University of Nottingham’s Men’s volleyball team wrapped up the proceedings perfectly at the BUCS Big Wednesday finals taking a historic national title in front of a home crowd – their first national championship in 17 years.
The players thrilled a sell-out crowd of Green and Gold fans, powering past opponents Essex in a comprehensive 3-1 victory at Jubilee sports centre and topping a spectacular BUCS Big Wednesday event for the University of Nottingham.
The final match across all the BUCS Big Wednesday events, the Men’s Volleyball final was one of the hottest tickets of the day with crowds building up early. Nottingham went in as the underdogs, but with the team’s not having faced each other in recent seasons it was tough to call who would triumph.
In the first set, Nottingham looked supremely confident and unfazed by the wall of noise from the sidelines. Goalen, Lucas and Santoyo took it in turns to rain attacks down on their opponents with little answer. In complete contrast, Essex looked nervous and slow to react. They struggled to find any answer for Nottingham’s aggressive serving and attacking with their block looking stretched and back court defence shaky. Within less than 20 minutes the set went to Nottingham – 25-11.
The Green and Gold carried the momentum into the second set but Essex had also woken up and started to trade points and organise their block to shut out the Nottingham wing. Some controversy with a line call looked like it may throw Nottingham but Goalen stepped up to kill a trio of balls and force an Essex time out at 14-11. Nottingham simply didn’t ease up, serving huge jump balls and preventing Essex from building any attacks in return. The set again fell to Nottingham – 25-18 – as the roar from the crowd became deafening.
Essex weren’t going to let UoN have it all their own way, however. At the change of ends they looked determined especially their #7 Chambers who placed his attacks expertly. Clever serves pushed Goalen and Lucas back, limiting setter and playmaker Adam Adie’s options on the wing. A few uncharacteristic errors between the Nottingham players gifted Essex set point and then the set 21-25 much to the delight of the large contingent of travelling fans.
Any thoughts of a five set thriller were quickly shut down by Nottingham, who were eager to seal their first national title for 17 years. Noah Goalen, who’d had an outstanding game throughout, served Nottingham into a 10-2 lead within minutes. Perhaps the play of the match saw Lucas rise up solo on the wing to block and shut out Essex – 12-4 – the volume couldn’t get much louder. Nottingham stayed calm and looed untouchable – Essex had just reached 10 when another error gifted the home side 14 match points. They needed just one – Adam Adie cleverly placed the ball over short on the second touch to find a gaping hole in his opponent’s front court and setting off the celebrations!
Final result: University of Nottingham win 3-1: 25-11, 25-18, 21-25, 25-10.
University of Nottingham squad: Rayyan Akram, Reuben Fernandes, Iraj Bugarib Batista Safaee, David Hodson, Ben Lucas, Noah Goalen, Adam Adie, Tristan Santoyo, Shahrouz Farhadi, Ben Gladstone, Charlie Flanders, Matthew Urry.
Head of Performance Volleyball and head coach, Freddie Fairbairn, commented:
“Our side out percentages set us apart. We’re an aggressive team, we serve hard and it paid off for us. Every single player made a big impact on court and as a squad to the whole set up here at the club. The progress we’ve made to get to this point this year has been incredible – it was truly professional performance.”
Ben Lucas, Men’s captain and Player of the Match, told us;
“We’ve been training so hard for this, working together as a team and everyone pulled through today. The way we gelled on court today won the game - roll on next year!”
Co-captain Adam Adie added;
“The crowd were unbelievable and the atmosphere was electric – a huge thank you to everyone who came out to support us!”
The season isn’t yet over for the squad however as they quickly turn their attention to promotion into the Super League – Volleyball England’s top division in the National League. They currently sit second in Division 1 and after tonight will be one of the hot favourites to go up.
Missed the game? Watch the full stream back now on You Tube.
For more information about performance sport at the University of Nottingham, visit www.nottingham.ac.uk/sport/performance.
Posted on Thursday 24th March 2022