Last weekend the Exeter University men’s and women’s volleyball teams competed in the BUCS Final 8s in Edinburgh, taking home 7th and 3rd place finishes respectively. For the men the result was an improvement on their 2013 finish, despite returning only three players.
On the women’s side, a mere two years removed from being in the second division, just reaching the Final 8s was the best the club has done in many years. The combined performance of the two teams in Scotland made 2013-14 among the top seasons for Exeter volleyball, if not the best ever.
The men entered Final 8s as distinct underdogs in the field. They lost their group play matches to East London, University College London, and Bournemouth, putting them in the 7th/8th playoff match. There they faced a much bigger Durham squad, but size proved no matter. The guys upset their northern foes to better last year’s 8th place.
Men’s team captain Nikos Konstantinidis commented, “Making it to the Final 8s was a success both for the team and the club. The men’s standard of volleyball in Edinburgh was high as expected (most of the other teams were composed of sports scholars) and winning the game for the 7th position against Durham University was very pleasing, as we were the underdogs of the whole tournament.”
Very helpful to the men was the extremely vocal support from the women’s team. “The atmosphere created by the girls during the men’s playoff was felt by the audience in the balcony and brought the club closer together,” remarked club co-captain Ali Borland.
The men returned the favour in support the women when it was their turn. Team captain Mathilde Pavis commented, “They gave us the loudest and strongest support I have ever heard and seen in any competition I have been part of.”
This helped considerably as the ladies battled through a tightly contested group, losing to King’s College and Cambridge in very close matches, then beating Bournemouth. Their competitiveness earned them second place and a spot in the semifinals by virtue of a tiebreak. There they lost to defending champions Northumbria, but nevertheless walked away from the tournament happy.
Pavis related, “One referee came to me after our first game and said ‘I don’t think I have ever seen teams happier to be in the Final 8s than you.’ To me, it says it all. Seventh and third in the Final 8s were well-deserved rewards for the players, for the captains, for the coaches, for the past and present committee as well as for the whole club.”
“I am so proud to see the success of both teams and that we could experience and support each other at Final 8’s in Edinburgh,” beamed Borland. “The hard work all year round and our carefully planned training sessions by our coach – John Forman – paid off.”
“Sweat, blood and tears provided the best weekend of volleyball, playing against amazing volleyball stars and bonding with my talented teammates. This weekend has been the highlight of my year as captain and it created so many unforgettable memories.”
The strong performances at Final 8s puts Exeter in position to finish in the top 3 in BUCS volleyball points for the year. An excellent result for a club without benefit of sports scholars or being a high performance programme!
John Forman, EUVCbookmark me