This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log.
The first order of business on the day was finding out the tiebreak procedure to be used in the case of a 3-way tie between teams in our group. As I noted in the last log entry, things were set up such that if we beat Bournemouth in our last match and King’s beat Cambridge, we would all be tied at 1-2 and level in the head-to-head comparison after having beaten each other.
Upon getting to the tournament site I asked the tiebreak question of one of the event managers. He said sets between the teams would be the next tiebreak. That meant if we won 2-0 we’d get second in the pool and a spot in the semifinals by virtue of being the only team among the three with a positive set differential.
I’d spoken with the captain about this prospect, but we both thought it was best not to say anything to the team. As I noted, there was already some signs the day before about getting a bit tense when things were on the line Saturday. The players already had enough motivation to draw on to get psyched up to want to beat Bournemouth. Adding a spot in the semis to that mix would have had nothing but downside to it.
I used the same line-up as the one which narrowly lost to Cambridge in the second match on Saturday. We got off to a good start in the first set and carried that through to a fairly comfortable win. The second set was much closer all the way through. We fell behind a bit, then dragged ourselves back level. The teams traded points for long stretches. At one point we missed 4 out of 6 serves, which irked me. In the end, though, we did managed to close it out and take the 2-0 win.
From there it was all about the King’s-Cambridge match. That one went 3, but King’s managed to win it in the end. We still hadn’t really said anything definitive to the players just in case I hadn’t understood the tiebreak procedure correctly. I was coaching the guys’ team in the 7th/8th playoff match when the team got the news they made the semis. Much celebration ensued! 🙂
Our semifinal opponent was Northumbria – defending BUCS champions. If anything, they looked a stronger team this year than the one I saw play a year ago. We didn’t stand a chance (only one other team in the competition did), so my focus was on getting playing time some way for all my bench players.
The first set had a very rough start. We gave up a string of points in a row with barely a challenge. I went with the starters to begin, and I honestly think they were a bit too keyed up for it. They knew what they were up against, but really wanted to make a few plays. Eventually, I was able to get them to settle down a bit during a timeout, but it was a rocky start and we never broke single digits. Northumbria used its bench in the second and I used all of mine as well. We managed to get I think 15 points in that one, so the team walked away happy.
We’ll have a couple of training session before the term ends, but this will be the last of log entries since the season is complete. After things have settled a bit I’ll post a season review with my thoughts on how it all went and what I thought of my coaching.