City of Glasgow Ragazzi put on a show for the BBC television cameras as they reclaimed the men’s Scottish Cup at Wishaw Sports Centre.
After another tight battle with City of Edinburgh, Ragazzi came through 25-23 22-25 25-17 25-19 to win the trophy for the first time since 2006.
It was captain Ali Galloway’s day. Not only was he the most outstanding player in the final but he was later named Final Whistle Media Scottish Player of the Year for 2009.
When Ragazzi were locked in tight rallies with Edinburgh – and there were numerous in an excellent final – they always had Galloway to turn to.
Most notably at a crucial stage in the fourth set when Edinburgh had started strongly to lead 11-7 and, then when Ragazzi came back, a couple of unforced errors gave Edinburgh the momentum back.
But Galloway reeled off three successive points to give Ragazzi an 18-16 lead and they were never behind after that. “
It was disappointing,” admitted Edinburgh hitter Colin Macnab, “We just didn’t block well today and that cost us the match.
“They also had Ali Galloway who hit the ball consistently well and he gave us trouble all afternoon. We thought we could have taken it to a fifth set and then anything could have happened but it was not to be.
“While it is hard to take, we have come a long way in the last year. This time last season, we were involved in the relegation play-offs and this season we reached the Top Teams Cup final, finished third in the league and got to another Scottish Cup final.”
In an engrossing final, the teams matched each other point for point in the first set until Galloway took matters into his own hands.
At 22-22, he came up with the big points at the end of the set as Ragazzi came through 25-23. But Edinburgh came straight back in the second set and led all the way until a service ace from Galloway gave Ragazzi a 17-16 lead.
Edinburgh came back and a terrific block from Gavin Watt on Galloway gave them the lead at 21-20 before Simon Hammond clinched it on set point, sticking out a leg to keep the rally alive and then contributing the final point off the block to make it 25-22.
Ragazzi took control early on in the third set to lead 6-3 and then 15-8 with Brian O’Neill finding success through the middle as Edinburgh visibly wilted 17-25.
But, after Galloway had produced a stunning cross-court hit for the first point of the fourth set, Edinburgh came back with some solid defence and some imaginative hitting from Simon Hammond.
Watt’s setting was inventive and Daniel Traylor also found gaps in the Ragazzi block on occasion but Edinburgh could not build up any serious momentum and they always had the threat of Galloway to contend with and it ultimately proved too much.
“We have found it difficult to match Edinburgh’s spirit in matches with them this season,” admitted Ragazzi coach Tommy Dowens, “They are such a tight-knit group that it is difficult to break that.
“But, in an excellent final, we beat them simply because we played the better volleyball.”
There was double disappointment for capital sides as Team Edinburgh lost 18-25 22-25 25-21 20-25 to holders Troon PA in the women’s final.
Mel Coutts returned from 10 days playing on the California beach circuit but it was not enough to deny Troon the league and cup double.
It was coach Vince Krawczyk’s ninth win in 17 cup finals and he had the chance to use his young players in the third set bringing on Hazel Gow, Sarah Robertson, Hannah Grant and Steph McCall.
Both Gow and Robertson had played only a few hours earlier for Belmont Academy – coached by Troon setter Elaine Krawczyk – in their triumph over South Ayrshire in the junior women’s final.
“We lost the third set but this will give the young players good experience as we look to the future,” said Krawczyk.
“I thought Lindsay Bunten had an exceptional match for us and is hitting the ball harder than anyone in the Scottish women’s game.
“We were concerned about the threat of Mel Coutts but our block stood up well.”
Gillian Lyall had flown back from a two-week skiing trip to America on the morning of the match to help Troon’s cause.
The win completed a domestic treble for the club – the first team to achieve the feat since the Top Teams Cup was introduced.