This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log.

First day of the BUCS Final 8s tournament in Edinburgh.

Our first match was against King’s College, first place team from the South Eastern conference. The team was in a pretty good mental space to start things off – maybe a bit of to-be-expected nerves at the start, but not scared at the occasion or the competition. We didn’t play poorly, but lost the first set by a reasonable margin. I made a couple of line-up shifts for the second – namely swapping our MBs in the rotation and bringing in a new OH. I think the latter was the more meaningful change as it injected some energy into things, which helped us win the second set. Unfortunately, King’s took the third. The team handled it well, but there wa a bit of tentativeness that worked its way into the team’s play in the latter stages which was a little concerning..

The second match was against Cambridge. We saw video of their first round match, so had an idea of what they were about. With Kings it was a “glad to be here” type of attitude in the team. With Cambridge, though, the focus shifted more to winning. That, I think, maybe led to a bit more mental pressure being felt by the group. They didn’t play with as much positive energy. It was a match of long rallies. We dropped the first set and struggled at the start of the second, but got in turned around and won that one. Unfortunately, we lost the 3rd.

At the end of the day we had a team meeting that focused on on-court energy. One of the players was really struggling with negative body language and poor energy. It was dragging on the team. Unfortunately, she wasn’t someone easily replaced in the starting lineup. A couple of the senior players had a lot of strongly worded comments on that, and we also talked about continuing to be aggressive and play positively.

We ended the day thinking we were going to play Bournemouth in our last pool match to determine 3rd/4th place, but I realized late we might still have a shot at 2nd. Bournemouth had beaten Cambridge the previous day, so if we beat them it would create a 3-way tie. I didn’t know the tiebreak procedure, though.

All-in-all, not a bad first day. We could have gotten a better result against Cambridge, but we were competitive in both matches. Coming from an attitude of having attained our primary season goal of reaching Final 8s and secondary one of showing we deserved we belonged, this was a solid outcome.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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