Stage 1 of the BUCS season is over for 3 out of the 4 university teams I coach after the men’s 1st team played last night. The men’s 2nd team will still play 3 more matches at some point yet to be scheduled, but in the mean time the post-season will get underway (Division 2 teams – which includes both men’s and women’s 2nd teams – play in a cup competition which is not linked to league performance rather than a proper post-season).
The regular season for the two 1st teams sees both of them ending 2nd in their respective leagues, in both cases behind the same other university squad (same one who won both leagues last year as well). The guys ended 4-4 overall, which would have been 6-4 had a team not dropped from the league just last week. The teams that are finishing 2nd-4th all split with each other and lost both matches to the top team. One of them had an administrative point deduction, however, leaving us in a 2-way tie with the other and our set differential gives us the higher spot. This is exactly where the team ended last season, but that side went 8-2 with their only losses coming to the league champs. We lost most of that squad at the end of last year, so we knew it was going to be more of a struggle this season. To be honest, I thought we’d struggle to just qualify for Championships. We’ve been helped by the fact that the league has been a bit weaker this year.
As for the women, they went 8-2 overall. They split their matches with the other two top teams in the league and were unfortunate to lose out on 1st place through a tiebreak. This represents a significant improvement over the team’s 4-6 performance last year, and in a league that at least at the top end I would rate as stronger.
Both men and women now await their Championship first round playoff match-ups. Those should come out early next week. By coming 2nd rather than 3rd we should miss out on having to play the very top teams, but aside from that we don’t have a good idea of who we’ll play. There is also the question of elevation to the new BUCS Premier Leagues for next season. Those spots are based on final finish in the playoffs, but could require one or more playoff matches to be decided in the case of ties.
The women’s 2nd team looks to be taking 2nd in their Division 2 league. The guys 2nds are currently 3rd in the table, but with the potential to move up. Nominally, the 1st place teams in Division 2 are promoted to Division 1 next year, but the introduction of the premier leagues next season muddles that picture at this point. That means it’s possible that our 2nds end up promoted to Division 1 even without winning Division 2.
Both men and women continue to also compete in the South West regional club league. The women currently sit 3rd with their only losses coming to the top two teams. The guys have had some issues along the way and are stuck in a lower mid-table position.
In other words, a lot of volleyball yet to be played!