Road to the Finals

Mel CouttsThe Semi Final stage of any competition is always tough. Everyone wants a place in the Finals Weekend and no team wants to fall at the final hurdle and go home disappointed. All over the country on Sunday, teams were competing fiercely for a place in the Thistle Bowl Final and the Scottish Plate Final. But it was at Wishaw Sports Centre that eight teams battled for the four prestigious Final places in the Scottish Cup. The 3-0 and 3-1 score lines don’t really give a flavour of how well each team performed – it was four great games!

First up – Division One league leaders City of Edinburgh against fourth placed Su Ragazzi in Semi Final One of the Women’s Scottish Cup. Su Ragazzi had beaten Edinburgh earlier in the season, but it was Edinburgh who won both league encounters against their Glasgow rivals. Sets one and two were close, each team producing some solid volleyball. However, Edinburgh consistently served and passed better and with a fabulous display from their setter Natalyia Durkaca and the tactical awareness of Mel Coutts, the Edinburgh side claimed the first Final place with a 3-0 win.

*City of Edinburgh 3 v 0 Su Ragazzi (25-17, 25-17, 25-8)*

Steven ToddGame Two – this time in the Men’s competition. City of Glasgow Ragazzi, a first division side with some powerful players was drawn against second division Kilmarnock II who fielded some very experienced players.  Most of the Kilmarnock squad have retired from first division play in the last couple of years. These players have faced each other many times over the years and have fought many battles. Kilmarnock  brought along a strong support to add to the electric atmosphere. Kilmarnock rattled the Glasgow side in the early stages and put Ragazzi’s libero Cammy Galloway under pressure. But he dealt with it well and Steven Todd was able to run a fast and varied offence that produced power and precision to put the Kilmarnock defence under pressure. Despite some strong blocking from Kilmarnock’s Allan Thomas, the Glasgow side claimed the first spot in the Men’s Finals with a 3-0 win.

*City of Glasgow Ragazzi 3 v 0 Kilmarnock II (25-17, 25-15, 25-18)*

The third game of the day saw top Men’s Division One sides City of Edinburgh and Kilmarnock Blaze take to the court. Kilmarnock are currently above the side from the capital in the league and were hoping to continue this trend in the Scottish Cup competition. City of Edinburgh had other ideas though and came out fighting hard. They probed the Kilmarnock defence time and time again with some powerful hitting from Graham Riddle and Jamie McHardy, coupled with some spectacular defence from libero Barry McGuigan. Despite the powerful presence of Kilmarnock’s Gordon Welsh and Stuart Edgar, who both tried to find a way through the Edinburgh defence, it wasn’t to be and City of Edinburgh claimed the last place in the Men’s Scottish Cup. They will face City of Glasgow Ragazzi in May in what promises to be a very exciting encounter.

*City of Edinburgh 3 v 0 Kilmarnock (25-18, 25-18, 27-25)*

Troon Team PicThe last game of the day saw well-travelled North Grampian against Division One side Troon, Prestwick and Ayr. On paper, Troon looked to be the favourites, but North Grampian had reached the Cup Semi Finals last year and were looking to go a step further in this year’s competition. Troon started the game well and comfortably took the first set 25-7. In the second set, North Grampian got back into the game and started to defend better. However, Troon stepped up their game in response and took the second set. The third set saw North Grampian really pressure their opponents with some inspired defending from Mary Smith and some tactical attacking. Troon made some substitutions to try to shake their opponents but it didn’t work – North Grampian took the third set, 25-22. In what was to be the final set of the game, Troon regained their composure with Jenny Krawczyk providing some precision passing, and Linsey Bunten producing some power, allowing them to win the fourth set. This sets up a spectacular Final in May between City of Edinburgh and Troon, Prestwick and Ayr.

*Troon, Prestwick and Ayr 3 v 1 North Grampian (25-7, 25-16, 22-25, 25-12)*

Finals Weekend is later this year so it gives you plenty of time to clear your diaries to ensure you are there. Whether your club is involved or not, be a part of Scottish Volleyball and come and support the players, staff and officials involved in this fantastic weekend of volleyball.

Finals Weekend:
Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th May 2011
Wishaw Sports Centre