Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Messy Fridays' Woodstock Gig - A Musical Examination From An Audience Member...

Saturday night saw the hottest musical ticket in Oxfordshire take place at Woodstock Social Club, with "Messy Fridays" pumping out some funky tunage to its adoring mass of fans.  But would it be a raving success with lavish praise generously heaped upon them by the many volleyball critics in attendance, or would it all be a big song and dance about nothing?

Kicking off the evening was a delightful "One way or another" hit by Blondie.  Rather ironic really when you consider the hair colour of the lead singer, flicking her golden locks around like a slow-motion clip from a Timotei shampoo commercial, Jess looked quite the part as lead singer of this jolly quintet of musicians.  And then she opened her mouth and, well, tickle me pink and knock me down with a feather duster, *what* a voice!  Smooth as a baby's bottom, her dulcet tones were like golden syrup as they filled the social-club airwaves.  Dressed in a white top and with holes in her navy jeans, further irony was apparent when she rattled off "Torn" by Natalia Imbruglia as if she'd been singing for 40 years!  Delightful...

On we progressed with several further rousing renditions of well-known tunes belted out, and then it was time to turn down the pop and bring out the Kurt Cobain! The irony this time was provided by the ever youthful Matt Smith.  Plain T-shirt, jeans and white trainers finished off with a flat-peaked baseball cap, Smith-Junior certainly looked the part.  He also looked like he was about to graffiti the nearest wall, or perform some other street-related mis-demeanour, but staying on the right side of the law he whizzed up and down the guitar strings with arms like well-oiled pistons, some excellent intricate rhythms banged out via the rather ample speakers behind him to perfection, the moment certainly did seem to "smell like teen spirit" to us all!  Fine work Smith-Junior!

A quick breather between sets allowed Jess time to guzzle down some more honey and Matt a quick bit of artistry with the spray can out back.  And with audience members now populating the dance floor with glasses fully re-charged, it was time to bring out the style and class of the big fella on bass!  Who's the daddy?  Neil "Pappa Smith" is!  And reeking of cool and class he was too, black polo shirt, jeans, a healthy crop of greyish-black hair, cheesy smile, 'nuff said - only a pair of shades and a generous portion of gold bling around the neck were missing from the appearance.  Now then, Papa Smith's knees may creak a little on the volleyball court these days, but nothing was creaky about this man's bass fingers, providing stupendous support down in the lower octaves of the overall sound coming from the instruments.  Great stuff Papa Smith... with the audience now well-oiled and Oxford's finest volleyball players joined by a smattering of excitable locals, "I love rock and roll" went down a storm with everyone!

But what would a band be without that extra something?  It wouldn't be right without someone present who has at some point in life had to play C# harmonic minor, 4 octaves with two hands.  Said position in this band is more than capably filled by Luca!  Yes OVC's excitable pet spaniel was well up for this little gig!  Sporting jeans and a white space-man t-shirt, after a strangely subdued first half, his customary red-bull persona was kicking in at half time, and by the time we reached the second half and the chants of "LUCA, LUCA, LUCA" could be hear emanating from the buoyant audience, his hands were tinkling those ivories like two daddy long-legs spiders having an epileptic fit, fine work from the young Italian spaniel!

A brief mention to the band's drummer - nobody seems to know who he is, but "number 5" performed solidly all evening, a fine asset to the band.  With the final song over and the audience begging for more, a final repeat of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" bought the house down with a monumental encore to round off a fine evening in the heart of Woodstock.

So then, the final summing up!   Would our quintet of musical talent be sailing through to the next round, or would Simon Cowell be putting his hand up, stopping the music and delivering a confidence-shattering verbal slapping of the highest order?  

Not a bit of it!  With a hugely varied repertoire of songs there was something for every musical ear.  Fantastic vocals by Jess, guitar excellence by the Smith father and son duo, and nimble finger work all evening by Luca.  Messy Friday's?!  This was a far-from-messy Saturday, Oxford Volleyball Club awards Messy Fridays "10 OUT OF 10"! :-)    

Written by Matt Buckley

Friday, January 29, 2016

Are you interested in learning volleyball???

We have a few places left on our next beginners' course - check out the relevant tab for more details. These courses are a great introduction to the sport and the club and are highly recommended!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Vollox continue their strong season in the BVA

For their ninth and tenth games of the season,  Vollox faced Basingstoke and Spikeos 2, who were both sitting at the bottom of the table with no wins. Playing each other for the first time this season meant one of them was guaranteed at least a "1" in the win column, but would they make it "2" with a win against the illustrious Oxford team who are looking to defend their league title for a fourth season?

The fixture started with Vollox taking on Basingstoke who were expected to be the tougher opposition, with several experienced players on their team. While in previous games Vollox have taken a bit of time to find their rhythm, on this occasion they quickly found their feet.  A strong service run by Gareth put them in a commanding 12-2 lead, and they continued to apply pressure with a very efficient performance. There were very few unforced errors and they comfortably took the set 25-10.

The second set started more evenly, but Vollox again got into a groove and fought hard in a number of closely contested rallies to edge ahead. Greg was outstanding in defense and offense - the cherry on top of his MVP performance was solo-blocking Basingstoke on two consecutive points - he was a wall!  By the end Basingstoke seemed resigned to defeat and Vollox cruised to take the set (and match) 25-11.

Vollox then took to their refereeing duties and observed the game between Spikeos 2 and Basingstoke.  Based on the warm-up it looked to be an uneven contest, with Spikeos greatly lacking in experience.  The game started with Basingstoke siding out effectively and building a small lead, only for Spikeos' middle to go on a massive run of tough serves, which were compounded by Basingstoke's sudden drop in level. Reading built a lead and by the time Basingstoke fought back it was too late.  The second set followed a very similar story, and Spikeos 2 finished the match as surprise winners.

Vollox entered the final match slightly cautiously, not wanting to witness another surprise result.  Their worries quickly evaporated as Greg served for 12 points to put them in an impressive 19-3 lead.  Spikeos 2 had no answer to the firepower offered by Vollox and the final set score reflected the one-sided nature of the contest (25-5).  Credit to Spikeos 2 for not giving up - they fought as well as they could - but their inexperience showed against a Vollox team who were firing on all cylinders.  Martijn (MVP) was deadly on the outside, and Jon was distributing the ball very nicely (apart from when Rune was defending with his big sweaty arms!).  The second set ended 25-8, with Vollox reclaiming the top spot in BVA Men's Div 1.

Written by Gareth

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Men's 3, Season 2, Episode 2: The Kendrick Kracker!

We all know about Men's 1 and Men's 2, but what about us jolly lot in Men's 3?  Very quiet in terms of matches (and therefore match reports) this season, so time to start making amends...
Oxford Bullox aren't blessed with an assortment of French, Germans, Italians and other such countries who have all played volleyball since they were 8 months old.  Instead we have a fine medley of try-hard enthusiasts who started volleyball in their 30's (well apart from captain Matt Smith of course, who might even have reached 15 years old by now).  Accompanied by our flamboyant Italian coach Luca, who possesses the energy and bounce of a loveable tail wagging cocker-spaniel that has just downed a can of Red Bull, a team consisting of Matt S, Matt B, Tony, Jon, Nick, Ivan and the vastly experienced Neil "Papa Smith" all set sail for Kendrick School in Reading!
Up first, Didcot... a cheeky warm-up, some words of wisdom from Coach Red-Bull and we were off!  Tit for tat at first with scores tripping up over themselves, things very tight indeed.  Alas as seems to happen with the Bullox from time to time, first passing started letting us down, a few dodgy arms here and there turned into mis-hits and other subsequent errors, setter Matt S was steaming round the court like a pinball machine in full flow trying to rescue things, but after a promising start we began to make a right Horlicks of it all.  At 12-20 down Coach Red-Bull sensibly called a time-out…
Any better after some wise and soothing words?  We may not have the skill levels of most people reading this report, but Team Bullox contains more spirit than a Scotsman's whisky cabinet!  In a resurrection that Lazarus would have been proud of, slowly but surely we clawed back the gaping chasm between the two teams... 17... 18... 19... 20... suddenly it was 21-21!  A few more points traded... 24-24... 25-25... and by the slenderest of margins, we cobbled together 2 points to finally lurch across the line and win 27-25!  Mamma-mia...

On to set 2....
Now then, if the last set was edge-of-your-seat stuff, this one was squeaky bum time all the way!  With the score rarely more than one or two points apart, both teams jostled for the advantage.  The capacity crowd could barely contain their excitement... it wasn't long before we were at the business end of the set, although our serve had started to let us down on a few occasions by this point.  Alas our ice cool finish to the previous set wasn't to be, and disaster struck as from a scoreline of 23-24, Didcot eked out the final point to nick the second set.  Damn!  
A swift and stiff brandy to calm the nerves, and then on to the deciding set...
Did I mention this was a close match?  And so it proved, we snuck ahead 8-7 before the customary switcheroo half way through the third set.  At 10-10, a dubious call by the referee... and it was all getting too much for Coach Red-Bull on the side-lines, and a verbal diarrhoea of loud and passionate Italian diatribe suddenly spewed from his mouth!  Mr. Referee raised his eyebrows at Captain Matt Smith in an inquisitive manner, who rather eloquently told Coach Red-Bull to "kindly refrain from any further outbursts or misdemeanours" (I paraphrase slightly...)  On we pressed... annoyingly a few individual errors cost us vital points, but on we soldiered, cos we iz well-'ard in Team Bullox... 15-15... 16-16... 16-17... 17-17... 18-17!! Could we nick it?  NO!  18-18... 18-19... oh-oh.. and then tragedy struck!  The killer blow landed by Didcot at the bitter end, 18-20 the final scoreline and thus a 2-1 win to them!  
Disappointment all round the team after our efforts, but we dusted ourselves down and immediately prepared for Reading Uni...
Well, the warm up certainly gave us a flavour of what to expect!  Reading have a powerful set of hitters, a few lusty blows were hammered hard into the 3 metre line like cannons going off at regular intervals, and when one Reading mis-hit torpedoed cleanly down the line of my centre parting leaving a friction burn in place before my arms even had time to react, we knew we would have to be at our best to compete.  A quick change in personnel too, Neil had contributed hugely to our performance against Didcot but it was time for Coach Red-Bull to deploy young Ivan into the team for his first match!  16 years old, but with some great skills including a bullet-like serve that would make your eyes water if you were to miss a pass aimed at waist height...
Now then the scoreline won't say so, but Team Bullox certainly upped their game from the previous match significantly!  First passing was much better all round, giving our setter a chance to get us into the match more often and provide some hits to his front men.  In defence, we were starting to cotton onto their crafty technique of quick hits through the middle, cheeky sets and crafty tips at all angles in between the raging raw power of their angry hitting beasts!  Sure we were still done like kippers a number of times, and we each ticked ourselves off when it was our own fault, but improvements were evident all round the court.  We certainly caused Reading some anxious moments, and them calling a time-out with the score at 10-9 to us was a great but rather brief morale victory before they returned, upped their game significantly and, despite our staunch resistance, ran out as 25-14 winners of set 1.
Second set, and with enthusiasm still high we tried to get as close as we could to Reading. The result was never in doubt but we battled with all we had to push Reading as hard as we could in order to earn their victory.  Some epically long rallies were had, and in particular Jon dug out a couple amazing first passes from a couple of lusty Reading hits, and in the middle I was working up a tremendously hot forehead of sweat trying to block two big Reading front men (think "wardrobe" and "barn door" for size comparisons), there were times when you could have cooked an egg on it due to the radiating heat... 
We threw everything at them and tried all that we have been taught, but it was just "one of those sets".  You know, a bit like those days where you hit every red light on the way into work, choose the wrong queue in the supermarket or hit 'reply all' to an office email.  Nobody likes such days but they just happen unfortunately, and certainly in this set nothing quite worked.  A 10-25 loss but smiles all round after a battling effort!  Lots of sore limbs left the battle ground of Kendrick School, and we knew that the following day we would all be walking around with the ease and flexibility of a pensioner on a cold winter’s morning!
So overall a 2-1 loss and a 2-0 loss.  Down, but certainly not out!  Thanks for playing with us Neil, and thank you as always to Coach Luca for all your help from the side-lines!  Bring on the next matches ;-)

Written by Matt Buckley