BUCS Championship Finals Tournament 2001-2 

Pool Match 1 - Blues vs Manchester
Pool Match 2 - Blues vs Glasgow
Pool Match 3 - Blues vs Birmingham
Semi Final - Blues vs Hallam
BUSA Championship Final - Blues vs L'boro

Cambridge Men's volleyball team proved themselves as the best student volleyball team in Britain yesterday as they crushed home side Loughborough University in a thrilling final to win the BUSA National Championships. The match was the Blues' 16th successive victory and completed a unique treble-winning season which also saw them win the EVA Student Cup and the Varsity Match. The Blues had also defeated eventual BUSA Shield winners Coventry University in a friendly match earlier in the week, proving beyond any doubt that Cambridge Men are the premier side in the nation.

The Blues arrived in Loughborough on the Friday evening with the intention of settling down in their B&B prior to their first match, however a desperate struggle with the Loughborough town centre one-way system saw them arrive at the University only just in time to register at 5pm. The team had been drawn in what looked like the more difficult of the two pools alongside defending champions Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester, and settled down to watch Loughborough, the previous year's beaten finalists, edge victory against Bristol before taking to the court themselves to face Manchester.

Pool Match 1 

Blues 2-0 Manchester University (25-20, 25-17)

Although Ken Kato had shown exceptional form in recent matches and had started the Varsity game, Cambridge coach Dr Richard White sent out his EVA championship-winning line-up to begin the quest for the BUSA title. Thus Roger Konrad set with Dan Roy opposite, Andy Lynn and Pierre Briguet-Lamarre on the outside, Dan Escott and Jean Jacquet in the middle and Denis Zuev as libero. Manchester were very much an unknown quantity for the Blues' first match, and despite an extended warm-up session Cambridge were slow coming out of the blocks as the game began. The Northerners' star hitter, Italian Serie C player Simone Babuin proved a persistent threat out of the backrow, but a good run of serves from Jean Jacquet saw the Blues pull clear to take game one 25-20.

Although always too strong for Manchester, Cambridge were well below their usual form with Briguet-Lamarre and Jacquet uncommonly ineffective in attack. Coach White was forced into a time-out at 10-9, and brought on Soren Koeppe and Ken Kato before the match was finally secured 25-17. Koeppe provided a moment of mirth mid-set when White turned to the bench to ask him to warm up in readiness to take to the court, only to find that the middle blocker had wandered off to an adjacent court to chat up one of the Oxford ladies' team.

Cambridge were slated to referee the next match on court, and were delighted to find that Glasgow's defence of the BUSA title had been weakened by a fixture clash with a Scottish National Championship game which would see them lose two of their best players. Indeed, Birmingham opened their tournament by defeating the Scots without needing their own star player, Cypriot international Andreas Nikiforou, although ominously for the Blues he was due to appear for the Saturday matches. Both Cambridge teams were in fine form as they adjourned for a night out at a nearby curry house, with the ladies having put in an excellent performance to beat Edinburgh in a tiebreak set in their first game.

NamePositionSets PlayedAttacksKillsKill PercentAcesBlocks Total Points
Pierre Briguet-Lamarre O 2 6 2 33 0 0 2
Dan Escott M 2 5 3 60 0 1 4
Jean Jacquet M 2 3 0 0 0 0 0
Ken Kato O 2 2 1 50 0 1 2
Soren Koeppe M 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Roger Konrad S 2 1 0 0 1 0 1
John Lin U 1 0 0 0 0 0
Andrew Lynn O 2 16 6 38 1 1 8
Quentin Ramasse O 2 0 0 0 0 0
Anthony Reynolds O 2 2 0 0 0 0 0
Dan Roy U 2 15 8 53 2 2 12
Denis Zuev Lib 2 0 0 0 0 0
Team Total 51 20 39 4 5 29

Pool Match 2 

Blues 2-0 Glasgow University (25-14, 25-17)

Cambridge arrived at the venue at 9am in time for the first match of the day, and saw home side Loughborough put in an impressive performance to thump a below par Kent side. The Blues took to the court immediately afterwards to face defending champions Glasgow who, although not at full-strength, nevertheless fielded two powerful outside hitters. Cambridge, however, were much improved on their previous evening's performance, and took an early lead behind Pierre Briguet-Lamarre's jump serve. Dan Roy excelled in attack, but also surprised everyone with a magnificent dig of a full-blooded line spike from Glasgow's Ondrej Hajdusek. A stuff block from Escott and a thunderous line shot from Andy Lynn brought the Cambridge bench to their feet, and even setter Roger Konrad got in the mood as he thumped down an overpass as the Blues cruised to a 25-14 game one win.

Cambridge started game two less impressively, and some poor passing saw the Scots take the lead before Briguet-Lamarre extended his haul of aces to a record-equalling seven as the Blues began to pull away. Another straight-down line kill from Lynn marked the end as Cambridge secured the match 25-17, but qualification from their pool was not assured as Manchester staged a remarkable recovery to upset Birmingham. The Blues entered their final pool game knowing that only a win would guarantee their place in the semi-finals.

NamePositionSets PlayedAttacksKillsKill PercentAcesBlocks Total Points
Pierre Briguet-Lamarre O 2 4 3 75 7 0 10
Dan Escott M 2 4 2 50 0 2 4
Jean Jacquet M 2 3 0 0 1 3 4
Ken Kato O 2 0 0 0 1 1
Soren Koeppe M 1 0 0 0 0 0
Roger Konrad S 2 1 1 100 0 0 1
John Lin U 2 0 0 0 0 0
Andrew Lynn O 2 12 8 67 1 0 9
Quentin Ramasse O 2 0 0 0 0 0
Anthony Reynolds S 2 0 0 0 0 0
Dan Roy U 2 12 7 58 3 0 10
Denis Zuev Lib 2 0 0 0 0 0
Team Total 36 21 58 12 6 39

Pool Match 3 

Blues 2-0 Birmingham University (25-17, 25-20)

With a place in the final four at stake, Cambridge faced a Birmingham side now at full-strength after the arrival of Cypriot Nikiforou, and eager to avenge their shock defeat against Manchester. The previous two matches between these two teams' best line-ups had both gone to a tiebreak set, and the Blues were clear that this would be no easy game. Indeed Birmingham immediately outfoxed Cambridge with two changes made specially for this match; firstly Nikiforou lined up at opposite instead of his customary outside position, and secondly setter Ludo Bonnet unveiled a jump serve to take the opening two points. The Blues soon found their feet, however, and Dan Escott was lethal through the middle as his side moved into the lead. The Cambridge block forced Bonnet to rely on difficult sets to his star hitters, but even they were powerless to prevent the Blues taking game one 25-17.

Birmingham had dropped game one only to come back in the two previous encounters with the Blues, however, and looked like repeating the trick as they surged to a 5-2 lead to force Cambridge coach White to call time-out. Thereafter Briguet-Lamarre's jump serve got his team back on track, and another line cannon from Andy Lynn and roof block from Dan Escott put the Blues into the lead. Dan Roy then stole the show as he ended the match with a remarkable run of seven kills, and a huge shutdown block on Birmingham no. 9, Fiorio. A 25-20 scoreline saw Cambridge reach the semi-finals for only the second time in their history, whilst Birmingham were granted a reprieve as Glasgow's victory over Manchester enabled them to qualify on set difference. Group B was also decided thus, as Sheffield Hallam improved almost beyond recognition from a side which had looked feeble in succumbing to Kent on the Friday to defeat Loughborough in straight sets. Kent could not beat Bristol to force their way into the top two, so it was Hallam who took runners-up spot and the privilege of facing Cambridge in Sunday's first semi-final.

NamePositionSets PlayedAttacksKillsKill PercentAcesBlocks Total Points
Pierre Briguet-Lamarre O 2 11 5 45 2 3 10
Dan Escott M 2 4 3 75 0 2 5
Jean Jacquet M 2 3 2 67 1 0 3
Ken Kato O 2 0 0 0 0 0
Roger Konrad S 2 0 0 0 0 0
John Lin U 1 0 0 0 0 0
Andrew Lynn O 2 20 10 50 1 0 11
Anthony Reynolds S 2 1 0 0 0 0 0
Dan Roy U 2 13 8 62 0 3 11
Denis Zuev Lib 2 0 0 0 0 0
Team Total 52 28 54 4 8 40

Coach White on the pool stages: "When we saw the draw we felt that we had the tougher pool, so it was some relief for us to find that Glasgow were not at full-strength. We started slowly against Manchester and were a little better against Glasgow, but the Birmingham game really saw us find some form. Our block and defence were good and all the hitters were making kills. Regarding the semi-final, I would rather have faced Kent than Sheffield Hallam. Hallam looked very impressive in beating Loughborough and in Alex Porter have a player who can be unstoppable on his day. Having said that, the whole team felt we were improving with every match and confidence was very high."

Previous Cambridge Men's teams had been characterised by their alcoholic excesses upon reaching the final stages of weekend tournaments, hence it was undoubtedly a delight to their coach that most of his team were so conscientious that not only did they abstain from drinking to the point of unconsciousness, but they even decided that the reservations made at a Chinese restaurant did not provide an appropriate dietary preparation for the next day. An Italian take-away was thus deployed, and both Cambridge teams then went off suitably-nourished to the tournament party at the University Towers bar.

The Blues arrived too late to see an impromptu strip show performed by the sumptuous French hunks of the Bristol Men's team, who disappointed the assembled crowd by not going all the way to the Full Monty, but in plenty of time to see a similar performance from two members of the Glasgow Men's team, who simply disappointed the assembled crowd. The usual mixture of drinking and dancing went on well beyond midnight but under the supervision of team coaches Richard White and Jon Clarke, who were careful to make sure that none of their players went to the bar without buying a drink for their coaches. All of the teams were represented in some capacity, with the Loughborough Men's team valiantly doing their best to boost flagging soft drinks sales, whilst the Oxford women courageously cast aside centuries of tradition by dragging their Cambridge male counterparts onto the dancefloor at every opportunity. Everyone who saw him agreed that Scrumpy Jack-fuelled Soren Koeppe certainly was "The One and Only" as he lurched around the floor vaguely in time with the beat of the Chesney Hawkes classic, whilst Andy Lynn's Student Cup MVP award, supercharged hitting and matinee idol good looks had clearly seen him marked him down as a target for several potential admirers during the course of the evening. For their boogeying ability and sheer willingness to tear up the floor it would be hard to choose between Sandra Sudhoff, Nadia von Maltzahn and Janice Pedersen as the Dancing Queen, although the title could equally be given to Mathias Klaeui.

Semi Final 

Blues 2-0 Sheffield Hallam University (25-23, 25-21)

The 9am game on Sunday saw Cambridge take on their nemesis, Sheffield Hallam. Five times in recent years the Blues had drawn Hallam during the final stages of an EVA or BUSA tournament, and the Sheffield side had triumphed in all five matches. The 2002 Hallam side contained three of Cambridge's past tormentors, with the main threat being posed by the combination of 2.02m England international Alex Porter and a one-time Malaysian international setter very capable of finding him. Hallam had their usual contingent of very vocal supporters, and could also count upon the backing of the Loughborough side in their renditions of the now legendary "Boing, boing, Sheffield Hallam" mantra.

Hallam's game plan was immediately obvious: set Porter. The Blues struggled as he responded by killing almost at will, and adding two huge stuff blocks on Roy and Briguet-Lamarre for good measure. Cambridge fell behind to force a time-out from White with the deficit 11-15, but thereafter scored points on serve in each of the next three rotations to level at 17-17. The Blues quintet of hitters were now in fine form, but Cambridge's relentless side-out game was matched by Porter as service switched back and forth right up to 23-23. Now at the crucial moment Cambridge finally found an answer to the England international as a block on him from Jean Jacquet forced a lift from the Hallam defence as they struggled in vain to retrieve the ball. A fine serve from Andy Lynn on the next play allowed Cambridge to get the ball into transition, and Lynn himself delivered the finishing touch with a trademark spike out of the pipe to seal the game 25-23.

Game two started as game one, with Hallam taking an early advantage behind strong attacking from outside Laurs as well as the inevitable Porter. Time-outs from coach White at 8-10 and 13-16 prevented the Northerners from building up too great an advantage, and a great dig by libero Denis Zuev of a Porter line shot, followed by an outstanding save by Andy Lynn of a ball hit off the top of the block, enabled the Blues to score in transition and level the match at 17. Pierre Briguet-Lamarre belied the tension of the match at this crucial moment when, on bending down to mop sweat off the court, a Hallam fan yelled out "I love your ass, number 6!"; the Frenchman waggled the aforementioned in response. Three plays then decided the game on the back of his fearsome jump serve. The first service was overpassed by Laurs and thumped down by Dan Roy. The second was passed well off the net, and a difficult set saw Alex Porter unload on an angle shot, only to be blocked straight down by Lynn and Escott. The third again forced a poor pass, and Dan Escott correctly read that Porter would tip rather than spike; he was in perfect position to dig the ensuing tactical ball, but improved even upon that great play by immediately putting down a quick set from Roger Konrad. Hallam could find no way back thereafter and the set finished 25-21; for the first time ever, Cambridge Men were in the BUSA Final.

NamePositionSets PlayedAttacksKillsKill PercentAcesBlocks Total Points
Pierre Briguet-Lamarre O 2 14 7 50 1 0 8
Dan Escott M 2 10 6 60 0 0 6
Jean Jacquet M 2 3 2 67 0 2 4
Ken Kato O 1 0 0 0 0 0
Roger Konrad S 2 1 0 0 1 0 1
Andrew Lynn O 2 29 17 59 0 1 18
Anthony Reynolds S 2 0 0 0 0 0
Dan Roy U 2 14 6 43 0 0 6
Denis Zuev Lib 2 0 0 0 0 0
Team Total 71 38 54 2 3 43

Their opponents would be decided by the second semi-final, where Loughborough took on Birmingham. The first set was won convincingly by Loughborough, but strong hitting from Nikiforou and Antoniadis saw Birmingham take the lead in game two. However their attempts to make their advantage stick were thwarted by some truly outstanding defensive plays by Loughborough, who eventually took the lead themselves. The match ended on a moment of controversy; with the score 23-21 to Loughborough, Antoniadis hit a line shot on the leftside which hit both block and antenna before landing out of bounds. The line judge ruled block first and point to Birmingham, however he was overruled by the first official, who called the ball as hitting the antenna first and awarded the point to Loughborough. The score was now 24-21, but prolonged protests from Antoniadis drew a yellow card to end the match 25-21. Nikiforou then voiced his opinions on the matter and drew the yellow/red card combination from the first official, denoting expulsion from the venue for the match. Although naturally disappointed by an unfortunate conclusion to what had been a fine game, a Nikiforou-less Birmingham picked themselves up to defeat a second-string Hallam unit to secure third place. The crowds now built up around the centre court for the main event, which would be a repeat of the EVA Student Cup final, and also of the previous year's women's BUSA final; Cambridge v Loughborough.

BUSA Championship Final 

Blues 2-0 Loughborough University (25-16, 25-18)

In the end, it was barely a contest. But it was still, according to BUSA President Lenny Barry "one of the finest volleyball matches seen in this country for years". Whatever heights Cambridge had reached previously were surpassed as to a man they turned in an almost flawless performance. Loughborough were at full strength, with Dave Lovell leading the team at outside after having missed the Student Cup final through injury, and can hardly have been more motivated after finishing runners-up in the previous two BUSA competitions. And the home side turned in their usual awesome display of individual and team defence; but the onslaught from Cambridge was relentless as they secured the first EVA/BUSA double in eleven years with a crushing victory.

The first point set the tone for the match. Coach White had exhorted his players to break their habit of starting badly against Loughborough, and the response was stunning. A deep float service from Konrad was overpassed by Shillabeer, and opposite Dan Roy hammered the ball down to send the crowd wild. The next serve saw another poor pass force Loughborough to set Shillabeer on the outside, and Roy and Escott combined for the block. The Midlanders fell to 3-7, but strong outside hitting saw them claw back to 6-7 before Cambridge moved up to another level. The Blues' service game prevented Loughborough setter Rowlands from using his dangerous quick attackers, and Cambridge's block and defence on the outside attacks was outstanding as they won point after point in transition, with Andy Lynn hitting the ball at fearsome speed. The home side called time-outs at 9-13 and 10-17, but although they were making numerous heroic digs to keep the ball alive, these were merely preludes to a kill from the Blues on the ensuing attack. Dan Roy turned in the performance of his season as one rally saw him both impassable and unstoppable; the American first blocked the Loughborough quick attack, only for the ball to be recycled to the outside, but he was waiting to block the ball again. Cambridge then got the ball into transition, and Konrad set reverse to his opposite hitter; taking off on one foot to reach the set, Roy hammered a hard angle shot for the kill. Andy Lynn then took his turn in the limelight with a service ace of such ferocity that it deflected off the arms of the receiver into the roof of the arena. But Pierre Briguet-Lamarre was not to be outdone by this display, as he served up an ace of his own before making a kill from the outside to give Cambridge game one by a remarkable 25-16 margin.

Loughborough started game two strongly, however transition kills from Briguet-Lamarre after good serving from Konrad and heroic digging from Zuev gave the Blues a slim lead. This was stretched to a convincing advantage as, with Escott at the line, Cambridge's front row blocked each of the Loughborough hitters in turn in the space of just four points. First Jean Jacquet stuffed Garcia's quick attack; a play later opposite Pennock didn't get his tip shot quite high enough, and Andy Lynn hung in the air just long enough to slap the ball down. The home side called time-out down 8-4, but to no avail; Rowlands set Shillabeer on the next play, only for Dan Roy to solo block the outside hitter straight down for the third time in the match. To their credit Loughborough still did not give up as they pursued everything in the back row, but Cambridge sided-out at will as Briguet-Lamarre embarked on a run of seven kills from eight attempts in the game. One of these was a stunning line shot which grounded on the ten-foot line, and with the defence set deep for the expected power spikes, Andy Lynn was then able to crush Loughborough morale with two kills on off-speed shots out of the pipe. Taking the ball himself, he then sent down successive aces - the second an unplayable ball which landed within a foot of the baseline - as the Cambridge supporters filled the hall with their cheers. The lead was simply too great for Loughborough to pull back, and victory was completed as Pierre Briguet-Lamarre found the floor with a great seam shot to win the game 25-18, upon which he ran around the court with the bellowing hordes of the Cambridge squad in pursuit. All that remained was for the squad to throw coach White up and down (they caught him again, thankfully) and drench him with the contents of all the remaining drinks bottles, before the formal presentation of medals and the trophy and title of BUSA Champions 2002.

NamePositionSets PlayedAttacksKillsKill PercentAcesBlocks Total Points
Pierre Briguet-Lamarre O 2 11 9 82 2 1 12
Dan Escott M 2 4 2 50 0 1 3
Jean Jacquet M 2 4 2 50 0 2 4
Ken Kato O 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Roger Konrad S 2 0 0 0 0 0
Andrew Lynn O 2 21 12 57 3 1 16
Dan Roy U 2 12 7 58 0 4 11
Denis Zuev Lib 2 0 0 0 0 0
Team Total 53 32 60 5 9 46

Coach White on the triumph. "This is a remarkable team, and it's been a amazing season. Before the Student Cup we felt we had the potential to win National championships, but we didn't really know if we could do it. Coming into the BUSA Finals we were favourites; we knew everyone would be trying especially hard to beat us and so winning this championship feels even better. We improved with every match this weekend, and the performance in the final was astounding. Every player was on fire and did exactly what we had talked about in our game plan, and the team spirit was fabulous. Loughborough fought very hard but we didn't give them any chance at all; we blocked and defended with the sort of organisation and commitment that Loughborough sides always exhibit, and that coupled with the firepower we have is an unbeatable combination. I told the team at the end of the first trials session that we had the squad to win the National Championships - my only regret now is that I didn't put any money on it."

Tournament points leader for the Blues was Andy Lynn, who amassed 62 points over the five matches. Dan Roy (50 points), Pierre Briguet-Lamarre (42, including 12 aces), Dan Escott (22) and Jean Jacquet (15) were the other main scorers for Cambridge, whilst Roger Konrad and Denis Zuev turned in exceptional performances at setter and libero, respectively. The other members of the squad were Ken Kato, Soren Koeppe, Anthony Reynolds, Quentin Ramasse (club captain) and John Lin (assistant coach) whilst training squad members Huw Vater, Mathias Klaeui and Chris Thornton provided magnificent support for the team.

Report by Richard White

NamePositionSets PlayedAttacksKillsKill PercentAcesBlocks Total Points
Pierre Briguet-Lamarre O 10 46 26 57 12 4 42
Dan Escott M 10 27 16 59 0 6 22
Jean Jacquet M 10 16 6 38 2 7 15
Ken Kato O 8 3 1 33 0 2 3
Soren Koeppe M 2 1 0 0 0 0 0
Roger Konrad S 10 3 1 33 2 0 3
John Lin U 4 0 0 0 0 0
Andrew Lynn O 10 98 53 54 6 3 62
Quentin Ramasse O 4 0 0 0 0 0
Anthony Reynolds O 8 3 0 0 0 0 0
Dan Roy U 10 66 36 55 5 9 50
Denis Zuev Lib 10 0 0 0 0 0
Team Total 263 139 53 27 31 197