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Malta’s Inter-Schools Tournament a Success

The third Inter-Schools Volleyball tournament of this year is being 13012635_1716395501952350_1926917487742480471_nheld this Wednesday 27th April 2016, at the Cottonera Sports Complex. This time round it will be for boys and girls (coed) in Forms 1 and 2. The tournament is once again being organised by the Sport Promotion Unit within SportMalta, with the collaboration of the Malta Volleyball Association.

All clubs are invited to send representatives to the event. This is yet another opportunity to identify future volleyball talent.

Cyprus celebrate third Men’s U20 SCD title in ten years

Cyprus got off to a shaky start in the first set, but quickly recovered for 194326_IMG_5332a 3-1 (24-26, 25-17, 25-18, 25-15) win over Luxembourg in the final, to claim the title at the 2016 Men’s U20 Volleyball European Championship Small Countries Division.

It was Cyprus’ third title in five editions of the competition. Luxembourg, who were seeking to climb to the top of the podium for the first time since 2008, had to be content with their fourth silver in the 10-year history of the competition.

The hosts could have made their life easier, had they not blown two set points in the first set, allowing Luxembourg to come back from 22-24 down and take an early lead.

Led by tournament MVP Stephanos Haridimou’s 28 points and an impressive attacking efficiency of 67% (26/39), Cyprus bounced back to take the next three sets and clinch their third title in five editions of the competition. Nikolaos Eleftheriou added 18 points for the winners and contributed to their overall attacking of 54%, compared to Luxembourg’s 35%.
Charel Hoffmann and Steve Weber scored 18 points each for Luxembourg, who out-blocked Cyprus nine stuffs to six claiming both middle blocker positions on the tournament’s Dream Team.

Defending champions Scotland had to settle for bronze, crushing San Marino 3-0 (25-10, 25-16, 25-17). Pressing from the service line for nine aces to two and subsequently out-blocking their opponents eight stuffs to two, Scotland were led by top scorer of the game Conor Walker, on 10 points. It was the second bronze for Scotland, after their third-place finish in 2012.

Debutants Faroe Islands had previously outlasted Northern Ireland 3-1 (25-22, 20-25, 25-22, 25-23) to finish fifth in the standing. Oskar Weihe scored 16 points for the Faroe Islands, to counter Northern Ireland’s superiority at the net with eight stuffs to one and 49% kills to 39%.

Dream Team of the Tournament

MVP: Stephanos Haridimou (CYP)
Setter: Philippe Glesener (LUX)
Opposite: Stephanos Haridimou (CYP)
Outside spikers: Nikolaos Eleftheriou (CYP) and Charel Hoffmann (LUX)
Middle blockers: Yannick Erpelding (LUX) and Philipp Schenk (LUX)
Libero: Stuart Mackenzie (SCO)

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

Cyprus and Luxembourg vie for gold at SCD U20 Men’s championship

Cyprus and Luxembourg will fight for the title of the 2016 CEV U20 185151_IMG_3101Volleyball European Championship – Men Small Countries Division on Sunday, after comfortable semi-final wins Saturday evening, as defending champions Scotland crashed out of the race for gold.

The hosts are hoping to reclaim the title they lost in 2014, when they stayed away from the competition, by winning their third gold in five editions of the event. Luxembourg will be looking at repeating their success of 2008, when they won their only gold in history so far.

In semi-final action, Cyprus fought hard for two sets against a plucky Scottish side, but then broke away 10-2 in the third set and never looked back. With Stephanos Haridimou getting 20 kills in 34 swings for 59% and scoring 22 points in all, Cyprus outplayed Scotland at the net, both in blocking and in attacking efficiency for a 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-15) win.

Scotland had qualified to the semi-finals on a 3-0 (25-20, 25-12, 25-13) win earlier in the day over the Faroe Islands.

Earlier, Steve Weber scored 17 points while attacking for 57% (13/23) to lead Luxembourg to a crushing 3-0 (25-12, 25-10, 25-17) win over San Marino, as the Grand Duchy put their pressure on with their serving and out-blocked their opponents 12 stuffs to three.

San Marino had made it to the semi-finals with a morning 3-0 (26-24, 25-17, 25-13) over Northern Ireland.

San Marino and Scotland will vie for bronze on Sunday. It is a setback for the reigning champions, while San Marino will be looking at repeating their bronze-medal performances of 2006 and 2008.

Earlier in the day, debutants Faroe Islands will play 2014 bronze medallists Northern Ireland for fifth place.

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

Cyprus and Luxembourg top pool play on first day of SCD Men’s U20 Championship

Hosts Cyprus were joined by Luxembourg in confirming tickets to the 114041__DSC6442semi-finals of the 2016 CEV U20 Volleyball European Championship – Men for the Small Countries Division, after both topped their respective pools on the opening day of the competition in Nicosia. Two more tickets to the semis will be sealed on Saturday, when Northern Ireland meet San Marino and defending champions Scotland take on the Faroe Islands.

Cyprus found little resistance in either of their matches, shutting out Northern Ireland 3-0 (25-13, 25-6, 25-11) and outlasting the Faroe Islands 3-0 (25-7, 25-14, 25-20) as well. Coach Dimitre Letchev took the opportunity to bring on his reserves for some extensive on-court time, with Nikolaos Eleftheriou emerging as the best scorer for the hosts after two games.

Led by top scorer of the tournament so far, Steve Weber, Luxembourg edged 2014 gold medallists Scotland 3-1 (25-17, 20-25, 25-23, 27-25) and cruised past San Marino 3-0 (25-10, 25-22, 25-16) to advance directly through to Saturday’s semi-finals.

To complete pool play on Friday, Northern Ireland bounced back from their morning defeat to Cyprus, edging the Faroe Islands 3-1 (25-23, 25-18, 22-25, 25-20) for second place in Pool A. Earlier, Scotland had come back from two sets down to beat San Marino 3-2 (12-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-10) which eventually gave them second place in Pool B.

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

Cyprus complete clean sweep to win Women’s U19 SCD gold in Edinburgh

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Cyprus completed a clean sweep by beating Scotland 3-0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-15) to win gold at the CEV U19 Women’s Volleyball European Championship Small Countries Division. The Cypriots took the title without dropping a set, having earlier in the day beaten the Faroe Islands with a similar score line (25-22, 25-15, 25-15).

The Faroese team matched their opponents for long spells in the 26-minute first set but Vasiliki Chatzikonstanta had another immense match, contributing 21 points.

Against Scotland, Cyprus kept up their high-tempo Volleyball to secure the title comfortably. Scotland competed well in the early part of the set, coming back from losing the first three points to level at 3-3 and 5-5 but, when Julianne Hendry failed to take an opportunity through the middle to give Cyprus a 6-5 lead, it was a pivotal moment. With some outstanding serving from Antrea Theoti which put pressure on the Scotland first pass, Cyprus won the next seven points to take full control of the set. Scotland competed well in the rallies with libero Raveen Kaur Gill making some outstanding pick-ups but Cyprus had too many weapons. When captain Katerina Zakchaiou came on, it gave the hosts another problem. She contributed one explosive hit to take the score to 15-8 and then served an ace to give her team a 16-8 lead at the second technical time-out. Scotland never looked like retrieving the situation and Cyprus took the set on their second set point with a Zakchaiou tip over the block.

Cyprus did not take their foot off the gas in the second set, racing to an 8-3 lead at the first technical time-out. Shona Fraser contributed three points late in the set for Scotland but Cyprus clinched it 25-15 on their second set point with an intelligent hit from Chatzikonstanta.

The teams traded points at the start of the third set before Cyprus stepped it up on the back of some strong serving from Emilia Demetriou. Chatzikonstanta took Cyprus to the second technical time-out 16-6 with successive power hits through the Scottish block. But Scotland hit back from 8-18 to 14-18 with their best spell of the match, forcing Cyprus coach Petros Patsias into his only time-out of the match. Cyprus regrouped and only lost one more point – on a service error – as they took the set with Chatzikonstanta contributing the final one.

“My players played to my expectations,” said coach Patsias. “We have been preparing since December and we have good players. They have a very good character and I thank them with all my heart.”

Scotland head coach Vince Krawczyk, having seen his team take bronze, said: “We fought hard for everything and I can’t fault the players for the effort they put in.”

Luxembourg, who had beaten Scotland on Saturday evening, made sure of silver with a straightforward 3-0 (25-7, 25-9, 25-19) win over Northern Ireland, who finished winless. Emie Tarantini contributed 16 points.

Individual awards

MVP: Vasiliki Chatzikonstanta (CYP)
Best Scorer: Vasiliki Chatzikonstanta (CYP)
Best Blocker: Katerina Zakchaiou (CYP)
Best Receiver: Marlène da Costa Batista (LUX)
Best Spiker: Vasiliki Chatzikonstanta (CYP)
Best Setter: Eleni Kakouri (CYP)
Best Libero: Evits Leonidou (CYP)

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

Cyprus only unbeaten team at SCD Women’s U19 Finals

Scotland lost their first match at the 2016 CEV U19 Women’s Volleyball European Championship Small Countries Division finals in Edinburgh, going down to Luxembourg 155828_lm_0045832(19-25, 17-25, 21-25). It leaves Scotland, Luxembourg and Cyprus all on two wins but Cyprus, who play twice on the final day, are the only unbeaten team.

Scotland had earlier beaten the Faroe Islands 3-0 (29-27, 26-24, 25-17) after a remarkable first set. Scotland looked down and out and trailed by nine points 23-14 but somehow turned it around, winning it on their fourth set point. The hosts trailed 13-22 when coach Vince Krawczyk brought on Louise Agius and it turned the set in Scotland’s favour. Some steady serving from Agius took the Scots from 14-23 to lead 24-23 and forcing Faroese head coach Romica Oster into her first time-outs. Scotland held their nerve after the Faroese players saved three set points and had one of their own before Anna Sunadóttir Hansen’s hit was long and Scotland won it 29-27.

The Faroe Islands looked deflated at the start of the second set but clawed back from 21-15 to 21-21 with some strong serving from Petra Sunadóttir Hansen. A great reach by Rachel Morrison took Scotland to 24-22 but the Faroe Islands saved two set points before the Scottish block held up on the third set point as the set was won 26-24.

Scotland kept their focus in the third set and never looked like losing their grip on the match.
“As a coach, you never given up on a set no matter how far you are behind. We changed the balance of the team – we needed some tough serving and Louise gave us that,” said Scotland assistant coach Tom Rooney.

“Even if we had lost that first set, I think we could still have won. This is a great group of players and there is still more to come from them,” Faroese assistant coach Magnus Tausen said. “It’s disappointing for us to get so close in two matches but to come away with nothing.”

The Faroe Islands recovered to beat an improving Northern Ireland 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-11) with Anna Sunadóttir Hansen the top scorer with 13 points and Judith McClure the top receiver in the match for the Irish.

Cyprus continued to impress and were convincing (25-14, 25-14, 25-11) winners over Luxembourg. Vasiliki Chatzikonstanta was their top hitter with 17 points and Antrea Tooulia produced some tough serving, including eight aces.

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

Cyprus, Scotland, Luxembourg record wins on day 1 of SCD U19 women’s champs

Cyprus handed out a warning to their rivals in their opening match at the CEV U19 Women’s Volleyball European Championship Small Countries Division finals with a 25-3, 182911_lm_004526725-8, 25-5 demolition of Northern Ireland. In an impressive opening set from the Cypriots, Northern Ireland’s only points came on errors and Vasiliki Chatzikonstanta served for 21 unanswered points as the lead stretched from 2-1 to 23-1.

It was almost a case of serving practice for Chatzikonstanta, who varied her serve with the same lethal touch, but the spell ended when she served into the net, giving the Irish their second point.

In the second set Northern Ireland fought for every ball and were rewarded when they won three successive points from 5-20 to 8-20, including a service ace from Zara Hegarty. But Cyprus kept up the incessant pressure, leading 13-0 in the final set. Emilia Demetriou brought up match point, and after a net fault was called on Styliani Konstantinidou, Cyprus shut out the match at the end of a spirited final rally.

“I was happy with the way we played. Our philosophy is to apply pressure with our serve and keep up that pressure,” said head coach, Petros Patsias. “The aim is to play at 95-96% and even if we reach 75%, then it will be difficult for our opponents.”
Northern Ireland head coach Amy Wethers admitted: “We just didn’t play – we can play a lot better than that. Maybe there were some nerves because it was the first match.”

The Irish improved in their second match, leading Scotland 3-0 early on but the hosts hit back to win in straight sets 25-13, 25-7, 25-10 after their service game improved. The Scots produced a tighter second set, leading 6-0 and then stretching away as the Irish wilted. Scotland visibly grew in confidence as the match wore on and finished convincing winners.

In the best match of the day, Luxembourg blew hot and cold but eventually saw off the Faroe Islands in five sets 25-8, 23-25, 23-25, 25-22, 15-9. Luxembourg dominated the opening set, coming back from 3-6 to take full control with some strong serving from Anne-Catherine Bollendorff. But the Faroe Islands hit back to win the next two sets, Luxembourg saving five set points in the third before giving it away 23-25. The Faroe Islands led 21-17 in the fourth set but Luxembourg stormed back to take the match to a tie-break set which they ultimately won 15-9.

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

Scotland U19 women vie for historic SCD age-group crown

Scotland attempt to win the women’s U19 Small Countries Division European

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Scottish U19 Women’s National Team Squad

Championship title for the first time in Edinburgh this weekend, having struck silver and bronze at previous events.

Upgrading those medals is easier said than done with the hosts facing Northern Ireland, the Faroe Islands, Luxembourg and Cyprus in the three-day tournament in the Scottish capital.

Head coach Vince Krawczyk welcomes home advantage but also knows it can be a burden if the team falls short of expectation. He is confident he has as talented a group as has ever represented Scotland at this level but also hits a note of caution.

“While we are excited about this group of players, you never know how it will translate into a match situation,” he points out. “Particularly in under-age tournaments, you never know the standard of opposition. Cyprus are always a difficult opponent and I don’t think a Scotland team has won a match against them at international level, senior or under-age, although we have had close matches against them.

“Luxembourg have a well-developed group of players and we don’t know what to expect from them. The Faroe Islands have reportedly been doing well and Northern Ireland, who are maybe seen as the underdogs, are capable to presenting their own problems.”

Krawczyk, and his coaching staff, know the players well and, in some cases, have worked with them for five years, coaching them at club level and at the UK School Games.

As the most successful club coach in Scottish Volleyball history, he has seen it all in the game but confesses he is excited about the tournament. “We have some talented players to watch out for.  Rachel Morrison is playing at top division level with Troon and Shona Fraser has done well with Aberdonia in the Scottish League,” he continues. “Both are powerful, left-sided hitters who I’m sure will get the crowd going. As a coaching staff, we have to make sure we maximise the performance of the players and don’t waste or underplay the talent we have. Whereas in the past, we have chosen our final squad from maybe 13-15 players, but this time there is much more breadth and depth at U19 level in Scotland and we had up to 25 players of a good standard to choose from. It was difficult cutting the squad down to 12 players.”

Northern Ireland open the tournament against Cyprus on Friday (1pm) before the Faroe Islands take on Luxembourg (4pm) and Scotland start their home campaign against Northern Ireland at 7pm.

Click here for further information including a detailed match schedule

Northern Ireland ready for SCD Finals

On the forefront of what could be classed as a highlight in most of Northern Ireland’s Under 19 players careers, lies excitement and an eagerness to impress the opposition on an international level. A small country made up of 6 counties has always up held the stigma of being classed the underdog; something national players revel in, posing an opportunity to prove everyone how far sport within this country has developed. Northern Ireland in itself, enthuses an attitude to take part but most importantly exceed expectations time after time across a variety of sports.

 

On the back of their first win as a team against neighbouring Republic of Ireland, in a St Patrick’s Day friendly confidence within the squad is on an all time high. The match went on to show the determination and fight that can be found in most teams crafted on the Irish Isle to see out a 3-1 win under Captain Judith McClure. The girls representing Northern Ireland are sure to show skills that have been developed over the previous two years in preparation for this CEV competition and use this opportunity to improve for the future playing against world class opposition. A belief lies amongst the young squad who are dedicated to not only improving as a team but also find an enjoyment throughout the competition that only competitive sport can offer.

Fleyr and SÍ crowned Faroese national champions

The Faroese Volleyball family crowned on Saturday their 2016 national champions when IMG_1133the final series came to an end with Fleyr (pictured) and SÍ celebrating their seventh and fourth titles in the women’s and men’s competition, respectively. Though everything went just easy for the men of SÍ, the women’s final was a lot more dramatic and Fleyr eventually had the upper hand only after surviving three championship points for their opponents of Dráttur Vágar in the golden set, a format which was introduced for the first time ever in the Faroe Islands.

Women’s Finals: Fleyr Tórshavn celebrate seventh title after golden set win

For the first time since 1997, the women of Fleyr Tórshavn claimed the Faroese championship after a dramatic final against Dráttur Vágar where they survived three championship points to turn it around and win 16-14 in the decisive golden set.

Fleyr had handsomely beaten Dráttur 3-1 in the first leg on Thursday, so it was crucial for Dráttur to get off to a winning start on Saturday. They did that, but just barely, as they were facing a set point at 24-25, but managed to win the next three points to wrap up the set 27-25.

Dráttur was trailing again at 17-22 in the second set, but with superb serving from the experienced Sólgerð Henriksen, Dráttur went ahead 24-22 before winning 25-23.

The third set was a one-sided affair where Dráttur cruised to a commanding 25-16 win to set up a grand stand finale with a golden set – which for the first time was being used in the Faroe Islands.

Dráttur went from a 9-5 lead to earn three championship points at 14-11, but Fleyr kept their cool to win five points in a row – and so did especially server Eva Winther Nagata, who wasn’t even born when Fleyr won their last league title in 1997 – to clinch the golden set 16-14 and with it Fleyr’s seventh Faroese championship to add to their maiden cup title they had won a month ago.

Results

Thursday, March 24: Dráttur vs Fleyr 1-3 (20-25, 10-25, 25-13, 13-25)
Saturday, March 26: Dráttur vs Fleyr 3-0 (27-25, 25-23, 25-16)
Golden set: Dráttur vs Fleyr 14-16


Men’s Finals: Favourites SÍ Sørvágur claim fourth title in history

Although stretched to 27-25 in the third set in the second leg final on Saturday, there was little doubt about which team was the best on the day and over the two finals, as well as during the whole season where SÍ lost only one match.

However, Fleyr Tórshavn took a surprise lead in the first leg on Thursday, winning the first set 25-18 before SÍ quickly took control of the match, emphatically winning 25-14, 25-22 and 25-19.

The first two sets in the second leg on Saturday were pretty one-sided, as SÍ recorded dominant 25-21 and 25-19 wins, but in the third set they faced stiff opposition from Fleyr, who despite losing 3-1 in the first leg, only needed to win the re-match to force a winner-takes-it-all golden set. However, in the end SÍ edged ahead to win the third set 27-25 and a well-deserved Faroese championship title – their fourth in history.

Results

Thursday, March 24: SÍ vs Fleyr 3-1 (18-25, 25-14, 25-22, 25-19)
Saturday, March 26: SÍ vs Fleyr 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 27-25)