Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bristol (aka Bath) success!! (aka educating Stef)

One could argue that the Whitfield tournament has lost some of its former glory when moving away from the traditional Bath venue, which would explain why this year Vollox was only represented by a small band of hardcore grass enthusiasts (what?) in the persons of Karina,  Maïté, Stefanie, Felipe, Neil and Dan. But Whitfield always was, and still is foremost a social event; a place to congregate and exchange one-selves among the like-minded; a place of learning even. It’s wasn’t long then until it transpired to us that our democratically elected captain Stef (by this we mean the new definition of democracy) was blissfully unaware of the “terminus techniques” for the phenomenon of double entendre, so we duly invited the drinking game called “Innuendo” and played it all weekend for her educational benefit.

As far as the athletic aspect was concerned, we were punching above our weight on paper in Div 2, after having performed a thorough analysis of our potential as a team, carefully assessing the strengths and weaknesses of our opponents, populating a bias-corrected decision matrix to feed into an optimal estimation risk analysis, and then leaving it too late to register in time to secure a place in a lower division. Nevertheless, after a valiant effort in the pool stages on Day 1, we successfully managed to qualify for the Plate tournament the next day! We’ve duly celebrated our early success, and were thus perfectly prepared (i.e. numbed down) for what Day 2 had to throw at us. In a heavily contested pool we were never led astray onto the path to victory, yet barely stayed clear of it. When the bean-counters sat together at the end of a long day we were all but ready to pack our bags and head back home, when suddenly we found ourselves in the Plate finals. Imagine the look of joyous surprise on our faces - all around us babies started to cry, car alarms went off and allegedly all the milk in Bristol spontaneously curdled. Nevertheless, there we were, so might as well make the best of it.

Much glory was amassed in that finest of battles, which ensued upon the sun-scorched fields of Bristol. Blows were traded to the beat of our racing hearts; the ball tirelessly easing its trajectory through air thick with sweat, adrenalin and the coconut-fumes of vaporised Nivea lotion. Neil was releasing salvos of his secret weapon, the 270 tornado-spike to fakie. He even sometimes hit the court; too bad he won’t remember any of it because he doped himself to Nirvana and back on adult-prescription Nurofen (btw, Neil, remember the tenner you owe us? Worth a try…). Maïté, who lost the use of her fingers at a rate of a digit a match, was valiantly setting us up on the stumps of her mutilated wrists, while team captain Stef was no less valiantly defending the impact zone of the opposition’s power line with her face, elevating the expression “taking one for the team” to new levels. Karina “the human tennisball machine” was tirelessly distributing balls to the opposing corners, while Felipe was covering our own corners with the élan of a stuxnet-infested Roomba caught up in an endless reboot cycle. All the while at the net, Dan was giving his best impression as Gandalf on Durin’s Bridge at Khazad-Dûm (thereby commending himself for the position of middle player in the upcoming indoor season - he clearly hasn’t thought this one through). I would say we did well, and for a team of six setters who were desperately out-bloked (no typo) by their towering opposition, yet still managed to occasionally conjure up a small lead in each set, I reckon so will history. Alas, as the final whistle blew it was not quite enough, and so the others got the plate, we got egg-cups, and Dan’s got an ice-cream so everyone was happy after all. The end.

Written by Dan

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