Student competition opens beach season in style

The competitive Scottish Beach Volleyball season got off to a flying start at the weekend when 60 students gathered at the West Sands, St Andrews for the Scottish Student Beach Championships.  Blessed with a dry, calm day, the students enjoyed seven hours play across 7 courts, with a real mix of beach newcomers & more seasoned players (however with three Brazilian players present, the event was guaranteed to have some expertise on the sand!).

The variation in experience & ability was evident in some of the pool matches, however those that were playing on the sand for the first time did well in picking up the fundamentals of the game & later consolation pool matches ensured that they finished the day’s play much more competent than at the start.

In the women’s event the four strongest pairs delivered highly competitive semi-final ties, with both matches going down to the wire in the deciding third set.  Lavreckyte & Tussis (St Andrews) triumphed in their derby against Dundee opponents Velten & Noguera, while event favourites McKenzie & Donnachie (Abertay) were pipped by the fast improving Clarkson & Merti from Stirling.  Surprisingly Clarkson & Merti found little resistance from their St Andrews opponents in the final and their consistency and accurate attack play saw them pick up the Scottish Student title 21 – 6, 21 – 12.

A healthy entry of 15 pairs in the men’s event ensured plenty of qualifying pool action.  However although some players struggled to adjust to the outdoor game, they were keen to learn & the level of play undoubtedly improved as the day progressed.  There was a surprise result in the semi-final, with Dundee pairing Wagner & De Silva disposing of a strong Strathclyde partnership of Strachan & Micallef-Eynaud over three sets.  This set up a Dundee derby against Abertay’s Boyle & McLaughlin – both of whom were playing competitively on the beach for the first time.  The Abertay pair edged a very tight first set 24-12 before Wagner & De Silva set up a final set cliff-hanger with a comprehensive 21-12 second set win.  However Boyle’s control in passing & hitting power made the difference in the final set to secure a 15-12 victory and lift the SSS title.

Although the SSS Beach Championships take place at a time of the year when degree exams take centre stage, the excellent entry numbers & energy demonstrated by the competitors augurs well for the coming beach season.  Special mention should be made of the Edinburgh University recreational players who played their hearts out against one another throughout the day & really showed how much fun playing on the beach can be.  Thanks to St Andrews University VC for their help in setting up the courts at the start of the day & to Jamie Salvin for officiating throughout the day & providing advice &  guidance to the new beach players.
Full Results can be found HERE