The Scottish Volleyball Community did itself proud on Wednesday night at the Citadel in Ayr.
More than 200 turned up to admire the magnificent Spaniards from Burgos and to cheer on a gallant Troon team in the CEV Challenge Cup Second Round.I saw players and officials from Glasgow Mets, Su Ragazzi, North Lanarkshire, Lenzie, Kilmarnock, Glasgow Irish and our local rivals South Ayrshire who were out in force (I am sure there were many from other clubs too.) It was great to have their support.
In addition, as usual Gail Campbell, Jen Downs, Michael Heaney, Lynne Marshall, Michael McConville Martin McMullen and Steve Scott from the Scottish Volleyball Association were there to help out at every turn and the boys and girls of Belmont Academy and the Troon club did their work as line judges, ball persons and moppers with admirable efficiency and quality.
The Citadel centre itself was resplendent put together by John Givens and his Citadel staff who know what to do so well as Troon took part for the fifth continuous year in European Competition.
The referee and his assistant Bojan Brlas of Croatia and Magnus Hagstrom of Sweden and our technical delegate ( the CEV’s representative at the match) Scotland’s very own Alan Bryce were models of professionalism offering sound advice and providing the perfect dispositions.
Margaret Ann Fleming the Chief Executive of Scottish Volleyball was there for us too.
The game itself will not be remembered for its excitement but will be recalled because of the fantastic skill level of Troon’s opponents Burgos, who had finished fifth top in their league last season. They were a mixture of Spanish and Brazilian flair, athleticism and quite a bit of stature, all but one of the team being over 6 foot tall.
The Spaniards began with a hitting error but any hope that this would be a sign that Troon could win many cheap points was soon forgotten as fast and powerful attacks split the Troon block and defence.
Troon passed reasonably well off extremely tough serving but couldn’t put the ball on the ground to clinch many rallies and if the ball was put in to the fingers and arms of their opponents it was immediately put back on the ground on the Troon side of the net.
Troon ran many subs to no effect except to build the experience of their young players and the set was ultimately lost 25-9
For Burgos it was much the same in the second set with Jenny Ellis, Gillian Lyall and Jenny Krawczyk having to work extremely hard in the pass to get the ball to setter Elaine Krawczyk. When they did manage it though Linsey Bunten was able to put away a few winners and Hazel Gow had a purple patch in the middle of the set which gave the generous crowd something to cheer.
Despite a lot of effort and some really hard work Troon lost the set 25-7.
By the end of the set all the Troon squad of 12 had been on court and the younger players Sarah Robertson, Steph McCall and Hannah Grant had done everything that was asked of them and Emma Pell had zipped over a few services.
When you might have expected them to have lost a bit of sparkle in the 3rd set, Burgos kept coming, whipping over heavy serves and still throwing the ball around at great pace at the net and pummelling the ball on to the ground in too easily found open spaces.
Troon’s squad rotation was also probably beginning to takes its toll on any fluency that they could muster and the set went away quickly and was lost 25-6 but Debbie O’Connor and Sarah Robertson did manage to get their hands on to some blocks at this stage and Elaine Krawczyk was still working hard trying to open up the giant Burgos block. Caroline Clayton also managed to breath a bit of life back in to the Troon left hand side attack.
So, Burgos were no sooner started than a little later they were finished. They will go on to greater things this season and we can watch their European scores with interest on the CEV website or even watch their European scores go up live on the CEV e-score sheet page.
(Well done to Troon’s Steven Cruse for letting the world see Troon’s score on that same site during the match at the Citadel).
I believe that Scottish volleyball is enriched by the visit of our visitors and Troon players a little bit emotionally sore but much wiser for the experience they went through.
We were delighted to visit the beautiful city of Burgos and have our guests in Scotland but the Troon players may well welcome a return to the normality of the Scottish game for the rest of the season but I am sure our Scottish rivals will try to make sure our return to earth is with a bump and not a glide.
Thanks to everyone whether a volleyballer or not who attended the game and made it a really superb occasion
Match report from 1st leg
On Monday 3rd of November a 12 hour car, plane and coach marathon saw Troon arrive at Burgos, 3 hours north of Madrid to prepare for their European Challenge Cup second round match against the University of Burgos.
The Burgos team is made up of full time professionals from across the globe including 2 Brazilians, a Peruvian, a Ukrainian and a player from the Dominican Republic as well as a group of home grown players. The University are the sponsors of the club.
A Monday evening and a Tuesday midday training session at the splendid 2,500 seat University sports hall left Troon ready to face their formidable opponents on the Tuesday evening in front of 400 fans and the television cameras.
Every one of the Spanish starting line up, including the libero were over 6’ tall, but Troon were as composed as they have ever been in Europe in what was the 13th European Cup tie for some of the Troon players. The first set score did not reflect Troon’s steady if underpowered performance as they went down 25-8.
The second set saw Troon go up a level to trail just 8-7, but fast Spanish attacks saw the set disappear out of sight as the home team went on to take it 25-10.
By then though Troon had played all of their squad of 11, including their four youngsters Sarah Robertson, Steph McCall, Hannah Grant and Hazel Gow as well as newcomer to European competition Emma Pell. All had given positive contributions.
In the third set the constant pressure from their opponent’s heavy artillery was beginning to take its toll and the number of unforced errors grew. However, Captain Gillian Lyall, Elaine Krawczyk, Linsey Bunten, Jennifer Ellis and Caroline Clayton continued to give all they could as the set went away from them 25-9.
Probably the top player for Troon was Jen Krawczyk whose passing was first class and her dynamic defence was exhilarating to watch.
In the return leg, the team knows what it has to do to keep the strong Spanish outfit on court for an extended period of time at the Citadel Ayr on Wednesday night the 12th November – warm-up start 19.30) and it would welcome the support of a good size volleyball crowd who will definitely enjoy the skills and power of a very high class continental outfit who finished fifth last season in their highly professional league.
We hope to see you there. Thanks