Sun 16 Feb 20
The Essex Blades men’s volleyball team retained their BUCS Premier League South Championship crown after beating the University of East London (UEL) in a 3-1 nail-biter.
The strength of the teams was shown by he fact each team had one player who has recently played in the European Champions League competitively.
UEL started strong in attack with a thunderous spike by Mihail Stoev, this put Essex on the back foot. Essex tried too hard to reply with a similar attack which resulted in a number of errors. After the introduction of final year student and Scotland international Conor Walker and American Tyler Farnung Essex started to find their rhythm and closed the gap but it was too little too late and UEL won the 1st set.
Essex reorganized it's starting line up in the 2nd set. This time around UEL was unable to deal with the speed and flexibility of the Essex attack. Essex pull away to a 5 point lead, each time UEL crept back into the game Essex would stamp their authority and regain the lead. Essex finished the set like they started, in a commanding way.
The 3rd and 4th sets played out in a similar fashion. UEL had flashes of brilliance but Essex showed why they are ranked number one in BUCS. They maintained their composure throughout, joint Player of the Match winners Marc McLaughlin and Tyler Farnung both played as attacker and setter depending on what made the team stronger at that moment in time. UEL couldn't compete with big hits from Jon Wheaton and Riley Friesen as Essex run away as 3:1 winners.
For the fourth year running the Essex women’s volleyball team finished second in the BUCS Premier League South Conference. Coincidentally also playing against UEL for second place, Essex ran out 3:0 winners to win a silver medal.
Essex started the game with an experimental line-up, after 10 points the crowd was on their feet as pike after spike rained down on UEL's defence. UEL went on a run of points as they mixed up their attack, but Essex was faster, more powerful and smarter with their play. 6ft3’ Nicole Bishop made huge impact in the net, UEL struggled to get through her block or dealing with the height she brought to the attack. Essex won the 1st set 25:22.
In set 2 and 3 UEL realised the difficult battle they were up against but admirably they never gave up. Each time Essex thought they had done enough their opponents they would hustle a point or two and give themselves some hope. This healthy competition arguably forced Essex Giants to push themselves harder. Liz Leahy and Ellie Cranch both put their bodies on the line to retrieve balls from near the hall, Essex demonstrated they have the power, control and the mindset that championship winning teams are made off. Essex won both sets to seal 2nd place in the BUCS Premier League South Conference