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Scottish team represented at English Student Beach Cup 2013

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The 2013 English Student Beach Cup was held this year in Bournemouth on the 8th and 9th of June. The two day event intended to showcase some of the best beach volleyball talents found within English Universities. This competition certainly fulfilled this promise as there were over 100 teams entered and some excellent beach volleyball on show.

For the first time ever, a Scottish University team was entered into the competition. The women's team from Stirling University consisted of Emma Clarkson and Steph Vickers. The girls demonstrated their commitment and passion for the game by travelling all the way from Scotland to play in the tournament after winning the Scottish Universities event a month before. There were 48 women's teams entered into the tournament and as a result a double elimination was the chosen format for the competition, meaning that if a team were to lose any two games they would be eliminated.

Emma Clarkson and Steph Vickers at Bournemouth at the English Beach Student Cup 8-9th June 2013

Steph and Emma met only eight weeks before the tournament and in that time had only managed to train a maximum of once a week on the Stirling University sand pit with their coach Ioannis Panayiotakis. The experience gained by Emma at SVA Junior Beach Volleyball Performance Coaching sessions clearly improved her beach volleyball skills. The SVA sessions clearly show a way forward for developing beach volleyball in Scotland. If only there was a beach court in Stirling perhaps results in Bournemouth could have been even better!

The girls headed down to Bournemouth as Scottish Universities Beach Champions, having won the Scottish student beach tournament on 4th May 2013. Though they knew competition would be much stronger and the drive much longer, their excitement did not fade. This tournament in Bournemouth was larger than anything the two girls have ever been to.

They won their first game on the Saturday against Newcastle which helped their confidence. In the second game concentration paid off. Aggressive serving and strategic offense allowed winning easily one game 21-2, resulting in the second win of the day. The last game of the day was a much closer competition as both teams had height and used strategies in the offense. However Emma and Steph still came out with a win, putting  themselves in the final 8 teams of the tournament. 

Their second day started with a game against the University of Bournemouth. The level of competition was much higher and although new offensive techniques were employed, they were narrowly beat by the trained Bournemouth team. The second game of the day was against the LEAF academy. Scrappy play and consistent defense was employed by both teams but it ended up losing both games for Stirling by a mere 2 points. As the tournament was a double elimination format that was the end.

Throughout all of the games the girls demonstrated a true love for beach volleyball as they served like demons, demonstrated a wide variety of attacks at the net and were determined in their defence. Emma and Steph displayed excellent team work which was a key to their success. Their motto “I am your teamate I am here for you no matter what” helped their results. And indeed they supported each other in their success and failures during rallies, as a result the girls were often seen to be diving for and covering each others mistakes.  Overall the girls from Stirling University had a fantastic tournament, representing the University of Stirling and Scottish beach volleyball with pride. They went from being 2 players that trained on long jump sand pits 8 weeks ago, to a dedicated team that placed top 6 in the English student beach volleyball tournament.They have proven that there are no limits to what a determined beach volleyball team can do.

A special thanks to Stirling University Sports Union for their unconditional support and especially to the president Chris Purdie who made this trip possible.

[Written by Emma Clarkson & Steph Vickers and adapted by Ioannis Panayiotakis]