Junior International Challenge – Scotland v England

Sean CookIt is a long time since Scotland boasted a whitewash over England at any level but the Scottish junior men achieved a memorable double over their English counterparts at the Kelvin Hall. After winning Friday’s international 27-25 25-18 25-23 in front of a fiercely partisan crowd of some 750 schoolchildren, Simon Coleman’s side followed up with a 25-23 25-13 25-19 in on Saturday.

In a superb advert for the sport, both teams traded blows early in each set but the young Scots showed great resilience to pull away at the end of each set. England – with Taofeeq Adeyemi (Chadwell Heath) and Jim Miller (Sheffield) both looking outstanding prospects for the future – led at several stages in the final set but Scotland pulled back to 18-18 and then took the lead at 19-18 after a hitting error by Roman Neveykin (Newcastle Staffs).

It was the break they need to go on and win the set and complete the whitewash. The Scots had great success through the middle and when Fraser Brown (Leeds Carnegie) put them 23-19 in frotn with an astute piece of play at the net there was no way back for England.

Kevin Laurie (South Ayrshire) made it match point with another hit through the middle and Scotland won it at the first chance with an outside hit from Seain Cook (Bath University). It was a solid all-round team display over the two matches which promises much for the future. Andrew McGregor (Su Ragazzi) had a dominant two matches but the Most Valuable Player award went to City of Edinburgh libero Liam Darling.

Scotland’s women improved on Friday’s display and were unlucky not to take England the full distance after winning the second set and coming close to taking the third. Emma Clarkson (Su Ragazzi), Sarah Robertson (Troon) and Kay Wheatley (South Ayrshire) all caught the eye and Wheatley’s performances over the two matches has won her an immediate call-up to the senior international squad and she will travel to Luxembourg next month for the Novotel Cup as a late replacement for the injured Ann Morrish.

Tameside’s Magda Ropiak won the Most Valuable Player award and she produced the goods when it mattered most with clubmate Becky Beswick not far behind.

Results: International Junior Volleyball Challenge (Kelvin Hall, Glasgow): Friday: Men: Scotland 3 England 0 (27-25 25-18 25-23); Women: Scotland 1 England 3 (15-25 25-23 12-25 21-25); Saturday: Men: Scotland 3 England 0 (25-23 25-13 25-19); Women: Scotland 1 England 3 (17-25 25-21 24-26 16-25).

Photographs – © Lynne Marshall