Guernsey Volleyball Pre-Island Games Press release

With the 2017 Island Games less than one month away, the Guernsey volleyball squads are in their final stages of preparation. The biennial competition is being held in Gotland this summer, a small island off the East coast of Sweden.

Despite being one of the smaller sports on the island, Guernsey volleyball had a successful winter season and both the men’s and women’s volleyball squads are looking forward in anticipation to the Games. Both squads this year will be player coached with Carla Marley and Jen Lindfield taking on this role for the ladies for the first time, following the unexpected resignation of Rod Elmy earlier this year. Nick Gaudion and Sam Loveridge take on this role for the men for the first time also.

A number of the players who will be representing Guernsey this year have competed in the Island Games before however, the ladies team does have two debutants in the form of Becky Gauvain and Sasha Kazantseva both of whom shone for the B team in the recent Inter Insulars. Gauvain was even presented the MVP award for her valiant efforts and team captaincy on the day. The remainder of the squad have 37 Island Games appearances between them across Volleyball, Tennis and Swimming. The men’s team also have a number of first-time players at this year’s Games including Jack Robillard and Matt Wakeford.

Jersey born Stuart Black will make his debut Games appearance for Guernsey, having appeared for Jersey volleyball twice previously. This men’s squad is the youngest for many years. Six of the ten men’s players currently play volleyball at their respective universities in the UK and Canada. This will bolster the team nicely as the team has a wide variety of experience against different opponents, standards and styles.

Due to a number of the men’s squad studying in the UK and further afield, it is difficult for the team to train together. Despite this, all players are training on a regular basis. The team plan to gel and refine tactics before the Games when the university students are back on island. The bulk of the technical and fitness training is already complete.

With a number of high-class Guernsey volleyball players working for the Aztec Group, an independent, owner-managed business specialising in alternative asset classes, the company kindly and generously sponsored the sport. Now employing over 580 people across six prime jurisdictions, the Aztec Group has been pushing the boundaries in fund and corporate services since 2001, with client-centric teams, multi-jurisdictional solutions and award-winning service. Aztec Group’s contribution has been used toward supporting the island teams in the lead up to the Inter Insular earlier this year and the upcoming Island Games.

The squads received brand new playing kit, which was organised and supplied by the Aztec Group, the Guernsey Volleyball committee and the team at Fletcher Sports. This sponsorship has also been distributed accordingly as some unexpected extra costs affected all of the players due to represent Guernsey in volleyball next month.

Private Equity Administrators (PEA) is to sponsor the Guernsey Ladies Volleyball team at this year’s Gotland NatWest Island Games. The company, which administers private equity fund structures offshore and onshore, has bases in Guernsey, Denmark as well as Sweden where the event is to be staged. Guernsey player/coach Carla Marley says the funding is a great enabler for the squad: “The costs involved in playing in team sports at an international level can be prohibitive. We are extremely grateful for the financial support PEA has given us and we hope that we can do them and our many supporters proud on the court.” The costs of the Games have affected some of the Guernsey squad meaning they were not able to attend this year’s event. The same restrictions have been seen in Jersey so the teams are certain this will not be a deciding factor in their overall position.

The ladies squad has been training together since January with help from stalwarts Neil Elmy and Karen “Bucky” Archenoul. They have also had extra support with gym-based trainers Russ and Tom and the team at Tri-Fitness. The squad took the opportunity to play in the South West Championships a couple of weeks ago with much needed financial assistance from Generali Worldwide bursary. The team made it to the play-offs and came out of the competition in fifth place overall. The squad utilised the trip to rebuild confidence and eradicate the unforced errors made in the A team Inter Insular match. The weekend was also an opportunity to gel as a team, on and off court, and work on team tactics.

A change to the ranking system in the Island Games sees the ladies team seeded fifth out of ten and the men move up one spot seeded sixth out of nine teams. The ladies are playing in Pool A alongside previous winners Saaremaa, Hitra, Jersey and the host team, Gotland. The men’s pool is tough with two of the strongest teams in the competition present. They are playing in Pool B alongside previous silver medallists Faroe Islands, Aland & Greenland.

Both squads need to place second in the group stages to have any chance of fighting for a medal. “If we can clinch second in the group stages we will have done exceedingly well.” says Sam Loveridge, “We expect a strong showing from all our players and know we can push the top teams, we are certainly hoping for an upset!”

Guernsey Volleyball has endured mixed fortunes throughout the years at this level. The Scandinavian teams of Aland, Faroes, and the Baltic Sea Island of Saaremaa have dominated since its inception.

Guernsey faired well in both events in the early years, with the ladies winning a silver medal on home soil in 1987 and the men following two years later with their own silver in 1989. Following their silver, the ladies went on to lose out in the bronze medal play-off for the next 6 consecutive Island Games, finally breaking that in the Isle of Man in 2001, with a well deserved bronze medal. This was Guernsey’s last medal won in volleyball at the Island Games and it was the year in which Carla Marley debuted for volleyball.

In the noughties, the Guernsey sides started to tail off as the sport began a slow decline in the island. Strong teams such as Bermuda and Menorca only added to the pressure when they joined the Island Games family; Guernsey’s high table finishes started to teeter off. Despite this, the men placed in their highest position in 18 years in the Jersey Games 2 years ago and hope to improve on that in Gotland this year.

 

Ladies

Island Games Appearances

Position

Carla Marley       (Player Coach)

10 (8 x Volleyball & 2 x Swimming)

Inside Hitter

Jen Lindfield       (Player Coach)

5

Inside Hitter

Sarah Biggins

6

Outside / Inside Hitter

Emily Gledhill

3

Outside Hitter

Gemma Nicolle

2

Setter

Vi Alcoba-Segura

2

Setter

Carly Tucknott

6 (2 x Volleyball & 4 x Tennis)

Outside Hitter

Becky Gauvain

1

Setter

Sasha Kazantseva

1

Outside Hitter

Lisa Dowinton (Team Manager)

3

Inside / Outside Hitter

 

 

Men

Island Games Appearances

Position

Nick Gaudion     (Player Coach)

4

Setter

Sam Loveridge   (Player Coach)

3

Inside Hitter

Dan Skipper

2

Outside Hitter

Gavin Fitch

4

Outside Hitter

Chris Ashworth

2

Outside / Inside Hitter

Stuart Black

3 (2 for Jersey)

Inside Hitter

Ryan Martel

5

Outside Hitter

Jack Robilliard

1

Setter

Matt Wakeford

1

Outside Hitter

Callum Hockey

1

Opposite Hitter

The official website of the Guernsey Volleyball Association: www.guernseyvolleyball.com

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