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Like everything else, the sport of volleyball in Exeter changes and evolves over time. Back in the late 80’s and 90’s there was no internet, press reports in the local newspapers were the only means of publicity, volleyball reports often appeared twice a week in the Exeter Express and Echo, as well as the EDVA, all the major clubs had their own press officers: Torexe, Wonford, Teignmouth & Exeter University etc. This gave the sport good exposure, looking back, it has also recorded some of our history and shows how the sport has changed in our area.

I have put a selection of press releases on line, as well as side out scoring and best of three sets to 15 points, you will also see that teams and leagues were often sponsored, that the EDVA has also covered quite a wide area at times, as well as teams from Teignmouth, Totnes, Cullompton, Tiverton, Honiton, we have also had teams from Minehead, Barnstable and Burnham involved.

The first Exeter Volleyball League was started in 1969 by C. Williams from the St David’s, Exeter YMCA. Nine team took part in the first year from:

  • John Stocker School
  • Exeter Fire Brigade A & B
  • St Luke’s College
  • Torquay Fire Brigade
  • ITCRM Lympstone
  • University of Exeter
  • YMCA A & B

We don’t know much about this league, if you have any information, we would like to hear from you.

Volleyball in Exeter, as we know it today started in 1984, before this period, the only volleyball clubs in the area that played competitive volleyball, were Exeter University, who played in the Southwest League and Torbay VC (from Paignton) who played in the Southwest and National league. In 1984, the Clifton Hill SC opened and a number of Coaver
Club teams (from the Devon County Council Offices) got together and took a weekly four hour Friday night booking. Initially they just played matches but they soon formed themselves into the “Clifton Hill” VC, the club entered it’s first team in the Plymouth & District mixed League for the 1985/86 league season, in 1986/87 the club entered the Plymouth and the Southwest Men’s league.

The Riverside Leisure Centre was also built during this period and opened in 1987, Torquay VC moved their National League matches from Paignton to the Riverside Leisure Centre. Later that year, the two clubs decided to combine, Clifton Hill VC changed it’s name to the Exeter VC and merged with the Torbay Volleyball Club, to form the Exeter & Torbay VC. The club competes under it’s short name of “Torexe”.

Sport centres were now being built all over East & South Devon and a number of players left Torexe to form their own clubs. Ian Williams started Teignmouth VC, Robin Delve moved to Cullompton (Cullompton VC) and Jerry Fardon started Wonford VC. With the addition of Ottery St Mary, a couple of prisons and Lympstone marines, the sport of Volleyball finally took off and in 1988, the Exeter & District VA was set up and ran a two division mixed league program with 14 teams. Their was no ladies league to start with, Exeter University continued to play in the Southwest league and Torexe Ladies joined the Plymouth Ladies League.

The number of teams and divisions in the EDVA changes each year and the ladies league comes and goes as required. The largest league program I believe, was 27 teams in 2002, which included a seven team ladies division. Back in the 80’s and early 90’s, teams and leagues were often sponsored, this was a good addition to the clubs accounts.

We also played in more leagues (Devon had three local leagues at one point), Torexe, Teignmouth and Wonford all had teams in the Plymouth mixed and ladies divisions as well as the EDVA. Torexe, Teignmouth and Exeter University also competed in the Southwest Men’s and Ladies leagues and Torexe had teams in both the men’s and ladies National Leagues.

A Snap Shot in Time

Our first press report – Express & Echo 1988 October:  The first season of the Exeter and District Volleyball League got off to an exciting start when Ottery St Mary met the Royal Marines. Ottery began brightly by taking the first eight points in the opening set but then the Marines made a canny substitution. Their big guns fought back to take that set and the next two to win 3-0. In the other first division match Teignmouth narrowly defeated Cuba Z 2-1.

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Among others things, I have also included press reports about the:

  • The first Exmouth Beach Tournament
  • Funds received for the EDVA volleyball centre at Exeter School
  • The start of the National League Ladies team
  • Start of the Exmouth Beach league
  • National Honors etc

Press reports were written by many people, Dave Reece, Martin Oram, Jerry Fardon, Nigel Weaver, Rick Partridge, Andy Pym, Rachel Swindell and many more. More press reports will be added (the more interesting one), as we track them down.

Regional Events

The Southwest Men’s league started in 1973 and the Southwest Ladies league was added in 1975, various local clubs have taken part over the years. Paignton were SW Men’s League Champions in 1979/80 and again in 1985/86 as Torbay, Exeter Heat took the title in 2002/03 and Torexe in 2005/06. In the ladies league, Teignmouth won the league in 1992/93 and Torexe in 1994/95, 1999/00 and again in 2011/12.

The South West Championships (first run in 1970/71) is an annual event which any team within the region can enter, local, regional and national league, the winner can claim to be the best team in the Southwest. Exeter University Men were SW champions in 1970/71 & 1971/72, Torexe in 2000/01 and 2011/12, Exeter Heat in 2002/03 & 2003/04, Devon Women were Ladies champions in 2003/04, 2010/11 and again in 2012/13.

There are a number of other minor regional events which take place in the Southwest, no local club has won the SW Veterans Tournament to date and I am not aware of any EDVA clubs entering the SW Inter League Trophy (last run in 1993). However local teams have had success in the SW Ladies Development Tournament (again not run since 1993) with Clifton Hill VC in 1987, Teignmouth in 1990 and Torexe in 1993.

Exeter Volleyball in the 70’s

The sport in the South West was given a boost when the new Sports Hall at Exeter University was opened in 1968, it provided a large (3-court) playing area for volleyball, the like of which had never been seen before in the South West and provided an excellent venue for hosting tournaments and league events. At the time, the vast majority of volleyball was played in school gyms (with low ceilings) or on outdoor courts.

The first Exeter Volleyball League was set up in 1970, in March that year, the South West Amateur Volleyball Association (now called the SWVA) ran an Invitation Tournament at Exeter University with some of the top teams in the country plus a Southwest regional side (drawn mostly from Devon & Somerset). The event saw a very exciting final between Southgate Technical College (British Champions 1967-68) and Spark London (British Champions 1969), the top two English teams at the time, the match was also shown on BBC TV. One of the Spark’s players at the time and who made the trip for this match was Arthur Mosley, now the Exeter Colledge / Exeter Storms Coach.

A week long Summer School was also run in Exeter, which provided an excellent opportunity to learn to coach volleyball, in was led by Mike Hibbert, Roy Pankhurst and Ken Harvey. Exeter University had won the inaugural SW Championships in 1971, with Ron Richards and Toomas Ojasoo (now EVA Chief Executive Officer) in the team. In 1972
a local league was also started in Taunton and Exeter University became UAU (University) Champions and gained promotion from National League Division Two South to National Division One (and unfortunately relegated the following year). In 1973, Exeter (a team made up from several clubs) won the SW Inter City Championships by beating Poole in the final.

It’s currently unclear what happened to the sport during the rest of the 70’s in Exeter (perhaps someone reading this will be able to add more to this item). In 1973, Bob Coombes, the former England captain moved to Paignton and establish the Paignton VC. In 1979 they were SW champions and progressed into the National League, they were sponsored by the TSB Bank for a period and made it into Division Two of the National League but by the mid 80’s they had changed their name to the Torbay VC and found themselves in Division four. As highlighted above, they formed the Torbay part of the Torexe Volleyball Club.

[Thanks to Ron Richards for the 1970 info, if you can add anything to the above, then please get in touch Dave.Reece@Network100.co.uk]

A number of us are also working with the British Volleyball Federation with respect to running the six volleyball events at the 2012 London Olympics.

A Selection of Match Reports

2010 +




2000 to 2010













1990 to 1999




























1985 to 1989













1970-72 Exeter Uni

1970-72 Exeter Uni

1970-72 Exeter Uni

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