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Looking at the new BUCS volleyball premier leagues

On Wednesday the the final team for the 2014-15 BUCS premier league was determined when the Sussex women beat the ladies from Swansea in a 5-set play-off match. That gave Sussex two wins and first place in their 3-way round-robin, which also included Surrey (who Swansea had previously beaten). That means the women’s southern premier league for next season will comprise:

Bournemouth
Cambridge
Exeter
King’s College London
Oxford
Sussex

There was also a playoff on the men’s side. It was between Bath, Cambridge, and Warwick. There were two spots on offer because although 5 teams qualified by virtue of making Final 8s, UCL apparently declined the promotion (Imperial must have also declined as they should have been in the playoff as well by dint of their 3rd place finish in the South East conference). Bath lost both its matches, meaning the southern premier league for the guys next year will be:

Bournemouth
Cambridge
Cranfield
East London
Exeter
Warwick

Interestingly, Warwick was originally considered as being a northern team according to what BUCS posted earlier. Don’t know why that changed.

Although only the 3 teams from the Northern conference made Final 8s, and thus automatically achieved promotion to the northern premier league for next year, there was no playoff for the remaining spots. On the men’s side, since all three of the top finishers in the Midlands conference were considered southern teams, the three best teams from the Scottish conference fill out the 6 places, making it:

Durham
Edinburgh
Northumbria
Sheffield Hallam
St. Andrews
Strathclyde

On the women’s side, Loughborough finished 3rd in Midlands, so they should have joined the three Scottish teams – Edinburgh, St. Andrews, and Glasgow – in a 4-way playoff to determine who joined Northumbria, Durham, and Lancaster in the northern premier league. No such playoff happened, so one of those teams must have declined promotion. I don’t know which, though.

These new premier leagues pose some challenges. The map below shows the dispersion of the teams in the women’s southern league.

BUCS Volleyball Women's Southern Premier League 2014-15

I’m thinking right about now the planners aren’t too excited about having Exeter in the premier league given it’s location relative to the other schools. It’s over 4 hours drive between Exeter and Cambridge and more than 3 hours to most of the others. Even the trip to Bournemouth, which is Exeter’s closest opposition, runs about 2.5 hours. It’s not much different on the men’s side.

I talked with a couple of people at Final 8s about this stuff. It would make sense for the teams who have both men and women in the premier league to have both genders play on the same dates to simplify travel. We also talked about using triangulars or some other multiple match format to cut down on the travel. One coach suggested pairing schools for a Saturday/Sunday type of schedule.

Guess we’ll just have to wait and see what BUCS comes up with.

John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John currently coaches for an NCAA Division II women's team. This follows a stint as head coach for a women's professional team in Sweden. Prior to that he was the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women's Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

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