5 years on since his last appearance for the Senior Men’s National Team, setter Marc McLaughlin is back in the squad for next week’s SCA finals. Marc left Scotland in 2017 to build a professional volleyball career with stints representing Essex, IBB Polonia, Durham Palatinates, and currently, MEAFC Miskolc in Hungary. There is no doubt that Marc’s experience will be an asset to the squad after gaining experience in the Hungarian play-offs, CEV Cup and Champions League qualification.
Marc, who captained MEAFC Miskolc this season, finished 1st in the league for service aces. We caught up with him to hear his thoughts ahead of next week.
Are you excited to be representing your country after 5 years away?
Absolutely, it’s been a long 5 years away from the National Team and I feel I am a very different player and person to the one that last played against England at Northumbria University in May 2018. The atmosphere in this team has been great which has allowed for players coming from overseas to fit in and get comfortable quickly and has been genuinely one of the most enjoyable national team groups to be part of.
How does it feel to be preparing for a major competition on home soil?
It is obviously a privilege to be able to represent Scotland on home soil as it’s not something many national team players get to do. I am lucky enough to say that this will be my second time after being involved in the U20 squad that won Bronze at Ravenscraig in 2012. I’m also looking forward to seeing people from the Scottish Volleyball community that I haven’t seen for years both players and former coaches and hope to catch up with as many as possible over the 3-days.
How do you think it will compare to the U20 tournament in 2012?
This current squad is filled with players who have progressed through every level of the National Team program from players that won team or individual awards at UK School Games or at the Small Countries Division event in Luxembourg, 2014, where the team won Gold or in Cyprus, 2016, where the team collected a Bronze. These junior events help players develop and allow for comparison against larger volleyball nations and show we have the capacity to not only compete but win. Which is exactly what this team expects to do this time round at the senior event on home soil.
What’s your take on the opposition?
Unfortunately, due the limited international games played by SCA nations game tape isn’t something that we have a lot of. We expect every team to bring the best squad they have available and are confident that with the players in our squad we will have enough variability and efficiency to compete with all of them. Obviously, we expect San Marino to be strong again this year after winning the competition in the Faroe Islands only last year. It will be the first time we have competed against Luxembourg for a while, and we do know they have some talented and physical players playing professionally in Europe that will provide tough opposition. Northern Ireland is another team we don’t know much about, but I have played against them at junior level previously and know that they also have some capable and physical players.
Is the team ready to compete?
In the last few sessions things have begun to click more and more, finding rhythm in both our side-out and transition game. Of course, things have been far from perfect over the last 5 weeks as we have at times found ourselves forcing some situations due to not having our full squad available yet. The chance for games against England this weekend in Durham will be the perfect opportunity to iron out those issues so that when the final pieces come together in the first game against Northern Ireland, we are ready to compete.
Tickets are still available for next weeks matches with Scotland in action twice on the opening day against Northern Ireland and Luxembourg.