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. In the mean time, though, the post-season gets underway soon (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 two 1st teams ended up 2nd in their respective leagues. In both cases it’s behind the same other university squad (same one who won both leagues last year as well). The guys ended 4-4 overall. It would be 6-4 if a team did not drop 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. Our set differential gives us the higher spot.

This is exactly where the men ended last season. That side, however, 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. Helping is the fact that the league was 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. I would rate the league stronger this year, at least at the top end.

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. Final finish in the playoffs determines those spots, but could require one or more playoff matches 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 move up 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 had some issues along the way and are in a lower mid-table position.

In other words, a lot of volleyball yet to be played!

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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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