Patriots to pack a punch after Elks bow out
Although Ulster Elks won the title in volleyball's Premier 32 league last season, they will not be defending their crown.
In a shock move over the summer, Ulster sides withdrew completely from the men's Premier 32 league to concentrate on playing locally.
It means that Aer Lingus and Ballymum Patriots, who narrowly lost out to the Elks last season, will be the teams to watch. A revamped Cbphoto team, now called Munster Thunder, will be based in the University of Limerick and Ardscoil Rís.
Another new team is Amber Gold. In their opening match on first match, they play the top DVC men's team, new to this division and coached by Irish head coach Laurent Cauet.
Also new to the division are Youghal-based Europywd. They face twice previous champions the Jets in their opening match, but at least will have home advantage.
Two seasons ago, a team from Cork, largely made up of ex-Patriots, won the premiership.
In the women's top division, Aer Lingus made it a league and cup double last season. Their core of strong players remains, including Irish captain Noemi Kuncik.
Hoping to press them hard are the Clondalkin-based DVC.
The Dublin side has boosted its roster with new players Kasia Sarnicka from Newbridge, Joanna Straszynska and Martina Lajsalova.
They join club stalwarts Jana Langford, Nicole Horsman, Doris Osipov and Claudia Walter. Taking a break to concentrate on coaching this season is Clodagh Doherty.
This weekend, they play newly-promoted Naas and on November 7, face a critical show-down with Aer Lingus.
Last weekend, the club organised a 24-hour fundraising volleyball marathon. Among the other clubs helping out were Aer Lingus, UCD pair Leanne Dignam and Lindsey Condell, and BMP. A core of 34 played and both Terry Erraught of Aer Lingus and Martina Lajsalova played for 17 of the 24 hours.
"We've raised about €4,000 towards coaching and development and on buying equipment," says Doherty.
"The standard of our juniors has already improved because of the funding we can put into coaching."
This season, the club will have four teams playing -- men's and women's premier, women's first and second division and men's second division. New players are always welcome; for more info email firstname.lastname@example.org.