SWNTP: Decision Day

The CEV 2015 European Championship (Small Countries Division) Qualifier is only 25 days away. It seems to have crept up quietly but it is most definitely here! Selection time always hammers home that fact. It’s a reality for the Coaching Staff and it is very much a reality for the players themselves. Just ask one of them the next time you bump into them.

From the moment the last ball is played in that final practice session before selection until the time when the player receives her email from the Team Manager, everything remains edgy. Even the more experienced players know that there are no guarantees as they wait patiently (or not as the case may be) for news of whether they have made it or not.

As the players headed home from Calderhead High School last Saturday afternoon the Coaching Staff sat down to select the 12 players who would represent their country on home soil in a bid to qualify for the SCD Final in Liechtenstein in 2015. Every Coach faced with this task says the same thing…it is the most difficult part of National Team Coaching because there will always be some very disappointed players. But we are involved in performance sport and we have to make these tough choices, so the task has to be done.

The players in the squad have worked tirelessly over the past 8 months to learn how to play the game. That may seem a rather strange statement to make at this level but what it means is that their understanding of the relationships that exist during gameplay has improved. They are much better equipped at focusing on what they can control in order to minimise the likelihood of the unexpected. Their ability to communicate key information to each other during play has developed way beyond where it was way back in October. They still have to improve technically in order to become more consistent but that is too simplistic a view to take. They are becoming better Volleyball players because they are really beginning to understand how to play Volleyball and all the complexities that exist within the game.

Their work outside of the court has also been exemplary. Some of it has been done internally within the squad while other work is being regularly shared across the social network. Every member of the squad recognises the significance of playing in front of a home support. They all understand that this is a special occasion, one that can be shared with friends, family and other Scottish Volleyball enthusiasts, but at the same time they all know that they have to be quite selfishly focused on the job in hand. Our planning leading into the tournament and during the event itself is taking shape. For just over four days we will be in a very tight bubble which will allow us to give our full attention to what we need to do. We will minimise the distractions and concentrate only on what we need to in order to make sure that every time we step onto court during the tournament we are as prepared as we can be.

Which brings things back round to the 12 players who have been given the opportunity to take on this challenge. They are:

Setter Jo Morgan City of Edinburgh
Libero Laura McReady Su Ragazzi
Off-Setter Alex Dickenson Su Ragazzi
Linsey Bunten QTS Troon Team Ayrshire
Left Sided Hitter Katie Barbour QTS Troon Team Ayrshire
Lynne Beattie Team Northumbria
Caitlin McEwan North Lanarkshire
Kirsty McLean Su Ragazzi
Jen Thom City of Edinburgh (Captain)
Middle Hitter Mhairi Agnew Su Ragazzi
Carly McKinlay Su Ragazzi
Catherine Smy Aberdonia
Reserve Nicola McKenzie Edinburgh Jets
Naomi Symonds City of Edinburgh

The squad represents a strong blend of experience and youth and very much has the capacity to grow and develop further.

All that now remains are the final practice and competition opportunities before we face up to Malta at 19:00 on Friday 6 June. This coming Sunday (18 May) sees us face the ‘form’ team from the latter part of the National League season, Edinburgh Jets. The match is being held at The PEAK (Stirling), the SWNTP’s home base, with first ball served at 13:00 Further practice sessions will be held both midweek and on subsequent weekends with the final practice match against a visiting American Collegiate select at Bell’s Sport Centre on Wednesday 4 June with the first ball served at 19:30. If you’d like a sneak preview of what will be coming up at the beginning of June then why don’t you pop along and practice your own supporter’s routine for Perth!

The task of qualifying for the Final in 2015 will be a challenging one. It is heightened by the fact that we will be doing so in front of our home support. But we also know that this will give us an extra edge and we will be working to put the final polish on a performance that everyone will be able to enjoy.

The U20 Men and U19 Women have already set the standard. We have no intention of letting that standard slip!

Craig Faill
Head Coach
Scotland Senior Women’s Programme
12 May 2014