On another perfect morning for beach volleyball, England women were first up again, this time with the unenviable task of facing top seeds Sweden. Grimson/Lazard faced Sweden’s first pair of Grawender/Lundqvist in game one. Sweden made a rapid start, opening up a 5 point lead at the first change of ends. The rest of the set continued to go to form, as the Swede’s dominated the front court, winning the set 21-10. England fared better in the second set taking the lead at 7-6, but the experienced pair from Sweden raised their level to see out the set 21-16. Dampney and Leaf took to the court knowing that nothing but a win would do. They duly obliged with a narrow 22-20, 21-18 victory in 38 minutes, sending the tie into a Golden match playoff.
Dampney/Leaf played off against Grawender/Lundqvist in a match that had the crowd on the edge of their seats throughout. The first two sets were shared, with the English pulling back a small deficit in the second after the Swedes looked to have the match already won. The momentum stayed with the home nation in the third, with every point vigorously cheered by the crowd. Both teams had match points and both teams let them go begging. Sweden finally managed to make one count, sealing a place in Round 3 as pool winners.
Over on court 2, Ireland once again found it tough as they lost 2-0 against a Slovakian side who were determined to earn another shot at England in 2nd/3rd place play off. Despite the heavy defeats, Ireland’s Roisin Allen was still in good sprits. “It’s been a brilliant experience for all of us. It’s our first international tournament and we’ve loved having the opportunity to play against players of this standard.”
England’s men followed the women on court one. They were up against a Switzerland outfit that all play regularly on the World Tour. Weaver/Smith went down fighting against Chevallier/Strausser 21-13, 21-15. Sheaf/Gregory once again were up to the task though, beating Kovatsch/Kissling 21-19, 21-17 to send the tie into a 3rdrubber. In the decider, Sheaf/Gregory recorded one of their best wins in any competition, beating Chevallier/Strausser in straight sets 21-19, 24-22 to send the England men through to Round 3. Sebastien Chevallier was complimentary about Sheaf/Gregory’s performance. “They played amazingly, really put pressure on us the whole game and earned their victory. The competition was a really nice event, the weather was perfect and the hotel was amazing.”
Running alongside England’s victory was the 3rd/4th place playoff match on court 2. Ireland were yet to win a set but finally had something to cheer about as Church/Brennan won the opening match 20-22, 21-18, 15-9. McArdle/Ikpekha were unable to make it two wins in a row, forcing Church/Brennan and Ihnat/Meciar to playoff in a Golden match. It was a closely fought affair, which resulted in the Irish claiming their maiden international victory. The 2nd/3rd place playoff was a repeat of yesterday’s 2nd match; Ireland vs Switzerland. The result was also the same, with the Swiss winning both games in straight sets, joining England in Round 3.
The final game of the day was England women’s 2nd/3rd place playoff against Slovakia. After the opening two matches were split, all that was left was a repeat of the Golden match from the day before. The English pair of Dampney/Leaf had already played an extra match which may have been telling in the final result. The Slovakians avenged their previous defeat, winning in straight sets 21-13, 21-17 booking their place in Round 3. For England, it was a painful defeat. One more point in the Golden match against Sweden would have put them top of the group and straight into Round 3 but instead they find themselves going through to Round 2 in third place. Jess Grimson was positive despite the narrow loss. “It was a great experience to play in front of our home crowd. Hopefully this will help our development and we look forward to representing England again in the near future.”
Volleyball England would like to thank all the volunteers, officials and all the staff involved at LeAF Academy for their efforts in organising and running the event.
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