GB volleyball team get helping hand

The Great Britain women's volleyball team have been thrown an unusual lifeline as they bid to reach their peak form at London 2012.

The self-funded team, who will represent Britain for the first time at an Olympic Games this summer, have taken up residence at a South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue training base in Sheffield to allow them to train at the nearby English Institute of Sport.

Audrey Cooper's squad looks to be benefiting from the extra time spent together after they came from behind to beat Peru 3-2 earlier this month - no mean feat against a side ranked 52 places above them in the world standings.

GB libero Maria Bertelli said: "They've been absolutely fantastic. South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue came forward and have offered us an absolutely brilliant deal here in terms of accommodation, food and providing us with an environment that allows us to purely focus on performance over this really important time.

"It's really all about going training coming back, recovering, getting ready to go training again with the odd bit of fun and happiness in there as well."

The gutsy performance against Peru was a huge step forward, and Bertelli hopes to make similar strides in two further international fixtures next month. The British women will take on Algeria in Sheffield at the end of June, with another opponent yet to be confirmed.

"We had a fantastic win [against Peru]," Bertelli said. "Peru are now playing in the final Olympic qualification tournament.

"They've just taken a win and they're competing with the best in the world, so for us to beat them 3-2 in a really tight game was a great game.

"The Olympics is the best 12 teams in the world so you're not going to go in there - a country that's never played in the Olympics - and say: 'We're going to do this, we're going to do that.'

"But what we've shown over the past four years is that we can compete with world teams, so there's no reason why we can't go and put that onto the court in London."