Main pic: Chilled Photography Limited
The 2019 Home Nations Junior Beach Volleyball Championships took place 9-11th August at the Cardiff Beach Volleyball Centre. In only its second year, the event has grown from strength to strength with 64 young international players competing for the title.
The format follows the Continental Cup (beach volleyball Olympic qualifier) with each team made up of two pairs. Each pair plays a match resulting in a score of either 1-1 or 2-0. If its 2-0 then the match is over. If it’s 1-1 then a golden set to 15 points has to be played to decide the winner. In the golden set any one of the four players can form the tie-breaking pair.
Over three days, teams from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England took part in 56 matches to determine the winners. The play began with two pools of four, which determined seeding for the next days’ play. This was followed by a double elimination knockout round, followed by play offs for all positions from 1st to 8th. During the three days of competition, 11 of the 28 men’s matches were decided on by golden sets compared to only five the women’s.
In the women’s final it was a repeat of last year with England 1 versus England 2. However, this year England 2 couldn’t take it to a golden set and England 1 were the clear winners. Fresh from her NEVZA U19 Gold Medal, Katie Keefe with partnerLisa Canevari (NEZVA U17 Bronze) beat Isabelle Tucker (also NEZVA U17 Bronze) and Leah Blight in the first match of the dual 21-12, 21-18.
In the second part of the women’s final, England 1’s Beth Morgan and Carla Hulme beat England 2’s Frankie Frize and Georgia McGovern and even with some tough resistance at the end of the second set, England 1 managed to avoid the tie break winning 21-14, 21-18.
The bronze medal showdown took place between England 3 and Scotland 1. After a nailbiting first match, Scotland 1’s Karolina Wrobleswka and Megan Hall triumphed over England 3’s Alice Brand and Molly Saunders 16-21, 21-19, 15-13. With the pressure on for the second half of the faceoff, England 3’s Emilia Vakeva-Baird and Kate Hill-Anning, managed to fight off the very evenly matched Scotland 1 second pair of Fynn Donaldson and Emi-Mirella Munoz, winning 21-18, 21-19, resulting in the need for a golden set to determine the bronze medal and fourth place positions. In a very exciting golden set, both teams opted for a mix up using a combination of players from both pair 1 and pair 2. In the end England 3’s Saunders and Hill-Anning won versus Scotland 1’s Hall and Munoz 15-10, and the bronze medal went to England 3.
Final standings for women were as follows:
1) ENG 1
2) ENG 2
3) ENG 3
4) SCO 1
5) SCO 2
8) SCO 3
The men’s final saw Scotland 1 facing off against England 2. In the first pairing, Scotland 1’s David Mexson and Euan Fraser used their experience to defeat Enrique Bello and Jake Saunders 21-18, 21-16.
In the second part of the men’s final, Scotland 1’s Yusef Butt and Harris Ritchie played against England 2’s William Evans and Ben Osborne. After a rocky start, the second set was looking hopeful for the England 2 pairing, but the Scots managed to keep them at bay winning 21-11, 21-16 and securing the gold medal for Scotland 1.
Wales and England 1 fought hard in the bronze medal match, which like the women’s bronze match, went to a golden set. First up in this match for Wales was Adam Sully and Michael Bryan playing against England 1’s James Ledbury and Andrew Pearson. The England 1 team demonstrated consistent dominance in both sets, beating the Welsh team 21-14, 21-14.
The second pairing saw the Morgan brothers, John and Robert, representing Wales versus Ben Gladstone and Oliver Quick from England 1. The Morgan brothers, who showed great teamwork and synchronicity throughout the competition, came through for the Welsh team 21-15, 21-16 and forcing the bronze medal to be decided by a golden set. In the tie breaking golden set, Wales opted to for a mix-up of John Morgan and Adam Sully against the England 1 first pair of Ledbury and Pearson. The Welsh pair came through for their country to clinch the bronze, with a final score of 15-10.
Final standings for men were as follows:
1) SCO 1
2) ENG 2
4) ENG 1
6) SCO 2
7) ENG 3
8) SCO 3
The Spirit of the Competition award went to Orla Hamilton (U14, Scotland 3) for her continued positivity and great attitude throughout the competition.
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