Ayrshire sides edge JNL U15 in thrilling Finals

Wishaw SC was again the venue for the Junior National League Under 15 play-off finals and the facility was set-up well to encourage a great day of junior development and performance.

Both girls semi-finals kicked off the morning with Ayrshire vs Lanarkshire ties. Undefeated Marr College taking on North Lanarkshire and Marr College B taking on Team Lanarkshire.
There was some great volleyball on show in both games but 1st and 2nd seeds Marr A and Team Lanarkshire made it through to the final with comfortable 2-0 victories.

The boys semi-finals saw a repeat of the placings in the U18 final four. Undefeated South Ayrshire’s young guns overcame Cavalry Park NUVOC despite some spirited defensive play from Bill Stobie’s youngsters. The Queensferry based boys put in a very spirited and quite outstanding display to have 3 sets points in the first set. The experience of the Team Lanarkshire shown through however, side as they clawed back the deficit and ran out comfortable 2-0 victors.

There were lots of support at the venue for all teams with a great atmosphere being created especially from Lanarkshire who were the only club to have teams of both sex reach the play-offs.

It was over to the 3rd place play-offs though and the competition stepped up a gear.

There was an Edinburgh derby in the boys play-off and CP Nuvoc took the positives from their performance against South into their match and deservedly took the first set.
The willingness from both teams’ players to strive to keep the ball off the floor was impressive and there was lots of long rallies for the crowd to cheer. It was this defence that edged the tie into City’s favour and they took 3rd place with a 15-9 win the 3rd set.

In the girls final We saw a repeat of the very first game of the new JNL season back at the start of January and the level of improvement and the development of the game has been remarkable. The game itself was a great spectacle to watch, as it also went to the full three sets, with North Lanarkshire edging out the tie break and the girls from St.Maurices took the 3rd place in the competition.

Thanks to the great support of the Wishaw SC staff, we had a smooth changeover to a show-court format for the girls final between Marr College and Team Lanarkshire. 19 year old Liam Murphy took his debut as announcer while 17 year old Matthew Russell took to be stand as 1st referee.

Despite their dominance in the regular season Jess Reid’s Marr College found themselves a set down as confidence oozed from Team Lanarkshire as they controlled the ball and set up consistent attacks to take the set 25-13.
Lead by captain Corrie Gwynne Marr looked like a new team and strong serving lead them to take the next two sets 25-16 and 15-6 and cap a very successful season for the school side.

Thanks to three very close 3 sets matches the day was getting on but the enthusiasm and support of the supporters got louder.
The boys final started at a furious pace with South Ayrshire managing to maintain a slender two point advantage all the way to the conclusion of the first set, with clever use of the middle attack to take the set 25-23.

This narrow loss did not deter the young Guns from Team Lanarkshire as some impressive and consistent kills from outside hitters Conor Walker and Charlie MacFarlane stealing the show. However, it was the defensive skills that ultimately turned the set in Lanarkshire’s favour as they turned round a 21-23 deficient to take the match to a deciding set.

Creidt is due to all involved in the final decider as no sign of nerves were shown and the quality of volleyball just got higher. there wasn’t much to separate the sides as they tied at 13-13, 14-14 and 15-15 before Schools cup finalist Zac Lynn went up to serve for South and lead them to a 16-14 victory.

The standard of play in the final was encouraging, however, the most pleasing aspect was the learning experience that was clear to see with the young players taking on officiating, scoring, line judging duties. The attitude they showed to all the tasked presented to them was very positive. A big thank you is due to Douglas Orr and Nora Gonzalez for helping with mentoring the referee and scorers throughout the day.

The presentations of the awards were perform by Youth and Schools representative Claire Crowe and GB women’s captain and Olympian Lynne Beattie. With Corrie Gywnne of Marr College picking up the girls MVP award and Team Lanarkshire Conor Walker picking up the boys award.

A massive thank you is due to the referees, volunteers, presenters and Wishaw SC for helping to make such a great day of junior volleyball.

A special mention for Lynne Marshall for being there the whole day and taking the brilliant photos which can be viewed here.

I can’t wait for next season to start…

Graeme Spowart
Club and Participation Development Officer