After a titanic battle with more twists and turns than an out-of-control rollercoaster, City of Edinburgh were confirmed as Schelde Sports Women’s National League champions, emerging victorious over the three game series against number two ranked Troon Prestwick & Ayr.
Having won the regular season portion of the championship, Edinburgh knew they would have home court advantage for the first leg, and more importantly, for any deciding game that was to be played.
Over 100 volleyball fans packed into the gym at Queensferry for the third clash of the season between the top two women’s teams of the last decade, and they were rewarded with a spectacle of the highest order as City of Edinburgh went on the offensive from the first whistle, breaking up the Troon passing unit and permitting setter Natalie Durcaka to determine the tempo of the game. Edinburgh were clear-cut 3-0 victors in the first leg, and already had one hand on the title.
Troon knew that in order to salvage the tie, tactical changes were necessary, and they revised their tried-and-tested rotation order for the second leg, moving Linsey Bunten to shore up the defence and expose a perceived mismatch against a smaller block. This paid dividends as Troon took the first set, only for Edinburgh to counter with an easy second set victory. With the match in the balance, Edinburgh became strangely hesitant, and allowed Troon to establish their middle attack for the first time. Troon’s middle blockers posted figures of +14 kills and six blocks as Edinburgh lost their way. Indiscipline crept into the Edinburgh play, and penalties against Coutts and Durkaca paved the way for Troon to take the game 3-1 and level the series.
And so back to Queensferry for the decider. Edinburgh were hampered by the unavailability of starting outside hitter Kamila Zakoutska, and this stretched their playing squad to the limit. Troon recommenced where they had left off the previous week, and claimed the first set, only for Edinburgh to level things once again with a close second set victory.
Once again, the match and the season was tightly poised for both teams, and it was clear that the team which held its nerve best would come out on top. Edinburgh’s cause was aided from one of this team’s younger players. Eilidh Anderson had the first chance to serve in the third set, and rewarded herself and her team with a stunning service display, causing mayhem in the Troon defence and setting the tone for the rest of the match.
Troon fought hard to get back into things, introducing Jenny Ellis back to the starting lineup for the first time this season, but Edinburgh always had more options and were able to win the key points to take the remaining sets and the match 3-1.
Edinburgh’s title win, their fifth in seven years, was richly deserved for a team which won 13 of its 17 regular and post-season matches 3-0 (the only team to take sets from Edinburgh in the league being Troon). City of Edinburgh now go on to represent Scotland in the final of the Celtic Cup in May, where their opponents will be either Queens or Ulster Jordanstown. In the final of the men’s Celtic Cup, Glasgow Mets take on either Richhill, Aztecs or Lisburn.
Schelde Sports Women’s National League Championship
1st leg – 9th April 2011
City of Edinburgh 3 Troon Prestwick & Ayr 0 (25-16; 25-18; 25-11)
2nd leg – 10th April 2011
Troon Prestwick & Ayr3 City of Edinburgh 1 (26-24; 5-25; 25-18; 25-21)
3rd leg – 16th April 2011
City of Edinburgh 3 Troon Prestwick & Ayr 1 (21-25; 25-21; 25-22; 25-16)
SVA Competitions Administrator