Weymouth in the NVL: a small seaside team with big ambitions
1st April 2021
With the excitement around volleyball’s long-awaited return building, the 2019/20 Men’s and Women’s National Volleyball League (NVL) title winners from each league are taking a trip down memory lane to reminisce on their triumphant season.
Weymouth, champions of the Men’s Division 2 (South), are an indoor volleyball team in their infancy having only formed in 2017. However, the side have secured three consecutive promotions to climb up through the NVL and now have set their sights on even bigger ambitions. First Team Coach Ryan Stout gives us the lowdown.
Tell us a bit about your club, its ambitions and history.
Weymouth Beach VC was formed in 1971 and is currently celebrating its 50th year in existence. During the earlier years, it was only a beach volleyball club. An indoor side was later formed and went on to compete in Division 1 of the national league but, sadly, it stopped competing.
In 2017 I successfully approached the club to re-form the indoor team. We assembled an ambitious team and have now secured three consecutive promotions to go from our regional league, where we started, to Division 1 of the NVL. One day we would love to make it to the Super League and play competitively with the best sides in the country. One day we would love to have a women’s and junior section to complement our men’s team and beach events.
How does your team’s 2020 title win rank against your club’s other major achievements?
It difficult to say how it ranked because we’ve won promotion every year and each promotion has played a major factor to get to where we are today. We want to be successful and build a culture in our club that reflects this, competing nationally is fantastic for a club like ours in a small seaside town let alone in Division 1 post-Covid.
It's hard to compare to the beach side of the club too, as we’ve been one of – if not the – best beach event in the country for many years and continue to strive to be best. Our indoor team is relatively young as it has only been together for four seasons.
Aside from winning the league, tell us about some of your favourite memories from that season.
We had some really good games. Richmond had a good team with lots of U18 athletes who played for England and they pushed us all the way.
You have to create your own memoires in this sport and I think just being with your teammates at training each week and traveling to away games brings it all together, this helps when you’re winning games.
How would you describe your side’s style of play and greatest strength? Did you have a star player?
We’re very quick for a team who has only played in the lower leagues and I think that showed in recent years competing against Polonia and Wessex in the Cup. We weren’t blown away by those teams and even took a set off Wessex when we were in Division 2 and they were in the Super League with current internationals and an ex-Olympian.
In terms of a star play, that’s really hard as we have a few players that have competed internationally. Current Scotland international Sean Hendry, who also helps coach, and Valdis Baranovs, who played in the Super League for Wessex and has a vast experience of volleyball having been brought up through the Latvian junior volleyball programme, would be my two picks. Both players have been instrumental in getting Weymouth to Division 1.
Who was your toughest match against and what made them formidable opponents?
We played IBB Polonia London in the Cup that year. Close to 100 people came to watch and they had current and former pro players who had competed on the international stage all over the court.
It was a real eye opener for some of our players who, except for the few seasons we had been together as a team, had only ever played local league. Polonia just controlled the tempo of the game and were so in control of every aspect. But they still showed us respect throughout.
Which club was your favourite to play against, and why?
We always seem to have tough matches as teams tend to bring their A-game when they play us. We have a great relationship with Urbond VC in Portsmouth and admire how they run their community projects. They also have a good team with players who are physical, aggressive and love to win. Luckily, they are yet to beat us, but we’ve had some really good games with them.
If you could pick any player, past or present, to join your team, who would it be and why?
I put this question to some of the team and a few famous names popper up: Wilfredo León, Earvin N'Gapeth, Micah Christenson, the list could go on. I think any of these would be amazing just to have for a training session let alone a whole season.
And from the beach side we would love to see a player from the top 10 of the FIVB World Tour compete on our beaches. A pairing such as Sorum/Mol would be fantastic to see at Weymouth.
What are you most looking forward to about the NVL’s return?
We’re really looking forward to competing in Division 1 and testing ourselves at this level. It’s a huge step to compete nationally and the commitment levels needs to be upped too. We’re also looking forward to playing teams we haven’t played before and seeing how the lads fair in different locations against tougher opposition. The unknown is exciting.