A total of twelve teams were present at the U18 Junior National League Play-Offs on Sunday 14th December 2014. Parents, friends, locals and teams supporting their club mates resulted in a fantastic atmosphere which was sustained throughout the entire day.
In the boys division the semi-finals went with the seeding from the league campaign. It wasn’t completely straightforward as South Ayrshire’s Diagonal Spiker, Zac Lynn had to bravely limp through the match to help his side into the final after an injury at the net.
The girls division semi-final was an exact repeat of the seeding from the previous year and the matches also followed the seeding pattern with the experience of the players from Marr College A and Lanarkshire Ragazzi shining through.
The introduction of the girls B division brought some breath-taking enthusiasm to the JNL this season and the standard of three touch volleyball, commitment and team spirit showed during the play-offs was extraodinary. South Ayrshire were looking to achieve an all South final and it looked to be heading that way as South B fought back from 19-24 down to win the first set 26-24 with some courageous serving and defence.
On the other court South A had squeezed past 4th seeds and JNL debutants Cavalry Park NUVOC. NUVOC and Edinburgh came back to win the 2nd set in their games to take both semi-finals to a tie-break. South A managed to find another gear to get passed NUVOC and Team Edinburgh edged out South B to make the final.
There was great encouragement in general from the 18 coaches who were present to play the right way and the hard work these coaches are putting in definitely paid off with some very encouraging displays of volleyball over the course of the day.
There were vuvuzelas, air horns, clappers and lots of voices all helping to create a thunderous atmosphere accross both courts and the support reached new levels when it came to the finals.
Lanarkshire Ragazzi took on Marr College A to continue their cup final rivalry, with the two sides having contested the JNL U18 final and Junior Super Cup finals with the teams having won two trophies each in U18 competition in the past two years. The match did not disappoint as some strong serving and good setting choices from Ragazzi setter Lucy Scouller allowed their side to gain an early lead taking the first set 25-14. Marr College inevitibly came back in the 2nd set with some clever hitting to win the set 25-22. The tie-break was very tense with lots of long rallies as both teams gave everything to keep the ball alive but it was Lanarkshire Ragazzi that managed to turn the rallies into points more effectively and ran out 15-12 winners to claim their first U18 JNL trophy.
The question following the girl’s final was whether the Ragazzi boys could use the girl’s performance as inspiration to help them retain their Junior National League title. It looked that way after the first set with Lanarkshire gaining and early advantage and maintain it to win the first set 25-20 with Marc McLaughlin and Blair Gillies proving effective hitting options for Ragazzi.
There was one main difference from the 1st set and that was South Ayrshire’s defence. Some inspired pick-ups and Blocking epitomosied a galvanised South Ayrshire team. Lanarkshire didn’t have an answer to the outstanding block defence of the South Ayrshire Boys as South won the set 25-18. Another epic tie-break ensued as the teams went point for point until the change of ends, were a little bit of extra serving pressure and some big hits from Lanarkshire secured the set 15-10 and the JNL championship.
After two epic finals and 3rd place play-off matches, if there was any pressure felt by the B division teams to follow on, they certainly didn’t show it. The rallies continued to amaze as no team was willing to give any ground. The strong passing units and defence of all teams continued to dominate the final as South Ayrshire edged out Team Edinburgh 26-24 in the first set and then followed up with a 25-22 win in the second set to become the first ever B division champions.
All four teams in the division were exemplary on and off the court throughout the day and it was such a great day to have so many teams, players, coaches and parents involved.
Many Thanks to Paul McPate and all at ISE for hosting the finals and their assistance with the event. All the local referees did a fantastic job all day long and thanks to Albert Jaster who mentored and assessed referees and scorers throughout the day.
It was no doubt a long day but it was a fanstastic festival of junior volleyball with over 100 juniors competing in the competition and all in a brilliant competitive and friendly spirit.
Club & Participation Development Officer
Boys Junior National League – Play-off Results
|Semi-Final||Lanarkshire Ragazzi||2-0||Cavalry Park NUVOC||25-12||25-12|
|Semi-Final||South Ayrshire||2-0||City of Edinburgh||25-16||25-11|
|3rd Place||Cavalry Park NUVOC||2-1||City of Edinburgh||23-25||25-19||15-12|
|JNL Final||Lanarkshire Ragazzi||2-1||South Ayrshire||25-19||18-25||15-10|
Girls Junior National League – Play-off Results
|Semi-Final||Lanarkshire Ragazzi||2-0||City of Edinburgh||25-17||25-19|
|Semi-Final||Marr College A||2-0||Marr College B||25-9||25-10|
|3rd Place||City of Edinburgh||2-0||Marr College B||25-17||25-18|
|JNL Final||Lanarkshire Ragazzi||2-1||Marr College A||25-14||22-25||15-12|
Girls Division B Junior National League – Play-Off Results
|Semi-Final||South Ayrshire A||2-1||Cavalry Park NUVOC||25-20||23-25||15-7|
|Semi-Final||Team Edinburgh||2-1||South Ayrshire B||24-26||25-19||15-13|
|3rd Place||South Ayrshire B||2-1||Cavalry Park NUVOC||25-22||19-25||15-9|
|JNL Final||South Ayrshire A||2-0||Team Edinburgh||26-24||25-22|