What a great tournament the SCA European Finals in Luxembourg were for the Scottish Women’s Volleyball Team.
An opening pool match on day one (10th May )was won handsomely 3-0 against Ireland and all 12 squad players were given a good run out.
The next day saw the fast improving Faroes team defeated 25-18, 25-22, 25-17 in the section decider. The passing of Katie Barbour and Laura McReady was impeccable and the atracking platform was fixed by Elaine Krawczyk’s expansive setting which allowed Rachel Morrison, Carly Murray Shona Fraser and Barbour to score with outstanding power hits.
Northern Ireland were now our semi final opponents on the same evening and they too were despatched 3 -0 as the Scots were again too powerful for their rivals.
The passing from Raveen Gill was outstanding as the Scots again built a platform which allowed young setter Emma Wadie to pull the NI block apart and this time hitters Chloe Rutherford and Sam Fowler took great advantage. They were supported too by the blocking and defence of Nicole Ramage.
In the other Semi Luxembourg came from behind to defeat the Faroes 3 -2.
The scene was set for the Scots perhaps to become our first ever Euro champions at SCA level.
The match was incredibly exciting for despite the Scots being forced into previously unseen unforced errors by their opponents and perhaps by the vocal home crowd. they were sitting at 25_23 and 25 -25 before letting the set slip to 25 -27.
An incredible game continued in the same vein in the third set as every sinew was stretched by both teams and at the end unbelievably the Scots went down 26 -24.
Changes were made by Scotland at the start and during the fourth set and it seemed to have worked as they led 6 -1 then 14-12 but Luxembourg turned the screw with effective blocking and a mixture of heavy and smart hitting and tipping to take the set 25 -21 and with it the match and the title despite an absolutely monumental effort by our heroic women led by their magnicent captain Laura McReady. A major local paper in a full page report called the match an enthralling final and it was all that and more.
So great disappointment was offset by great pride in a tremendous effort. There were individual awards to Scottish players too which helped to soften the blow of defeat with Rachel Morrison winning the off setter of the tournament and Mhairi Agnew scooping the middle blocker of the tournament and to top it all she also won the biggest accolade- the tournament’s most valuable player.
Scottish Volleyball has cause to be proud of this group of players.
The thanks that are given at the end of a report like this are usually skipped over by readers but I would ask you to read on because we as a group wish to thank the amazing contribution to this much changed teams progress provided by one of our coaches Connie Weisenfelder an American by birth but on whom we have now bestowed the status of honorary Scotswoman. It is not possible to find the right words to describe her contribution before she returns imminently to her homeland. However it is safe to say she is a technician, a tactician, a performance developer, a motivator and a personal development coach of the truly highest standard Thank you so much Connie. We must carry on your good works.
Of course there are many other thanks to be given. To our magnificent players, to our superb team manager Gail Wilson, to fellow coach Danny Traylor for his outstanding contribution, to Jenny Jones fine work as physio at the tourney and to Sarah Jones our physio who was unable to make the trip and to our brilliant sometimes sober travelling support of families and friends and to Margaret Ann Fleming and the SVA Staff for their continued administrative, emotional and financial support. Of course a big thank you goes to our excellent hosts the Luxembourg Volleyball Association.
Well done too to Jamie Salvin who was our refereeing representative at the
Head Coach to the Scottish National Women’s Programme.