UFH - Volleyball - USSAs

Even though the Fort Hare men’s volleyball team stumbled over the last hurdle to finish runners-up at the University Sports South Africa national tournament, they achieved their initial goal of climbing the rankings.

The annual tertiary championship, hosted by the University of Limpopo in Mankweng recently, saw defending champions Vaal University of Technology defeat Fort Hare 3-0 in the final.

Team manager Hope Fata can only be satisfied with their performance, which included an unbeaten run to the final, after ending fourth in 2022.

The Eastern Cape outfit were outstanding in ousting Durban University of Technology 3-1 in the semi-finals to book their place in the grand finale.

“That was an important result for us because the Durban team had beaten us both times we played in recent years,” Fata said. “It was a boost for our confidence.”

The 20 men’s teams in the draw were divided into four pools, with the top two in each advancing to the quarters. Fort Hare booked their spot after going through the group phase unbeaten.

They defeated University of Zululand 2-0 in their first knock-out match to advance to the semis.

UFH - Volleyball - USSAs

Fort Hare’s men’s team returned with the silver medal from the University Sports SA volleyball tournament recently. Photo: Supplied

Fata can be forgiven if she feels a wee bit disappointed at not bringing the trophy home, but one can imagine she has a spring in her step instead after a vastly improved performance.

“We achieved our goal of moving up the rankings. The hard work paid off in the end,” she said.

This result would surely make Fort Hare a marked team in future and Fata said she hoped they would receive the necessary support to attend tournaments around the country.

“That sort of exposure will help us become one of the most competitive teams in South Africa.”

In an acknowledgement of Fort Hare’s depth, team members Musa Motihabane, Khanya Madikizela, Vuyolwethu Hlabiso and Aphelele Ntuli were named in the USSA team.

The women could not replicate the men’s success this time around and ended the group phase winless.

Despite their less than stellar performance, Qhayiya Nkohla and Fezeka Senzela caught the eye of the selectors and were included in the national team.

“Since last year a lot of teams have been gunning for Fort Hare due to our improvement, so now our focus is on maintaining, and even improving, our current level,” Fata said.