The first night saw the girls finals which were dominated in all three finals by schools from South Ayrshire; Belmont Academy, Kyle Academy and Marr College.
The P7/S1 final started with defending champions Marr College against Belmont Academy. The standard of play in this final was very impressive considering the players have only just moved up to high school. It is testament to the volleyball programme which the schools have in place that the players are able to thrive.
The match was defined by long rallies and great ball control by both teams, but in the end Marr College’s tactical attacks proved effective as they won 2-0.
Belmont Academy reached the S2/3 final thanks to a tie-break victory over Marr College at the semi-final stage and looked confident for the match. Kyle’s girls came onto a game after a strong start from Belmont Academy. There was some effective hitting and blocking on show, as the players showed skills well above average for their age group.
At one set all the supporters of both schools helped create a great atmosphere; however, it was Kyle Academy under the stewardship of Gerry Phillips, who took the title of S2/3 schools cup champions.
After an efficient change-around to the 6v6 court, Marr College and Belmont Academy took to the court again. The early exchanges were close with Rachel Morrison and Gillian Grant competing well for Belmont. Marr College’s experience and exposure to the Junior National League proved the deciding factor as they were able to keep the ball under control in the pressure moments and turn the rallies into points. They took the first set 25-14.
The 2nd set proved to be a similar affair. The scores were not reflective of the effort and positive attitude of Belmont, but it was Marr College who showed a great consistency throughout the course of the match, and a great performance from Jess Reid’s team saw the girls from Troon take the gold.
Day 2, and it was the boys’ turn to shine in Shotts. The P7/S1 and S2/3 finals again featured two Ayrshire derbies between Kyle Academy and Belmont Academy.
The finals were a great spectacle with boys from both schools willing to chase down balls to keep the game alive as well as some brave hitting. In the 3v3 final, Kyle Academy were able to wear down their opposition during the long rallies as Belmont found it difficult to put the ball down against the Kyle defence.
It was then over to the 4v4 final where Kyle were looking for a treble of wins over Belmont. This game was given an extra little edge due to the fact that many of the players on both sides are teammates for Liam Fleming’s South Ayrshire junior side. The players really rose to the occasion but it was Kyle again who managed to edge out the victory on the night.
Although the result meant that Belmont Academy left without a medal, making a record 5 finals in 1 year is a massive achievement and great credit to the coaching staff at the school, that they are able to offer a quality environment for all age groups across both genders.
It was time again to switch to the 6v6 ‘show court’ and the extra seats were laid out for the supporter’s buses which came from both Carluke and Stonelaw High School.
The atmosphere was electric as parents, friends, classmates, teachers and councillors all cheered on the two sides from South Lanarkshire.
The match was a fitting end to the finals as the standard of the match was high, due the extraordinary fact that 12 players across both teams have played for Team Lanarkshire in the JNL and 11 players have been part of Greg Coburn’s squads for the International Children’s Games.
The 1st set started of very even as Charlie McFarlane and Blair Gillies were able to get past the Carluke block to get some points on the board. However, once Carluke captain and setter Mark McLaughlin settled into the match and was able to distribute the ball to outside hitters Conor Walker and Jordan Scott, there was only ever going to be one winner, as Carluke ran out 25-14 winners.
The 2nd set followed a similar trend to the first with the addition of some great scramble play especially from Stonelaw, however, the greater speed, profile and experience of the Carluke team proved decisive as they took the match 2-0.
A massive thank you to all the schools, their pupils and teachers who put in such a great effort to bring along supporters and parents to create the positive environment for the players.
The event was greatly assisted through the brilliant announcing of Kenny Barton, refereeing from Albert Jaster, Kevin Amos, Alice Stewart and Brian McDougall and the events team of Daniel Traylor, Nora Gonzalez and Lewis McMillan.
Both Lynne Marshall and Michael McConville from volleyballphotos.co.uk were present during both evening’s events and their outstanding photo galleries from the finals can be viewed here.
The facilities at Calderhead were brilliant but more importantly the support from Head teacher Mrs. L Park, PT of Physical Education Ms. N Wilson and John French was tremendous and massive thanks is due to everyone at Calderhead High School for their assistance in putting on this event.
Club & Participation Development Officer