European University Championships 

Pool Match 1 - Blues vs Ukraine
Pool Match 2 - Blues vs Ukraine
5-8th Playoff - Blues vs Israel
7-8th Playoff - Blues vs Cyprus

As 2002 National Champions, Cambridge University Men were invited by BUSA to represent Great Britain at the European University Championships. The tournament took place in Athens, Greece between the 1st and 6th July 2002 and the Blues win over Cyprus in their final game saw them finish 7th out of the 10 teams competing. Cambridge were also the only team to take a set off the Ukraine team who won the tournament.

Pool Match 1 

Blues 0-3 National Law Academy of Ukraine (18-25, 14-25, 14-25)

We played our first match today - eventually! Having scheduled training for 10am and a match for 6pm, the organisers told us late last night that we were actually playing at 10 this morning. Except that we and our opponents, Ukraine, arrived to find no referees and no balls. They did eventually turn up, at 12.30pm... and when we finished the game, we were told there was no running water and hence no showers (the outside temperature was around 34 degrees). The organisation of the tournament is generally pretty dire, God help the 2004 Olympics!

Ukraine, although badged as a Law Academy, are actually the main volleyball academy in the country. They fielded a whole team of professional players, including four junior internationals and two full internationals. Their setter weighed in at around 1.95m and the rest of the team were upwards of that, the tallest was 2.09m. We lost in three straight (18, 14, 14), but the Greek organisers were impressed that we had won any points at all against a team that are full professionals and the tournament favourites. Oddly enough Ukraine's superior block was not our downfall - us Cambridge boys are far too smart to hit straight into big blocks - but rather their service. All of their players were consistently able to jump serve at high velocity (judging from our video clips, easily 100+ km/h for their top server), and we lost 15 points on aces or service winners.

No-one in Britain serves that well! To give you some idea of Ukraine's strength, they are much stronger than that Russian side which played at Polonia against the English national side last summer (and whipped them).

The French and Greek sides (Montpellier, Athens) are also entirely made up of pro-league players, whilst the Netherlands team has no starter below 2m and is coached by Wim Koch (assistant coach on the 2000 Olympic team, and also a damn fine chap).

NamePositionSets PlayedAttacksKillsKill PercentAcesBlocks Total Points
Pierre Briguet-Lamarre O 3 10 4 40 2 0 6
Dan Escott M 3 8 1 13 0 1 2
Jean Jacquet M 3 1 0 0 3 0 3
Ken Kato O 1 2 1 50 0 0 1
Roger Konrad S 3 1 0 0 0 0 0
Andrew Lynn O 3 24 13 54 0 2 15
Yves Petremand M 1 0 0 0 0 0
Anthony Reynolds S 1 0 0 0 0 0
Dan Roy U 3 20 6 30 0 0 6
Denis Zuev Lib 3 0 0 0 0 0
Team Total 66 25 38 5 3 33

Pool Match 2 

Blues 1-3 National Law Academy of Ukraine (15-25, 17-25, 26-24, 10-25)

We played our second match against Ukraine today - due to the withdrawal of the Yugoslav representative, we are the only two teams in our pool.

We had a good training session this morning where we specifically practised reception, particularly against hard spin services, and also did some work on running three-man blocks as a standard tactic. The hall for today's game was much bigger, and we even had some spectators... unfortunately this didn't seem to motivate the team, who came out very flat. Some dire service and hitting errors meant we dropped game one to 15, far from bad but much less than we would have hoped.

Game two saw some improvement, but Ukraine's opposite still took a run of five points off us with his jump serve. Even with four guys passing with instructions just to pop it up as if it were a spike (it's hard enough), he could still ace us. Ukraine ran a couple of subs and took the set to 17.

Game three could well be the highlight of our tournament, however.

Although down by three at both technical time-outs, Cambridge fought back superbly, even overcoming a couple of terrible calls by the up-ref. Amazingly, the matches don't have line judges - and this particular ref called a Ken Kato jump serve ace as being a foot fault, when he was well behind the line. Having saved a match point, some heroic defence from Denis Zuev forced a Ukraine hitting error to give us set point. On the next play, Ukraine set their one-tempo - and their 6'9" middle blocker was stuffed straight down by Great Britain's own 5'11" Jean Jacquet.

The team celebrated, quite rightly, as if they'd won the tournament.

Unfortunately the Ukraine coach, who was visibly furious at the loss of a set, clearly used the interval to threaten his players with years of hard labour should they do it again. They responded, and took a big early lead, at which point I ran the bench to give them a go.

A very successful day, then, and we had our photos taken with the Ukraine boys afterwards just to prove how big they were (link). The Ukraine coach congratulated me after the game, which was a nice touch. We bought them a round of beers at dinner afterwards... which were gladly accepted but not drunk. Ukraine are here to win.

NamePositionSets PlayedAttacksKillsKill PercentAcesBlocks Total Points
Pierre Briguet-Lamarre O 4 12 6 50 2 1 9
Dan Escott M 4 9 3 33 0 0 3
Jean Jacquet M 4 4 1 25 0 1 2
Ken Kato U 4 9 5 56 0 0 5
Roger Konrad S 4 1 0 0 0 0 0
John Lin U 1 2 1 50 0 0 1
Andrew Lynn O 4 24 10 42 1 1 12
Yves Petremand M 2 0 0 0 1 1
Anthony Reynolds S 4 1 0 0 0 0 0
Dan Roy U 4 17 4 24 2 0 6
Denis Zuev L 4 0 0 0 0 0
Team Total 79 30 38 5 4 39

5-8th Playoff 

Blues 0-3 Open University of Israel (17-25, 14-25, 22-25)

Today's match wasn't until the evening, which was probably just as well since most of the guys were nowhere to be seen at breakfast! This coach began to regret not imposing any sort of curfew or limitation on his team's social activities. Our opponents were Israel, in the first 5th-8th seeding match.

On the bus to the Greece/Cyprus game (I decided to scout our opponents for the final match), I sat next to the coach of the Croatian men. Although I was prepared to use my Croatian on him, he of course spoke perfect English. He was very surprised by the lack of support for and emphasis on physical education in English universities - in Zagreb at least two sessions per week are compulsory for all students, irrespective of what course they are following.

In the match preceding our game, Cyprus showed themselves to be a decent side, with three strong hitters, and were only pipped 3-2 by Greece. The Israel team looked a very mixed bunch in warm-ups; being the Open University side, they presumably have the same potential as the British equivalent. Hence one of their players looked to be in his mid-forties, although he offset this by standing 6'8".

The match was a huge disappointment. Israel were a decent enough team, but beatable. Unusually for modern volleyball, they base their strategy around the middle of the net. Their two passers (who were excellent) came in for a lot of combinations and used inside-out approaches, in almost a true swing hitter system. The Israeli setter was truly outstanding and made a couple of plays that will stick in my mind for a long time. One came with a ball that looked as though it was overpassed; he was back-row, but jumped and set the ball one-handed as a reverse slide to his middle at the antenna at 2. The ball was crushed with our blockers nowhere.

Unfortunately Cambridge played the worst match I've seen us play since probably the start of the season. We knew we had to serve tough, and when we did so Israel struggled - the guys are running 3-man blocks very efficiently now and it works well. But the serving was generally poor, whereas Israel consistently put over tough spin serves and put big blocks up well themselves.

The first two sets were lost to 17 and 17, game three looked to be going the same way until at match point down, we won 6 points in a row before Israel finally finished us off. Even Pierre Briguet-Lamarre coming on as sub and yelling at his team to 'do it for the Norwegian girls!' (who were in the stands) couldn't motivate them.

One final point; the Israelis were a very nice bunch, and surpassed themselves by giving us not only a pennant, but also a t-shirt each. The same could not be said of their two security guards, who prowled the hall with walkie-talkies and concealed weapons throughout the game.

NamePositionSets PlayedAttacksKillsKill PercentAcesBlocks Total Points
Pierre Briguet-Lamarre O 3 16 7 44 0 0 7
Dan Escott M 3 7 4 57 0 4 8
Jean Jacquet M 3 3 2 67 0 1 3
Ken Kato U/O 3 3 1 33 0 0 1
Roger Konrad S 3 2 0 0 0 0 0
John Lin U 2 1 0 0 0 0 0
Andrew Lynn O 3 26 9 35 0 1 10
Anthony Reynolds S 2 0 0 0 0 0
Dan Roy U 3 15 2 13 1 0 3
Denis Zuev L 3 0 0 0 0 0
Team Total 73 25 34 1 6 32

7-8th Playoff 

Blues 3-2 University of Cyprus (25-13, 25-21, 21-25, 22-25, 15-13)

Today was the final day of competition, and the final chance for the organisers to show their lack of common sense as they arranged the final round of matches all to start at the same time. This annoyed the team as they realised they would be unable to watch the final, and the organisers' hopes that everyone would finish their games in time to travel to the closing ceremony looked far-fetched.

Nevertheless the Cambridge squad arrived at the appointed venue in time to see Israel pip Greece 3-2 to take fifth place. The fact that the hosts finished 6th this year was a testimony to the strength of the field, since Greece had finished as runners-up in last year's tournament and still fielded a team entirely consisting of players from the Greek pro-leagues, and including one full international.

The duration of this match made it extremely unlikely that any of the teams would be able to get across Athens for the final, however Great Britain did their best as they raced to a two-set lead. Cyprus were yet another strong side, but played a very similar game to us and were therefore much less of a challenge than Israel had been the day before. Denis Zuev made some great plays in defence and in block cover, whilst Dan Escott produced a stunning reaction save as Britain dominated.

Cyprus responded very well, however, and began to bring their star player, a 6'5" middle, into the game more. He was unstoppable in the front row and hardly less so out of the back row, and started to take control as Cambridge's service pressure dropped and the Cyprus passing improved. Ken Kato and Anthony Reynolds were subbed in and John Lin also saw court time, but they could do little as the Cypriots pulled back one set and then levelled the match.

The tie-break was a thriller and brought a sizeable crowd to its feet on several occasions. Cambridge raised their game and the ensuing exchanges were of the highest quality as both teams traded big kills and bigger stuff blocks. Great Britain took a 7-3 lead behind two blocks from Dan Roy and another from Andy Lynn, but then fell apart to allow Cyprus five points in a row before siding-out. The match then went point-for-point before Dan Escott added a stuff of his own, and with the score 14-13 to Britain it was Escott who sealed it with another huge block. 7th place was thus secured, with the team celebrating as if they had won the tournament, whilst Andy Lynn broke the University record during the match with his total of 28 points.

Although the match finished far too late for Cambridge to attend even the closing ceremony, let alone the final, the Blues' own Soren Koeppe was there to report back. It turned out to be one of the most one-sided matches of the competition, with Ukraine thumping France 3-0 (Ukraine led 17-3 early on) to complete a double triumph, their women having won their European title earlier in the day. Cambridge were therefore the only team in the tournament to take a set off the champions, a considerable achievement.

Despite the trials and tribulations associated with organising the transport of a party of 16 to Athens for the championships, the tournament was a great success both on and off the court. The players had the chance to play at a level most would probably never have otherwise seen, and it was a testament to them that they raised their game accordingly. Special thanks should go to Dr Jon Clarke, Cambridge women's team coach and our head of delegation, for his diplomatic skills in negotiating with the organising committee, and to Liana, Isabel, Sofia, Neryssa and all the others who flew in to support us.

NamePositionSets PlayedAttacksKillsKill PercentAcesBlocks Total Points
Pierre Briguet-Lamarre O 5 30 11 37 2 2 15
Dan Escott M 5 13 6 46 1 6 13
Jean Jacquet M 5 7 2 29 0 2 4
Ken Kato O 1 4 1 25 0 0 1
Soren Koeppe M 3 4 0 0 0 0 0
Roger Konrad S 5 0 0 0 1 1
John Lin U 1 0 0 0 0 0
Andrew Lynn O 5 52 25 48 0 3 28
Anthony Reynolds S 1 1 1 100 0 1 2
Dan Roy U 5 35 10 29 1 3 14
Denis Zuev L 5 0 0 0 0 0
Team Total 146 56 38 4 18 78

Final Standings

1Kiev NZA (UKR)Kiev TANE (UKR)
2Montpellier (FRA)Athens (GRE)
3Chisinau (MDA)Dresden (GER)
4Eindhoven (NED)Trondheim (NOR)
5Open University (ISR)Rijeka (CRO)
6Athens (GRE)Minho (POR)
7Cambridge (GBR)Paris VII (FRA)
8Nicosia (CYP)Chisinau (MDA)
9Zagreb (CRO)Ljubljana (SLO)
10Madeira (POR)Sofia (BUL)
11-Nicosia Intercollege (CYP)

Report by Richard White

NamePositionSets PlayedAttacksKillsKill PercentAcesBlocks Total Points
Pierre Briguet-Lamarre O 15 68 28 41 6 3 37
Dan Escott M 15 37 14 38 1 11 26
Jean Jacquet M 15 15 5 33 3 4 12
Ken Kato O 9 18 8 44 0 0 8
Soren Koeppe M 3 4 0 0 0 0 0
Roger Konrad S 15 4 0 0 0 1 1
John Lin U 4 3 1 33 0 0 1
Andrew Lynn O 15 126 57 45 1 7 65
Yves Petremand M 3 0 0 0 1 1
Anthony Reynolds S 8 2 1 50 0 1 2
Dan Roy U 15 87 22 25 4 3 29
Denis Zuev Lib 15 0 0 0 0 0
Team Total 364 136 37 15 31 182