Cyprus brought the heat to Scotland’s hopes in the CEV European Junior Championships – Small Countries Division with a clear straight sets victory to lead the final pool in Motherwell after three rounds of action.
The previously unbeaten Scots were put to the sword as Cyprus raced to an 8-1 lead at the first break, and were unable to maintain any level of pressure on the Cypriots, for whom wing-spiker Giorgios Moschovakis was again the star man in attack, scoring 18 winners from 32 attempts,aided by ten service aces from the Cypriot team as a whole. Scotland were best served by middle blocker Connor Boyle, who added two service aces and two kill blocks to his four kills on the day.
Cyprus coach Kostas Delikostas was delighted with the performance of his team, as he feared Scotland would pose a major threat to his side’s ambitions. Deilkostas stated “We were one level ahead of Scotland both technically and tactically today, and I felt our great start won us the game”
Scotland counterpart Thomas Dowens felt his team had been too conservative but that the team could regroup for the matches to come. Dowens, coaching Scotland in their inaugural SCD Junior campaign opined “These are fantastic learning opportunities for the players to deal with the pressure of multi-day competitions, so we need to lose in order to be able to win in future. The theme of the tournament has been learning how to play with passion, and the players are already doing this, but we still need to learn how to finish off the job. I felt we could have won the game today if we had been able to make a more positive start. We were superb against San Marino yesterday, but we need to maintain the high level over more than one match”.
San Marino summarily dealt with Northern Ireland to post their first win of the tournament, 25-11; 25-21; 25-12, while Luxembourg had the luxury of being able to utilise their whole squad – the youngest in the tournament with an average age of 16 – in a comprehensive victory over Ireland.
As the tournament moves into its latter stages, Cyprus appear to have done enough to have the inside line on victory, while the closing fixture, between Scotland and Luxembourg may well determine the silver medal position.
Tomorrow’s round of matches see Scotland face up to Ireland at 8.30pm