Team Northumbria finish fourth in European Universities Comp
28th July 2016
Dave Goodchild has praised his beaten but unbowed men's volleyball team after Northumbria University finished fourth in the European Universities Games.
No UK representative side had ever finished inside the top 10 of the event until this month. But Northumbria gained some big scalps - and an even bigger reputation - before finally bowing out to eventual winner Nice in the Final Fours.
"The French team was full of players who have starred in their country's top two professional leagues and nobody had taken a set off them until we went 1-0 up in the semi-final," said Goodchild.
"In the end they were just too good for us and we had no complaints. But my guys loved the experience of playing against top class opposition on the European stage.
"They were professional and enthusiastic throughout the tournament and for a number of our players it was a fantastic way to sign off on their Northumbria careers.
"I couldn't have been more proud of what they achieved in Croatia and it's a tournament we'll all remember for a very long time."
Northumbria eventually finished fourth with key players Peter Bakare, Nathan French and Jeff Carlson all withdrawn from the third-fourth play-off match with injuries.
But Goodchild added: "I still believe we were the second best team - it was just the luck of the draw that we faced Nice in the semi rather than the final.
"We went there with the aim to push for a top four place and - although our expectation changed once we arrived on Croatia - we achieved that."
Northumbria's women also represented British Universities at the EUG event and finished 10th after failing to make the quarter-finals.
"I felt for the girls," added Goodchild. "The two teams who finished above them in their qualifying group went on to make the final.
"And the other two teams from that group - ourselves included - made the final in the lower half of the draw. It was the standout group and very tough to get out of."
Northumbria's volleyball stars will meet for pre-season on September 5 with Goodchild expecting a major overhaul of both squads before the 2016/17 BUCS and Super 8s seasons get underway.