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UU to take on Lasa-R in European Cup

By Chris Barnes

The University of Ulster Men's Volleyball team have been drawn in the first round of the European Cup against Lasa-R from RIGA in Latvia.

The first leg of the fixture will be played in Latvia on the September 29 while the home leg will be played at the University's Jordanstown campus on the October 6.

UU are ranked higher than their Latvian rivals thanks to their successes in the European Cup in the 2005-06 season, when they defeated Lornetzweiler from Luxembourg 3-0 in both the home and away first round matches - becoming the most successful team ever from the UK to compete in the European Cup.

In 2005-06, the University of Ulster was able to attract players like USA's Sean Rooney, who now earns upwards of $$1 million per year playing professional volleyball in South Korea and looks like representing the USA national team in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Team captain Nick Wright expects to attract a few more volleyball superstars to the University for this year's campaign to showcase the sport of volleyball in Northern Ireland.

He feels that bringing foreign talent to play alongside the Northern Ireland rising stars will benefit the growth of the local game.

"Our University team consist of the majority of the Northern Ireland national team and part of our strategy is to attract the very best players and coaches from around the world to come over here to help in the development of our young talent," he said.

"This is a very exciting time for our club to be back playing in this prestigious professional tournament which is similar to the UEFA Cup in football, where all the other teams have stadiums that can accommodate thousands of stadiums and they have the funding to pay all of their players full-time wages."

Dr Nigel Dobson, co-director of the UU Sports Academy said: "The University of Ulster Volleyball team has been instrumental in boosting the University of Ulster's sporting prowess throughout Ireland and across Europe. Having this year successfully defended their Irish University Volleyball title for the second consecutive year, the University wishes them well."

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