Thu 9 Mar 23
Back-to-back finals were secured by students in crunch home games yesterday – making them “once again the pride of Essex”.
The women’s basketball team triumphed in a rematch of last year’s final against Durham University and the men’s volleyball side vanquished the University of East London.
Now the Blades sides will compete in the prestigious BUCS Big Wednesday National Championship Final, the pinnacle of university sport.
The finals will unfold on March 21-22 at the University of Nottingham in front of a packed arena.
Dr Dave Parry, Director of Sport, said: “Our men's volleyball and women's basketball teams are once again the pride of Essex as they both achieve back-to-back appearances at BUCS Big Wednesday, the pinnacle of university sport in the U.K.
“Our student-athletes are incredibly dedicated in their dual pursuit of excellence in education and sport, and the trip to Nottingham for the finals is a just reward for months of hard work.
"Special praise is also due to Performance Volleyball Coach Alex Porter, and Ross Norfolk who stepped in to coach the women's basketball team after the departure of Tom Sadler - who I know was watching the live stream from Florida.
“Best of luck to both teams, and I know the whole Essex community will be rooting for them when they play in the finals in two weeks’ time.”
The basketball side triumphed in a rematch of last year’s final.
Essex started off strong by breaking into an early lead and maintaining a seven-point buffer going into half-time.
Durham fought back after the break hitting two three-points and levelled the score.
The blades, however, dug deep and showcased stunning end-to-end play for 40 minutes.
The game went down to the wire and a tense last minute with Essex finishing the game with a 74-70 win.
Coach Ross Norfolk, who took over the reins following Tom Sadler's departure, said: “We are excited to make the final back-to-back.
“The team dug deep and stayed composed at crucial moments of the game. We now continue to build as a unit and get prepared for Loughborough.”
The Essex Men's Volleyball side forced a fifth-set decider after giving up a 10-point lead in the first set to go down to a 2-0 deficit.
Coach Alex Porter’s side showed true grit to edge the third set 25-22 and raced out to an early lead in the fourth and never looked back.
Essex kept the momentum in the decider and took the final set decisively 15-6, securing their place in the BUCS Big Wednesday National Championship Final for the second year running.
Alex Porter said “I can honestly say that I have never been a part of a team that showed that much character.
“The fight and hustle that each and every player showed today to bring that back is a testament to all the hard work we put in each and every day.”