Cyprus and Scotland qualify for SCD final round

Saturday, January 21, 2012, 11:44

The girls of Cyprus and Scotland advanced to the final round of the 2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Small Countries Division, which will be played in Cyprus later on this year, after taking the first two spots in the qualifying Group B played in Malta last weekend.

Cyprus topped the group with three wins out of three matches, taking maximum points in the process. After defeating Scotland 3-1 in the first match, which lasted close to two hours, they found the going easier against the other two opponents, winning 3-0 in both matches. The Cypriot girls were clearly the best team of the tournament, and with MVP Nikoletta Stylianou and Eleana Petrou obtaining an average of 12 points per match, there was little the other teams could do to overcome them. Moreover, Best Setter Ioanna Leonidou led her team and made sure that all her attackers were kept in the game until the very end, ably helped by a very solid defence through liberos Stella Constantinou and Anna Taliadorou.

Scotland’s performance against the same Cyprus was a commendable one, with the former showing considerable technical and tactical improvement. After stretching Cyprus in their opening match, they then beat Malta and Northern Ireland with a similar 3-0 score, thus garnering second place and qualifying for the final round. Sophie Hunter, whose 32 points included 9 aces, and Claire Ramage, with 34 points throughout the tournament, led their team mates through the three matches, with Mhairi Agnew and Becky Arthur adding valuable points.

Northern Ireland’s star was their captain Alice Harkness, not only through the 28 points she obtained throughout the weekend, but also through the sheer determination she showed all the time she was on the court. Through her never say die attitude, she inspired her team mates to keep pushing until the very end of each set. Sorcha Maguire and Kerry Kirkpatrick also obtained a number of points through their attacks and services.

Malta’s team was the youngest of the four, with only a handful of players out of the 12 taking part actually having some kind of international experience. This showed during those moments when the going got tougher, when experience pays more than skill. The local girls played a good match in their first outing against Northern Ireland, and managed to keep themselves in the match during all the sets, winning the third one with a convincing 25-15 score. But they found the going very tough against Scotland and Cyprus, with the Maltese girls not managing to play consistently at their very best. Sarah Spiteri shone in the first match, with 17 points including 3 blocks and 3 aces, whilst captain Denise Grech was more consistent throughout the weekend, winning a number of points for Malta.

In a short presentation and farewell ceremony at the end of the tournament, the Malta Volleyball Association’s (MVA) President, Branko Vlahovic, together with CEV Supervisor Mr. Nihat Ermihan, handed out a memento to the referees for this tournament: Ms. Ilaria Vagni (Italy); Mr. Alexander Brandstaetter (Austria); Mr. Andreas Constantinides (Cyprus); Mr. John Swan (Scotland) and Mr. Marvic Micallef (Malta). Mr. Vlahovic, on behalf of the MVA, also handed out the forthcoming individual awards:

Best Setter: LEONIDOU Ioanna (CYP)
Best Receiver: CONSTANTINOU Stella (CYP)
Best Blocker: STYLIANOU Nikoletta (CYP)
Best Server: HUNTER Sophie (SCO)
Best Spiker: RAMAGE Claire (SCO)
Most Valuable Player: STYLIANOU Nikoletta (CYP)

Final Results: Cyprus – Scotland 3-1; Malta – Northern Ireland 1-3; Cyprus – Northern Ireland 3-0; Scotland – Malta 3-0; Northern Ireland – Scotland 0-3; Malta – Cyprus 0-3

Final Standings: Cyprus 9pts, Scotland 6pts, Northern Ireland 3 pts; Malta 0 pts.

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