Cyprus Hit The Heights

Perth, Scotland, June 8, 2014.

Cyprus won Pool A of the CEV European Championships Small Countries Division by beating Scotland 25-17, 25-23, 22-25, 25-18 to finish their qualifying campaign unbeaten. Scotland also qualify for the finals in second place.

Scotland started impressively, strong in service and inventive on offence with Lynne Beattie varying her attack and Linsey Bunten also showing her power. Scotland led 8-4 at the technical time-out and went on to take a 17-14 lead. But Cyprus dug in – libero Christiana David summing up their spirit with a fantastic pick-up to prevent and explosive hit from Beattie finding the floor – and Cyprus reeled off 11 unanswered points to take the set 25-17 as Scotland’s serve-receive game failed to function.

Cyprus led 8-6 at the first technical time-out in the second set but Scotland hit back to lead 16-14 at the second with Jen Thom scoring off the block. Cyprus pulled away at the end of the set – Scotland saving two set points – before Cypriot captain Antri Iordanou settled it through the middle 25-23.

Scotland coach Craig Faill was forced into an early time-out in the third set with his team 5-3 down and his team responded with the block holding up and Beattie and Bunten hitting well to lead 14-13. The teams traded points at the end of the set but Scotland edged it 25-22 when left-hander Zoi Konstantopoulou was long with her spike.
Cyprus hit back to lead 8-1 in the fourth set, Konstantopoulou with an intelligent hit to take it to the technical time-out.  Scotland fought back to 10-13 but a clever second-ball attack from setter Ioanna Leonidou put Cyprus 19-12 ahead and they saw out the set 25-18 to clinch victory on a service error.

Cyprus head coach Petros Patsias said: “We started strong and I am happy with the win. My team is not professional and, if they want to play at a higher level than the Small Nations, they have to think professionally. We let Scotland back into it in the third set and I told my players to relax.”

Scotland coach Craig Faill commented: “We gave them errors at key points when we had momentum. The first set was the killer for me as we made mistakes and gave them the points. That put us down a bit and left us chasing the match.

“I was pleased with the way we came back in the third set to win it but then we went 8-1 down in the fourth and we have to learn from that. But the goal hasn’t changed for us and I still think we can beat Cyprus in the finals in Liechtenstein.”