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By Bruno Baisch
LSE Volleyball Captain
On Friday 6 March, the men’s and women’s volleyball teams took the 5:40 am Eurostar to Paris, where they would play in the annual Les Parisiennes tournament. The competition puts face-to-face the top teams in France and the UK, making it a great opportunity for the LSE squad to show off our skills, build life-lasting bonds and pretend we could speak any French.
The men’s team was first to enter the court, in a long awaited match against Bristol. An incredible demonstration of powerful hitting gave the opponents no chance and LSE finished with a 2×1 victory. They then went on to beat the hosts, Sciences Po by 2×0, rounding off the day undefeated.
The women’s team also had a successful day, putting on an outstanding exhibition of consistency and team coordination. They achieved an easy victory over Bristol by 2×0, which was enough to get them to the semi-finals. The highlight of the day came from Reina Hanada, who scored a breath-taking ace and celebrated by looking at our video camera, beating her chest twice and yelling out her own name.
At night, the teams headed to the social event in a Parisian club. As we walked through the doors of the venue, we were hit with a warming sense of familiarity. The room was overcrowded with drunk athletes, the temperature created a comfortable sense of stickiness, and the DJ was really keen on his Katy Perry. It was undeniable: we were at Paris’ Zoo Bar.
Saturday kicked off on the right foot as we watched the UCL men get knocked out of the competition at the group stages. Afterwards, our men’s team won the semi-final against Trinity College Dublin and guaranteed their spot in the finals.
The girls played a very tight semi-final against UCL. With great serving by setter Almudena Portal and relentless blocking by Christina Pinckney, they took a 7×1 lead in the first set. Unfortunately, experience played in UCL’s favour as they were able to slowly recover and take the first set. The second set was fought point by point, with the LSE team producing great plays from outside Lucie Rehakova. However, UCL still manage to take the set, leaving our girls to finish at a respectable third place.
The big men’s final happened on Sunday, where the boys faced École Polytechnique, aka French King’s. After losing the first set, the men counted on the cheerful and enthusiastic support from the girls’ team to come back and win the second set. The final set was a great exhibition of volleyball at the highest level. Hans Friedl and Austin Kobe stood out with their attacking prowess. Two points separated the men from the glorious title at the end of the match. The honourable journey of the team, however, was ended by a sharp serve by the French team, which saw LSE finish second place in the tournament overall.
The trip was a huge success, giving the LSE Volleyball brand great international exposure. The committee is thankful to all the players and hopes they enjoyed themselves as much as we did. Also a huge thank you to the LSE Annual Fund for allowing us to participate in this tournament.