Scott Wilson led all hitters on the first day of the 2012 CEV Small Countries Division Junior Mens Championships with 11 kills from 16 attempts as Scotland, Cyprus and Luxembourg posted straight sets victories to open their campaign.
Wilson was joined in an exceptional performance by fellow wing spiker Ross Kirkwood (18 kills from 33 attempts) as the Scots shone in all departments with a 25-17; 25-13; 25-15 victory over Northern Ireland while middle blocker Connor Boyle made five kill blocks and was a constant torn in the Northern Irish flesh, tying up the middle blocker to allow Wilson and Kirkwood to go one-on-one with the outside blocker.
Afterwards, Scotland coach Thomas Dowens was in understandably positive frame commenting “We came in here with a definite gameplan, and it’s pleasing the way we managed to stick to the plan and execute a good performance for all. We can look forward from this to the rest of the tournament with some confidence”.
Nothern Irish counterpars Mark Hazeley was less impressed by what he saw, stating “ We can definitely play better than that; this was a flat performance from us, and some players never really got going tonight.”
Scotland’s success rounded off a fine first day of the Championships, which are being played at Ravenscraig Sports Centre. Cyprus showed their class with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over first-time finalists Ireland in the opening game. Wing spiker Giorgios Moschovakis led the way for the Cypriots with 12 kills and three blocks but was ably assisted by diagonal Anastasios Stylianou with six kills. In a 25-9; 25-7; 25-11 win.
However Cyprus coach Kostas Delikostas was insistant in the post-match interview that his team needed to raise their game in future if they wished to be successful, dismissing the 75-37 scoreline as merely “okay for a first game”. The only blot on the landscape for Cyprus was an ankle injury sustained by setter Kostas Kalafatis that puts his participation in the key game with Luxembourg in doubt.
San Marino and Luxembourg served up a cracker in the second match of the day, with both teams throwing caution to the winds in a dynamic and expansive offence. The key to the 3-0 win for Luxembourg was a nine kill, three block game from Chris Zuidberg backed up by a 2.67 passing game from Tycho Eichstadt. San Marino shone in spells though, and led 23-21 in the third set before Luxembourg’s aggressive block negated the San Marinese offence.
Luxembourg coach Dieter Scholl reflected “It was good to secure a victory today, as there are a number of dangerous teams in this competition, and we must be at our best at all times. I thought that the first two sets showed us at our best, but we learned in the third set that we cannot give away any advantage. I was delighted not only to win the 3rd set having been behind, but at the manner in which we fought back from 23-21 down.”
Tuesday’s games see a clash of the titans, as former winners Cyprus and Luxembourg lock horns at 3.30, followed by a Scotland v San Marino clash that could go a long way to determining the final medals, and a Hibernian derby to close, with Northern Ireland facing up to their southern counterparts.
Full results will be carried here, and there will be live text updates on the SVA Facebook page.