The Madibaz men’s and women’s volleyball teams will be looking to book their spot at the national student championships when they compete in the Ussa Eastern Cape league qualifiers at Rhodes University in Grahamstown on Saturday.

Starting at 9am, the NMMU sides will face off against teams from Walter Sisulu University’s East London and Ibika campuses as well as hosts Rhodes in their quest to win the provincial leg.

The Port Elizabeth-based students will have added incentive to progress through to the national champs as these take place on their home courts between June 29 and July 3.

Men’s captain Andrew Witte said although the make-up of the Madibaz teams had changed over the past few years, he believed that this year’s squad was the strongest the university had put together since 2011.

“Team spirit is high among the players and in the club in general. I see a lot of dedication and commitment in both sides.”

Witte said the men aimed to improve on their performances over the past two years, which saw them placing outside the top 10 in the national tournament on both occasions.

“As a team we feel that we would need to place at least in the top five at nationals, especially as the tournament will be on home ground this year.”

He said competition would be tough, with the universities of Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town as well as Vaal University of Technology bringing a high standard of volleyball this year.

The Madibaz men have also been performing well so far this season and are currently second on the Ussa provincial log.

“This isn’t a true reflection of the capabilities of our team. We can play better and we aim to prove this on Saturday,” said Witte.

The 23-year-old masters student said standout players to watch were Jonas Schröder, who represented South Africa in the FIVB World Tour Beach Volleyball competition last year, and new inclusions Manuwwar Begg and Kima Luma.

On the women’s side, Madibaz captain Eufemia Le Roux said her players were training hard to perform at their best in the qualifying tournament.

“Our side is a competitive one that doesn’t give up easily even when there is the possibility of defeat.

“We are constantly striving to enhance our performance and I think that is what sets us apart as a team.”

Le Roux said the women’s division had become increasingly competitive over the years and NMMU would face tough opposition on both a provincial and national level.

“Obviously, taking gold is every competing team’s objective but we will be taking it one game at a time and just do our best to get results.”

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The Madibaz men’s and women’s volleyball teams are set to compete in the Ussa Eastern Cape league qualifiers at Rhodes University in Grahamstown on Saturday. Photo: Supplied

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Madibaz Sport