Cambridge University Womenâ€™s Blues Volleyball Team
by Lucia Linares on 2 July 2015
I started playing volleyball at the age of thirteen as, having grown-up in Austria, it is one of the most popular sports to play; during the winter in-doors with 6 players on either side of the court and in summer on a beach court with only two players per side.
Whilst at school and university I spent most of my time playing in-doors and one of my favourite features of the game was the importance of working together as a team. Although volleyball is quite a technically skilled sport and requires all players to focus on the tactics of the game, reading the other teams’ players’ strengths and weaknesses, deciding where to place the ball, knowing when to tactically use a strong attack, the game is also extremely psychological. For this reason, working as a team is also one of the most challenging aspects of the sport. Whilst on court, one can sense the morale of the other team members, which in many cases can either make or break the game. This is why one will often see huge amounts of cheering on and off the court as well as trainers calling time-outs at perhaps unusual moments in the game in order to mentally throw the other team off balance but more importantly bring their own team back into focus.
When I first arrived at my undergraduate university I was unsure of whether or not to join the volleyball team as I was concerned that after having played with the same girls for five years it was going to be hard for me to assimilate into another team; however, going to the try-outs was one of the best decisions I made, a decision I made once again when I arrived in Cambridge and do not regret at all.
Playing volleyball with the University of Cambridge is especially exciting. Throughout the year the Blues Team competes in a variety of tournaments. BUCS (British University Colleges and Sports) takes place throughout the year and consists of home or away matches every Wednesday in Michaelmas and Lent term. Cambridge Women’s Blues sits in the highest league known as the Premier League and this year made it to the finals, winning sixth place out of all UK universities and holding our place in the top division.
Another tournament is the Student Cup, which starts as a one-day qualification event where teams have one chance to play against each other and based on the results at the end of the day, either drop out or get to move on to the next round. This year the match against Liverpool was extremely tight and although the Blues Team won two out of the three matches in the day, due to the point difference, we unfortunately did not qualify.
One of the last events, which is particularly special to Cambridge is Varsity, the historically famous sporting rivalry tournament with the University of Oxford. As the first time experiencing this tournament I was extremely excited in the days leading up to the match, purchasing my Cambridge Blue, ‘Which Blue Are You’ volleyball t-shirt. On the day itself there were around one hundred spectators spotting the bleachers with dark and light blues. The game itself was tense, as over the years Cambridge has been the dominant blue in Varsity matches, but this year Oxford fought back extremely hard with a technically very skilled team. Although Cambridge lost, there were no hard feelings as the two universities came together in an evening dinner event to celebrate the end of the day.
This convivial environment is how I would describe my time playing volleyball with the Cambridge Blues Team, challenging and tough at times particularly when trying to balance commitments alongside academic work but ultimately thoroughly rewarding for the people you meet and the friendships you form.