Four Scotland Beach Volleyball Teams travelled to the fantastic setting of Vaduz, Liechtenstein for the CEV Small Countries Division Beach Volleyball Finals this weekend.
All 4 teams have competed well on the Scottish Tour but it was time they matched themselves against some top quality opposition and see what is required to get to this next level. 2 teams competed on Day 1 in their first Senior outings together. First up was Rachel Morrison and Hannah Paisley who have only competed in 1 Scottish Tour Event together before this event and gave a very good account of themselves against a very experienced Monegasque side. Starting nervously they eventually found some momentum and gave their opposition a run for their money.
The Men’s team of Marc McLaughlin and Ross McKelvie started against their Northern Irish counterparts and at times displayed why this could be a partnership for the future. The lack of sand time and guidance was discussed after the match, but they took a good team very close. Day 2 started very early for the team of Mitchell Brown and Callum Stewart, who would face off against a very good side San Marino. Both players from the Sammarinese team compete on the Italian National Tour which showed how tough this game would be. Scotland did themselves justice and certainly were a credit to themselves fighting for every point and using a lot of tactical smarts to keep their scoreline ticking over. Although they went down 2-0, they certainly had enough positives to take into their next game.
Lynne Beattie and Mel Coutts started their campaign against a very good young Liechtensteiner side. The Scottish team aimed to control the game from the start and that is what they did. Fantastic variance in offence and a safe passage into Round 3.
Morrison and Paisley took on Northern Ireland for a chance to play on Day 3 and go furthest they have ever gone in a competition. After an extremely strong start from the service line, NIR came back into the match with the Scots team struggling to close out the game. The match became a tentative affair as no team wanted to make mistakes
but the Scots held it together to claim their first ever win on the International circuit 24-22 in the 2nd set. Brown/Stewart had a very tricky tie against NIR Men. Some fantastic defence by Brown coupled together with some clever net play by Stewart helped the team to a strong 2-0 win to reach day 3.
McLaughlin/McKelvie took on Luxembourg in the last match of the day. Again signs of real potential in this pairing was coupled with mistakes caused by lack of sand time. The guys put up a great fight but lot the match 2-0. This won’t be the last of this team on the International circuit.
First up on Day 3 was Beattie/Coutts taking on Cyprus. A very tough start for the Scottish team but they rallied very well in the blistering heat of Vaduz to take the first set tight but the Cypriots held strong and took the first set. The Scots team started off weak in the 2nd set but kept fighting to the end but just couldn’t come up with enough to get back into the match. Morrison and Paisley took on the Liechtenstein team that Beattie/Coutts dispatched of in the losers bracket. Although the team started strong, several factors kicked in which allowed the home team to show their fantastic skill level for such a young team and dominate the 2 sets. Brown and Stewart then came up against 2nd seeds Cyprus to try and stay in the tournament. As with every Cypriot team, they were strong, fast and did enough to keep the scoreline in their favour. A great fight by the Men’s team but it just wasn’t enough.
This meant that Beattie/Coutts were the only Scottish team left in the draw and they were taking on their conquerors in the Cypriot SCD two weeks ago in the Losers bracket. The heat played a big factor on both teams but it was the Scottish team who dealt with the conditions better but executing quick points and frustrating the Cypriot team to make the Semi Finals. Next up were the Home #1 team in the Semi Finals on Day 4. An extremelty strong showing from both Scots cementing their control early in this match put the pressure on the Liechtensteiners in which they made a brief recovery in set 2, but the Scots reacted very quickly with a 6-1 side win to give themselves match point and duly close out the game.
This set up the Final against the Cypriots who had been so strong on Day 3 against Scotland. But this was a different match to that. Beattie showed some excellent touches in defence which was backed up fantastically by a strong side out game from Coutts. Scotland powered to a strong first set win.
Set 2 showed the mental toughness from the Cypriots and they forced the game onto the Scots team. Their physical presence at the net played to their advantage with some aggressive setting. Scotland rallied but Cyprus maintained control of the set.
The Final set was a nailbiter. Both teams went at each other all the way to 10-10. It was then a couple of errors creeped into the Scottish Side Out game giving the Cypriots the advantage they needed. The Scots never recovered from those errors allowing Cyprus to close out the match.
What a fantastic trip Vaduz was. Not only have we seen small signs of where we can take the Scottish programme, but also that the here and now can compete on the International stage.
Plans are already underway for a packed Spring/Summer 2019 of International Beach Volleyball Competitions.
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