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Student Season Reaches Half Way Point

With the first semester of the academic year over what does the mid-season “report card” look like for student volleyball as we move into 2019?

On the numbers front, student volleyball has never been healthier: 33 university teams from 13 institutions are currently competing in BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) Leagues, with additional activity taking place beneath this level, within colleges.

At the top level of domestic student competition, Scotland’s only representatives – Edinburgh University Women – are holding their own in the BUCS Premier League (North) against some of the best teams in Britain.  Lying in fourth place, the Edinburgh students have managed 2 wins from 8 and are competing well against their English opponents.

Competition is tight within the Scottish leagues, with Edinburgh and Glasgow sharing top spot in men’s Tier 1, although with a game in hand Edinburgh will claim a slight edge at this stage of the season.  Aberdeen and St Andrews prop up the league with one win apiece and their return fixture will be all-important in deciding who will make the drop into Tier 2.  It is highly likely that the relegated team will pass Stirling University on the way up from Tier 2, with the Stirling students still unbeaten after 5 fixtures and having beaten their nearest challengers, Glasgow Caledonian, 3-1 in their last fixture before Christmas.

In a competitive women’s competition, St Andrews sit top of Tier 1, unbeaten after 5 matches.  However Glasgow are hot on their heels and with St Andrews only edging their West coast rivals 3-2 in their first fixture, the second half of the league season should be a hotly contested affair, with Edinburgh Napier still harbouring hopes of a first league title since 2012.  Despite taking at least a set from all of their matches to date, Dundee, with no wins to their name as yet, have a lot to do to stay up in Tier 1 following their promotion last season.

Stirling men’s successful season is being replicated by their women’s team who are also unbeaten after 6 matches, with Edinburgh II and Heriot Watt the only likely challengers in the second half of the season.  It is good to see the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) – which has firmly established a volleyball club in the last couple of seasons - putting out both a men’s and women’s team this season, both of which are having success in their respective leagues.

It is also heartening to see Scottish Universities enjoying success in the knock out rounds of the British Universities Trophy against English opposition – Aberdeen, Glasgow Caledonian, Edinburgh Napier and Glasgow women all progressing to the Last 16 stage of their competition, while Aberdeen, Glasgow and Strathclyde men have also won through to their next round on 6th February.

League competition resumes at the start of February, while the main domestic competition – the Scottish Student Cup – takes place on Sunday 3rd February at both Strathclyde (Men) and Dundee (Women) universities. This is the only opportunity in the calendar when student teams at all levels can compete against one another for the title of Scotland’s top student team and with the semi-finals and Final being played on Sunday 10th February at Dundee University as alongside the Grand Prix Finals, there is added motivation for the teams to make it through to the last four.

So, student volleyball is in very good health going into the festive break and the start of 2019 should see some excellent competition in the student sector.  We’ll keep you updated!!