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Reasons to be Proud - #R2bP: The Madibaz women’s volleyball team supplied two players to the University Sports South Africa (USSA) team to underline their growing status as an outfit to be taken seriously.


Madibaz volleyball star Sanelisiwe Shiyani was named most valuable player at the University Sports SA tournament in Mankweng recently. She and teammate Irene Phiri were also named in the national squad. 

It was a proud moment for Mandela University when Sanelisiwe Shiyani – voted the most valuable player of the tournament – and Irene Phiri were called up to the squad following the recent USSA tournament in Mankweng.

Besides producing star players, the depth of Mandibaz side also seems to be improving after placing 13th out of 21 teams. In 2022, they could only muster 14th in a draw of 15.

Madibaz won the Youth Tournament NMBVA in Kariega earlier this year and that provided a launching pad to the national tertiary championships, coach Nolan Bentley said.

“Our goal was to make sure we continued to improve our performances and I believe we achieved that,” he said.

The way the players found something extra in the face of adversity was especially encouraging for him.

“At times, when we were down in a match, you could see the team’s morale drop a bit. Yet, each time they fought their way out of that hole, sometimes coming from nowhere to win that game,” he said.

“Just amazing.”

He had special praise for Sanelisiwe, who shone in her role as libero – a defensive specialist.

“It was great to have the most valuable player as one of our own. Her strength is her ability to pull off saves that most others give up on.

“That’s what make her stand out,” he said.

Bentley was also proud that they doubled their national representatives from 12 months ago.

“To be selected for the national universities team a player has to stand out as a skilful individual. They need to have mastered the role they are required to fulfil while consistently performing at a high level.”

He said representing one’s varsity and country were some of the highest accolades that could be bestowed on a student-athlete.

The most valuable player award came out of the blue for Shiyani.

“I didn’t expect it because a libero has never received it, and we usually see the most valuable player coming from a team who have reached the final. To be recognised in that way was just exceptional and I couldn’t hold back the tears.”

It had been her first award at the USSAs and the compliments received from other coaches and players meant a lot to her, she confessed.

“In receiving that award the quote ‘it’s never impossible until it’s done’ came to mind and really showed that my hard work had paid off.”

Being named in the SA universities squad for the second year running was the cherry on top.

“I was over the moon at my selection and seeing things come together to make my dreams a reality.”

Bentley said the team’s performance would motivate them to continue improving.

His plan now for Madibaz Volleyball is to turn more players into high-value student-athletes so that they can compete consistently with the best institutions on the sports field and in academics.

At the USSAs, the Madibaz competed in pool D alongside five other teams. They defeated Rhodes, Central University of Technology and Wits to finish third in their section.

They lost in the playoffs but defeated the University of Mpumalanga to secure their final overall position.

Contact information
Mr Riaan Osman
Deputy Director
Tel: 041 504 2170