Fri 22 Mar 19
Our men’s volleyball team have made history in becoming the first Essex team to reach the British University and Colleges (BUCS) ‘Big Wednesday’ final.
They secured this monumental achievement with a 3-0 semi-final victory over Northumbria University, the reigning champions, in front of over 100 fans. Now Essex will take on Durham University on Wednesday 27 March.
BUCS is the national governing body for university sports in the United Kingdom, and hosts many prestigious competitions across a variety of sports.
BUCS Big Wednesday is the culmination of our team sport league programme and the event will see over 60 of the UK's top university teams head to Nottingham to compete for Championship and Trophy titles.
The Essex team is coached by Alex Porter, former captain of Team GB’s volleyball team who also managed Team GB in the 2012 European championships.
Alex said: “I’m immensely proud of what the squad achieved not only today but throughout the season so far and what we will achieve in two weeks’ time. On the first day of preseason we set our sights on winning BUCS gold, each student-athlete pushes themselves and their team mates every day to improve. This relentless pursuit of excellence is what makes us who we are and will define our legacy.”
The men’s volleyball team are in good form, and spirits should be high heading into the final having won each of their previous six fixtures. London 2012 Olympian Mark Plotyczer and Scottish international Marc McLaughlin led the team to victory with their powerful serves and clever attacking.
Alex emphasised that players were making incredible progress this season: “The way Marc has progressed is unreal. He started the year as the back-up setter and now commands the starting setter role.
“Ryan Vorderer came to Essex as a libero (defensive specialist) and he has come on leaps and bounds and is now one of the best outside attackers in the country.
“Ali Ahmed gained his 1st England cap shortly before coming to Essex and was Mahlon King’s (the other England libero) understudy at the beginning of the season, Mahlon got injured and Ali stepped up. Ali has a bright future ahead of him, especially as he is a freshman.”
The women’s’ volleyball team have also had a strong season, but were defeated having also progressed through to the semi-final, losing 3-1 to the reigning champions, Durham.
Not all is doom and gloom, the women lost the first set, but from the second set onwards actually managed to outscore the reigning champions, although the experience of Durham ultimately prevailed.
Alex said: “The squad and I are disappointed with today’s loss, not upset, just disappointed. We made massive gains on and off the court, as individuals and as a team, with another week or two of training we feel that the result would have been on our side.”
He added: “Durham has been ranked number one all season and for us to go toe to toe with them demonstrates that the work these student-athletes are doing is taking them in the right direction. We will regroup and rebuild for next year but this squad will always have a special place in history.”
This article was written by Conor O’Mahony, a Multimedia Journalism student at Essex.