UEL volleyball men's hopes of a first BUCS title blocked as champions defend crown
PUBLISHED: 16:30 23 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:11 10 April 2018
The University of East London men's volleyball team had to settle for runners-up medals in their first British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Championship final in Nottingham.
The side were looking to complete a double having won the BUCS Premier South, but despite a spirited display they were beaten in straight sets by defending champions Northumbria.
Coach Ian Legrand said: “It’s disappointing because I don’t think we played at the level we had against Durham University.
“We were playing a team that has several international players. They’ve been through this process a number of times and they’ve got the experience. We didn’t quite get our A-game.”
UEL started the opening set on the back foot, falling five points behind, but some crucial spikes from Austen Lovett and Andrew Whitt helped to overturn the deficit and level the score at 24-24.
UEL then looked to take command, but a service error put Northumbria ahead and they capitalised to win the set 26-24.
Coach Jefferson Williams added: “In that first set we missed a couple of serves at the wrong time. We had a guy serve down the line and out and another one that served long down to us. That changed the momentum a bit.
“Having said that, Northumbria probably had enough that even if we won the first set, they probably still would have had enough to ask us questions.”
Northumbria then cruised to a 25-15 second set and completed the win with a 25-12 third set and Williams added: “In the second set we definitely had some poor decisions that we made as a team. Players were doing things, for me, with no logic behind the decision that they were making.
“They ran away with it second set and after that the momentum kept building and we were always chasing.”
The UEL coaches have made significant progress since joining in December 2016 and when asked how they could build on this year, Williams said: “This is a first for UEL. We have moved on from where we were last season. It’s just a case of how we can build on this.”
Legrand added: “We have to take a slightly longer view of things and try and recruit a core of British players. Getting here today is going to help because people will see this is a serious programme and there’s some benefits of coming.”