UEL miss out on BUCS Championship volleyball title but still make history
UEL men's volleyball team compete in first ever BUCS Championship final but go down in straight sets
The University of East London Men's Volleyball Team finished runners-up in their first ever British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Championship Final following a straight-sets defeat to Northumbria University at the University of Nottingham.
The side were looking to complete a domestic double, having won the BUCS Premier South. But, despite a spirited performance in the final, they were well beaten against last season's tournament champions.
UEL coach Ian Legrand said, “It's disappointing because I don't think we played at the level we had last week [against Durham University].
“We were playing against 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 today."
UEL started the opening set on the back foot, falling five points behind their opponents. But some crucial spikes from Austen Lovett and Andrew Whitt helped in overturning the deficit to level the scores at 24 apiece.
UEL then looked to take command in the set but a service error put Northumbria ahead and their more experienced opponents capitalised to win the first set 26-24.
Coach Jefferson Williams, "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 and that probably changed the momentum a little 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 second set with a 25-15 scoreline.
Williams said, "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 third set was comfortable for Northumbria, who won 25-12 to claim the victory.
Coaches Legrand and Williams have made significant progress since joining in December 2016, winning a first ever league title this season and helping the side finish runners-up in the final.
Asked how the side could build on their second-place finish, 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 that he wanted to stabilise the team by recruiting more home-grown undergraduate players.
"We have to take a slightly longer view of things and try and recruit a core of British players,” he said. Getting here today is going to help because people will see this is a serious programme and there's some benefits of coming."