The Flying Scots International returned to University of St Andrews for its second year, this time with an additional team. In the boys competition, after beating their rivals Flying Scots West in the final last year, Flying Scots East were back looking to defend their title. Northern Ireland were looking to upgrade their bronze medal from 2018 with the goal of making the final, whilst North West England were also aiming for a strong showing. And last but not least, Ireland were the new team on the block looking to mix-up the competition.
Meanwhile in the girls’ competition, without the defending champions, Flying Scots East were the team to beat. But the two other Scottish teams of Flying Scots West and Caledonia East weren’t going to give them an easy run to the final. Then hoping to spoil the Girls’ Scottish party were the returning bronze medal winners Northern Ireland.
The Boys competition began with the match that would eventually be repeated as the final, with Flying Scots East sneaking the third set 16-14 against Northern Ireland. The East boys would be pushed beyond 25 points again as they scraped past Ireland 27-25, 25-22 straight after. Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland girls began their campaign strongly with a convincing 2-0 win over Caledonia East. Friday continued with every match finishing 2-0 that said, in only 3 of the 12 sets, did the loser not reach 20 points. This further confirmed how close the competition was in 2019.
Saturday began with an Irish derby that could be heard from Leuchars, whilst Caledonia East pushed Flying Scots West hard on the girls’ court. North West England then shocked Flying Scots West to win 2-0 and keep alive their chance of making the final. Despite beating Northern Ireland in their final match North West England did not make the final, as a better result against Flying Scots East in their first match guaranteed Northern Ireland would be playing for gold. The Boys and Girls East teams were busy cruising their way to both finals, whilst Flying Scots West beat Caledonia East to claim the second spot in the Girls’ Final.
That set everything up for Finals Day on Saturday. The bleacher seating was brought out and hall set-up to put all focus on Court 1. The day began with the first of three 2-1 results, as Flying Scots West boys came from behind to win sets two and three by the tightest of margins (25-23, 21-19) to give themselves a chance to win the bronze medal. Sadly, it was not to be as Ireland held Flying Scots West off in both sets to claim boys’ bronze. Next it was the Girls 3rd/4th Play-off, and after their group match on Friday and a bounce match on Saturday, Northern Ireland and Caledonia East would be playing one more time. Strong rally play in set one gave Caledonia East a 1-0 lead before Northern Ireland reversed the 25-16 score to draw level at 1-1. With the crowd split between support Caledonia East and Northern Ireland, it was the Girls in green who pulled ahead in the third set to take the bronze.
Following the Bronze Medal Ceremony and Super Seven Awards, it was time for the Boys’ Final, as the undefeated Flying Scots East took on the only team to take a set off them, Northern Ireland. Flying Scots East looked strong in the first set, making a couple of kill blocks on their way to a 25-19 win. But Northern Ireland came back stronger and began to find their rhythm to take the match to a deciding set, 25-22. Northern Ireland flew out of the gates in set 3 to lead 7-2, before being pulled back and overtaken as Flying Scots East had match point. A service error at 14-11 gave Sam Neill the chance to pull Northern Ireland back into the set and eventually win the match 16-14. That all left only one match to be decided, the Girls Gold Medal match. Flying Scots East quickly opened a 6 point lead by the first Time-out at 10-4, which became 16-6 not soon after. But the West grew into the match, with the final score 25-15. In set two, it was the West who were fast out the blocks, leading 4-1, they kept a lead of at least three points until 14-11, at which point they were pulled back to 15-14. It was 19-19 when Jessica Gillies stepped up and served out the rest of the match.
The Flying Scots team would like to thank all of the players and coaches for all their commitment throughout the programme, as well as the International Teams for attending again. The volunteer team who helped with social media and officiating for allowing us to put on such a large event. Yvonne Kennedy and the Friends of the Flying Scots Group for organising t-shirts, paying for the water bottles and medals and crucially, running the refreshments stall.
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