Cyprus join Scotland in next year’s CEV European Championship Small Countries Division final in Liechtenstein by beating Northern Ireland 25-15, 25-14, 25-4.
Setter Shannon Lynss gave Northern Ireland a perfect start with some strong serving as they took the first four points of the match, and opposite Amy Wethers maintained the momentum with a hit off the block to make it 6-2. Cyprus then came back to lead 16-12 at the second technical time-out with some strong hitting from Erika Zemblya and Zoi Konstantopoulou and won the set 25-15.
Northern Ireland continued to resist in the second set with some terrific back-court defence and with main weapong Chloe Walkinshaw finding her hitting range. But again Cyprus finished strongly to take the set 25-14 on a hit from Zemblya.
Cyprus started the third set strongly to lead 8-2 at the technical time-out, middle blocker Katerina Zakchaiou showing her power through the middle. Northern Ireland coach Callum Grieve was forced into a time-out as his team trailed 14-2, however Cyprus piled on the pressure with 16 unanswered points to make it 19-2 before going on to take the set 25-4 and book their ticket to Liechtenstein.
Cyprus head coach Petros Patsias said: I’m happy with the match today because the team on court in the first set were all under 20. This is the future; this is the team that will play in next year’s world Championships.
“Now it gets serious – Scotland against Cyprus – the two best teams – abd the team that makes the fewest mistakes will win,”
Northern Ireland head coach Callum Grieve stated: “We asked for a response after yesterday’s match and I couldn’t be happier. We made them play – these girls have a lot to be proud of. the first two sets were the best we’ve played the whole tournament – even better than we did when we beat Ireland.
Captain Aimee Nixon added: “Playing four matches in such a short space of time brings the players closer together. Some of us don’t know each other that well but I think this event has brought the best out of us. It’s a young team and a learning curve for us.”