With a plethora of talented new players arriving in October from locations as diverse as the Czech Republic and Devon, expectations were high for the University women's volleyball team as the 2016-2017 season got underway. However, despite showing great potential in early Universities Premier South Division games against the Universities of Oxford and East London, the blues failed to capitalise on strong performances.
It wasn’t until playing Sussex at home on 30 November that the squad secured their first league win as a new team, and this victory came off the back of qualifying in clinical fashion for the National Student Cup Finals, beating university teams from Exeter & Falmouth, Plymouth, Southampton, and Bristol all in a single day.
Victory at home against Sussex University was followed swiftly by an outstanding display of skill and tenacity in an away game against Bournemouth University the following Saturday. The team fought hard to win 3 sets to 2 in a gruelling match against tough opposition. The next day saw the squad engaged in another 5 set match, this time against local club Northampton as part of a National Shield tournament. Cambridge came from 2 sets down to snatch an unlikely victory from their opponents.
Jennifer Bellamy, vice-captain and 5th year medical student at Pembroke College, said of the team’s performances, “We adapted our game to our opposition and played smart – did what we needed to do. We beat a real diversity of teams over the eight days. There was a lot of trust on the court with everyone filling in and doing the job assigned to them, even if they were playing out of position. A massive physical effort too – especially for those who played the majority of the matches.”
As a result of their recent success, the team have climbed two places in the BUCS Premier South Division and are no longer at imminent risk of relegation. The blues women are looking forward to the rest of the season. Maya Wright, the team’s captain and PhD student at Jesus College, said confidently, “Now that we know we are fully capable of dominating any team, we will smash the rest of the season!”