – 19:30. Seb will then take the men’s session from 19:30 – 21:30.
There will also be mixed all-club training sessions on Tuesdays at Wilnecote from 20:00 – 22:00. These will commence on Tuesday Sept 5 and will continue until our first regional fixtures need to be played.
Fixtures: The NVL fixtures are already in the club calendar. Regional fixtures are yet to be confirmed (although Kara is in the process of organising these). As soon as they are confirmed, we’ll let you know and Ben will get to work on the officiating rota. If you haven’t already done so, get the club calendar on your phone so that you are always aware of any changes. And as you may have heard earlier in the week, Men 2 will be playing in West Mids Div 2 this season after one team withdrew, creating a vacancy we were only too happy to fill!
Communication: Once the season is up and running, every week will feature a club email. There will be WhatsApp groups for the whole club, for each team and for each officiating brigade (you will need to opt into these however – by completing your new membership form). Quite simply, there is no excuse for not knowing what’s going on! Help your captains and organisers out by reading what they send you. Don’t wait for them to chase you. They’re captains, not baby-sitters.
And just to clarify, captains will be the ones reminding you of matches and checking availability. That’s their job. Coaches pick the team; that’s their job.
So, that’s all for now folks. Enjoy what promises to be a hugely exciting season. But just remember how much we depend on our club-mates, not just our team-mates. Without our club-mates, there are no coaches, refs, scorers, line judges, administrators, training partners and volunteers.
Six teams. One club.