As many had predicted, on Saturday the home team of Luxembourg easily disposed of Northern Ireland
in what was their debut match at d’Coque for the first-round qualifier of the 2018 FIVB Men’s World Championship, which also coincides with the qualifying stage for the 2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Small Countries Division. Luxembourg showed no mercy for Northern Ireland (3-0; 25-14, 25-13, 25-20) – the guys from Ulster have travelled to the Grand Duchy with only nine players but despite this the night before they had claimed a 3-1 win over the rookies from the Faroe Islands. On Sunday Luxembourg will complete their duties playing the Faroe Islands for first place in the pool. The home team needs to take at least two sets from this match to secure their leadership in the group.
The eventual winners and runners-up of the single round robin will move on to the second stage of the World Championship qualification process scheduled for May 2017 as well as secure their progression to the SCD Finals due to take place in Iceland next year as well.
The Grand Duchy’s Volleyball rising star Kamil Rychlicki (pictured, #4) paced the home side scoring 17 points, with Tim Laevaert also finishing the match in double digits (12); Peter Stewart top scored for Northern Ireland with 11.
The tournament taking place this weekend in Luxembourg City is the first of two major events to be organised at d’Coque, the Grand Duchy’s National Sporting and Cultural Centre, as one week later the ‘Lions’ of Luxembourg will be hosting the national teams of Austria, Lithuania and Moldova for the first qualifying round of the ‘big’ European Championship.
Focussing for the time being on the SCD / World Championship qualifier, Luxembourg are enjoying much more than just the home court advantage following their unprecedented results in what was a memorable 2015 season, including gold at the Games of the Small States of Europe (GSSE) and at a home Final Round of the 2015 SCD European Championship.
The year 2016 extended this success story with Luxembourg topping the final standing – for the first time ever – of the annual Novotel Cup, an international tournament held every year in early January at the same iconic premises of d’Coque.