2019/20: An exceptional season on & off court for Riga Women
29th 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.
Sophie Zillmann, Captain of Coventry & Warwick Riga’s Women’s Team, recalls a season “full of excitement, hard trainings, laughter, and joy” as her side claimed the Division 2 (North) title.
Tell us a bit about your club, its ambitions and history.
Coventry & Warwick Riga is the largest volleyball club in the Midlands, providing practise and competition for male and female athletes in NVL, recreational and junior teams – all in a positive, welcoming environment.
Our coaching philosophy teaches discipline, commitment, responsibility, teamwork, and self-pride. Coventry & Warwick Riga also sets a high standard for junior volleyball through its professionalism, values, and high standards of player development.
How does your team’s 2020 title win rank against your club’s other major achievements?
As one of the most established clubs in the Midlands – and the winner of the Huck Nets’ Club of the Year Award at Volleyball England’s 2020 Annual Awards – we have many achievements over the years we are proud of. However, we have never excelled as exceptionally well as we did throughout the 2020 season.
It was a season full of excitement, hard trainings, laughter, and joy as both our men and women’s teams overcame weaknesses and excelled in their strengths. As a club, we came together and not only played well as volleyball teams but met new partners, created new key objectives and goals for the future, building amazing friendships along the way.
Aside from winning the league, tell us about some of your favourite memories from the 2019/20 season.
As a team, we enjoy being together and not only have we created on-court relationships but have become very close friends off the court too. This, together with our commitment to the sport, has created a new era for our women’s team’s development and we are looking forward to welcoming many new female athletes that would love to take their game to the next level.
How would you describe your side’s style of play and greatest strength? Did you have a star player?
We are an incredibly versatile team with many players being able to play multiple positions. This gives us the opportunity to quickly adjust to the opponent’s game plan and meet the requirements necessary to strengthen our own key plays. However, in the end, it was good training sessions each week, commitment, consistency, and excellent coaching from Jon Chetham (Volleyball England’s Coach of the Year in 2017) that gave us the competitive advantage.
Who was your toughest match against and what made them formidable opponents?
Our toughest match was against York. They’re a strong team with incredible players that kept on challenging us through each point. It was always a case of which team would be able to stay focused and play consistently as to who would pull through to the end to get the victory.
Which club was your favourite to play against, and why?
As a club, we believe in the development of our players but also the squad, and even though the matches against York were testing our limits many times, it was these games that made us better overall, on and off the court. We very much enjoyed our time playing against these amazing athletes. We wish York all the best and hope to see them in Division 1 over the next season or two.
If you could pick any player, past or present, to join your team, who would it be and why?
Being a volleyball club with the vision to promote the sport throughout the country for all levels and ages, we believe Maria Bertelli is the right fit for our team. An English national that has competed internationally, played her best games for the national team, and promotes the sport daily is exactly what we are looking for. We love her drive, passion and committed for the sport and believe that her involvement in the development of the junior programmes will be one of the greatest assets for the future of Volleyball England.
What are you most looking forward to about the NVL’s return?
We look forward to a competitive season meeting new teams, players and creating a greater community of like-minded athletes; as well as the opportunity to further advance the players and teams within our club. All our teams have set new goals and we are incredibly dedicated to achieving these as a club and becoming stronger with each season.