The inaugural Final 4 Playoffs took place this weekend with some extraordinary matches taking place over the 2 days of play. The Main Hall at Wishaw was decorated spectacularly by our Special Events Commission and the Lesser Hall was ready for play too. The Playoffs brought out the performance element we all want to see in Scottish Volleyball with 6 out of the 14 matches going to 5 sets.
Saturday morning saw the arrival of the first teams to compete in the Women’s Division 1 Playoffs and Men’s Division 2 Playoffs. The matches were fierce and extremely competitive. City of Edinburgh took on their cup final opponents Edinburgh Jets in the first match of the day and managed to overcome their Edinburgh counterparts 3-1. Aileen Hall’s NLVC took to the court against Troon Team Ayrshire hoping to cause an upset. The Lanarkshire team fought hard but couldn’t stop the firepower of Troon going down 3-1. City of Edinburgh II took the first 2 sets against Bellshill Cardinals in their Division 2 semi final but that wasn’t enough to stop the experienced players who used all their determination to not only pull them back to 2-2 but win the 5th and progress to the final. In the final they would meet Beacon after the Granite City men pulled off an exceptional display against Glasgow Mets II. Beacon’s Kenny Gilchrist said ‘That is the best performance by a long way this season’.
The Afternoon matches welcomed the Men’s Division 1 Playoffs and the Women’s Division 2 Playoffs. In the Lesser Hall, Edinburgh Jets II took on Glasgow International in what was a tense but competitive match. The Edinburgh side took the match to the Glasgow side and emerged victorious 3-1. Dundee and NUVOC were next up on court and alot of fight was displayed in the match but it was Dundee who took the match with a thrilling 5 set victory. In the Main Hall, City of Edinburgh Men marched into the final with a convincing 3-0 win over Bon Accord but their opponents in the final didn’t have it easy. Kilmarnock Blaze and Edinburgh Jets had a preview of their cup final next Sunday with an enthralling match up. Kilmarnock bossed the first set only to be pegged back in the next 2 sets by Jets. Kilmarnock came back fighting in the 4th set to set up a 5th set finale. Kilmarnock were 11-7 up when errors creeped into their match and finally lost the 5th set with a service error allowing Jets to progress to the final.
Playoff Finals day started with a bang with Beacon taking on Bellshill Cardinals for the Division 2 Playoff Championship at stake. Beacon had an early start again leaving at 5am but the long drive south affected their performance as they could not maintain the heroics of the day before and the skill and control of Bellshill allowed them to ease to a 3-0 victory. Edinburgh Jets II and Dundee then took to the court to compete for the Women’s championship. Jets came out firing winning the first set comfortably but Dundee came back and tied it at 1-1. Jets refocused and coach Seva Shneer reiterated the tactics and the team responded by taking the next 2 sets and winning 3-1 and claiming promotion to Women’s Division 1.
City of Edinburgh took on Troon Team Ayrshire for the 3rd time in 4 weeks in the final of the Women’s Division 1 Playoffs. The capital side started very strongly with great hitting by outside spikers Mel Coutts and Jen Thom. With Troon missing influential players Lynsey Bunten and Gillian Lyall, you could be forgiven for thinking Edinburgh would win this match convincingly but Troon had other ideas. Great play by Claire Ramage and blocking by Kay Wheatley helped the team put pressure on the National League Champions to win the 3rd set. Troon fought until the end but Edinburgh’s firepower was too much and some excellent distribution by setter Natalie Durkaca allowed Edinburgh to take the match 3-1.
The Men’s final was an Edinburgh derby. City of Edinburgh came out the blocks on fire with Jamie McHardy and Phil Tully scoring at will after good linkage with setter Graeme Spowart. Jets really struggled in the first set to cope with Edinburgh’s hitting weight and succumbed the first set 27-25. Jets bounced back in sets 2 and 3 with some excellent play from Marcin Mosinski, Marcin Krakowski and Paul Glissov. Jets defence really made it hard for Edinburgh to score with some great pick ups by Lenard Soberiacki and Martyn Johnstone. This allowed Jets to take a 2-1 lead. Edinburgh responded from the service line with some excellent jump serving from Jamie McHardy and tactical serving from Michael Penny. They levelled the match at 2-2 with a convincing 25-12 set score. The lottery of the 5th set swung both ways. But errors at crucial times from Edinburgh and spectacular pick up by Jets libero Soberiacki meant Jets had the upper hand and ran out 15-10 winners in the 5th set to claim their first ever Playoff championship.
The first ever Playoff Weekend is now over and having had time to reflect on the level of competition and also the number of matches competed for in such a short space of time, this was just a joy to be a part of. Congratulations to all the teams who were successful and commiserations to the teams who did not quite make it.
Congratulations to the Division 1 Best Player Award Winners below:
Women’s Division 1
Most Valuable Player – Jen Thom (City of Edinburgh VC)
Best Setter – Natalie Durkaca (City of Edinburgh VC)
Best Spiker – Agnes Michalowska (Edinburgh Jets VC)
Best Passer – Katie Barbour (Troon Team Ayrshire VC)
Best Blocker – Kamila Zakoutska (City of Edinburgh VC)
Men’s Division 1
MVP – Paul Glissov (Edinburgh Jets VC)
Best Setter – Martyn Johnstone (Edinburgh Jets VC)
Best Spiker – Jamie McHardy (City of Edinburgh VC )
Best Passer – Barry McGuigan (City of Edinburgh VC)
Best Blocker – Mariusz Chudzik (City of Edinburgh VC)
Women’s Division 1
1st Place – City of Edinburgh
2nd Place – Troon Team Ayrshire
3rd Place – Edinburgh Jets
Men’s Division 1
1st Place – Edinburgh Jets
2nd Place – City of Edinburgh
3rd Place – Kilmarnock Blaze
Women’s Division 2
Playoff Champions – Edinburgh Jets II
Men’s Division 2
Playoff Champions – Bellshill Cardinals