An Overview of the Student Season
The SSS Beach Championships held at Portobello on 12th May marked the end of what has been a busy and competitive student season. Thirty one teams began their league campaign in their respective BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) leagues at the start of October, with Edinburgh Men’s 1st team finally finishing their indoor season on 2nd May losing 3-0 to Loughborough in their play-off match to remain in the top tier of student volleyball – the BUCS Premier League (North). Edinburgh Women’s 1st team fared better in their play-off fixture, beating Coventry 3-1 to ensure that they will once again be competing against the best teams in Britain next season.
The BUCS Tier 1 league titles in Scotland were claimed by St Andrews women and Strathclyde men while Heriot Watt Women and Stirling Men found themselves returning to the second tier of competition after propping up their respective leagues. Their places will be taken by Dundee women and Aberdeen men who both secured their league titles in emphatic style with an unbeaten record.
The Scottish Student Sport (SSS) Cup, held in February, is always an opportunity for lower tier teams to cause an upset and with Edinburgh Women 1st choosing not to defend their title this year, it looked as though the competition may have been set for lower placed league teams to make a move for the trophy. However St Andrews 1s had other ideas and beat nearest challengers, Aberdeen, 3-1 in a competitive final to claim a deserved league and Cup double. In the men’s Cup Final, St Andrews’ attempt to complete a unique men’s/women’s Cup Final double was derailed by a strong Glasgow team which won comfortably 3-0 to claim their first Cup victory in 16 years.
The SSS National College Finals, held at ORIAM on 2nd May, showcased the development of the sport within the college sector. Nine teams were involved in the initial entry, with Edinburgh College demonstrating their strength in winning both men’s and women’s trophies, beating Inverness and City of Glasgow respectively.
Selection for the SSS National Squads for men and women is the target for many of the top student players in Scotland, with talented players from numerous countries vying for selection. The women’s national squad travelled to Newcastle in April to play a high quality English Universities (North) team as well as a strong Newcastle University squad that were semi-finalists in this season’s BUCS Championships. Although going down 3-0 in both matches, the students finished their season on a winning note, beating a Scottish Under 23 team 3-0 in the annual Student Challenge match on the eve of the National Cup Finals in Edinburgh on 20th April. Thanks must go to Tom Rooney and Vince Krawczyk for their work with the SSS squad both in selection and training and also match coaching.
The men’s squad, coached by Bill Stobie, assisted by Doug Crockhart and managed by Oskars Makevics, sadly didn’t get the opportunity to test themselves against their English counterparts, but were involved in a competitive fixture with the Scottish U23 squad on the same evening in Edinburgh, eventually losing to 3-1. Once again thanks are due to Bill Stobie and his team for preparing and supporting the top student players. Work is currently underway to develop a more extensive programme of training and competition for the 18/19 season.
The student season drew to a close with a highly successful Beach Championship at Portobello on 12th May. Twenty eight men’s and women’s pairs battled it out on the Portobello sand in glorious weather, delivering a high standard competition which was an excellent showcase for student beach volleyball. The women’s final featured two St Andrews pairs – with last season’s winners, Menchetti & Greene, retaining their trophy, beating team mates Maxwell & Smith over three sets. While in the men’s final Strathclyde’s Corbige & Denchev were too strong for their Aberdeen opposition Kulpanowski & Billeau, winning in two sets.
The long summer vacation now beckons for our student players, but rest assured a new “Class of 2018/19” will be ready and eager to engage with volleyball in September. Thanks must go to the many committed and enthusiastic student club committee members who have invested so much in running their clubs and ensuring that volleyball remains one of the most popular sports within the student sector.