Iceland completed on Sunday a clean sweep of their matches at the first-round qualifier for the 2018 FIVB Women’s World Championship held in Luxembourg City to secure their spot in the next round as well as in the finals of the 2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Small Countries Division. Hosts Luxembourg lost 1-3 to Scotland and had to be content with third place in the tournament, quite a disappointment for the home side at the end of their 2016 international campaign.
The 2016 season ended with a major disappointment for Luxembourg – the ‘Red Lionesses’ are nevertheless qualified for the SCD Finals coming up next year since the Grand Duchy will be hosting the event in 2017. Scotland, on the other hand, could be happy with their progression to the SCD Finals by means of the second place they settled for on Sunday.
Northern Ireland vs. Iceland 0-3 (8-25, 13-25, 6-25)
Everyone had reckoned with an easy and speedy victory for Iceland in their matchup with Northern Ireland – and so it was. Iceland cruised to a 25-8, 25-13, 25-6 win thereby further cementing their leadership in the pool. Iceland coach Daniele Capriotti used this match as an opportunity to test some of his reserve players.
Scotland vs. Luxembourg 3-1 (25-23, 16-25, 25-23, 25-20)
In the other match of the day where second place in the pool was at stake, Scotland dealt a big blow to hosts Luxembourg cruising to a 3-1 win (25-23, 16-25, 25-23, 25-20).
Luxembourg caught a promising start to their last match of the weekend – serving strong to cause problems to Scotland’s receivers. However, after the score was levelled at 11-all, Scotland cruised to a 16-14 lead at the second technical time-out, but Luxembourg closed in at 24-23 by means of good serving contributed by Isabelle Frisch. However, she sent the next serve into the net and Scotland closed the first set out 25-23 in their favour.
Luxembourg coach Detlev Schönberg asked for his first technical time-out by the score of 4-0 for Scotland in the second set. This was a good move and Luxembourg fought back eventually claiming the lead for the first time at 11-10. Cindy Schneider set the pace for the home side and this resulted in a clear dominance for Luxembourg which became even more obvious in the second half of the set. Betty Hoffmann spiked time and again and the ‘Red Lionesses’ eventually won the set comfortably by as many as nine points (25-16).
Luxembourg had a four-point lead for most of the third set (11-7, 15-11, 22-18) but nevertheless it was not enough to take the set. Towards the end of this frame, Luxembourg kind of lost focus and control, playing a way too passively, and ended up paying a high price for that, with Scotland emerging victorious at 25-23 and setting their sights on winning this matchup.
Luxembourg almost broke down in the fourth set and did never really find their way back into the match. Scotland quickly claimed a four-point lead and continued to play with intensity and consistency, eventually closing the set and the match out 25-20.
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