Ashcombe Under 15’s Fight into Third in Southern Finals
Ashcombe Volleyball Club’s under 15 team fought hard in the Southern Divisional Finals of the Volleyball England Under 15 cup to finish third in Bournemouth on Saturday 21st March. They faced teams from Richmond, Wessex and London Polonia Volleyball Club’s and all three games were close and competitive.
Ashcombe’s first encounter was against hosts Wessex who tested Ashcombe early on with some good hitting and consistent passing. Ashcombe made it tough for Wessex by providing their setters with good balls from a steady pass. Andrea Tudorache scored an ace from her serve with Kirsty Gaston also producing a number of fast, flat serves which the Wessex defence struggled to deal with. Wessex took the first set 25-19.
In the second set Ashcombe again served well with Illona McDonald and Katy Lay both putting together good runs of serve. Issie Russell made life hard for Wessex at the net with strong blocking and some fearsome hits. This was aided by fine setting from Gillian Quinn that gave Ashcombe lots of opportunities to attack with Ellie Kim providing energy around the court to carry Ashcombe to the set 25-22.
Without any rest, Ashcombe went straight into their toughest test against Richmond who had previously blown away London Polonia with an exhibition of hard serving and hitting. Ilona McDonald produced a variety of perfect sets to feed her hitters including Issie Russell who unloaded a couple of fearsome strikes. Lauren Marshall carried on the Ashcombe presence at the net with solid blocking however it was not enough to prevent Richmond winning the set 25-10.
Ashcombe then came out in a determined mood in the next set and kept level with the South West Londoners up to 18-18. Issie Russell and Leah Blight both produced some quality hitting which tested the well organised Richmond defence. Despite using Andrea Tudorache as an impact server from the bench, Ashcombe couldn’t prevent a late run from Richmond who took the set 25-21.
In the final game of the day Ashcombe faced London Polonia who again were tough opponents. Ashcombe however stepped up to this challenge with aplomb as setters Gillian Quinn and Ilona McDonald took control and moved the ball round well, McDonald in particular showed her Volleyball brain by poaching a couple of points on the second touch, much to the surprise of the waiting Polonia defence. Issie Russell then went on another run of serves as Ashcombe took the set 25-17.
The start of the next set saw Ashcombe get caught in a couple of tough rotations which let Polonia into a 4 point lead. Kirsty Gaston then came up with a fine hit to break Ashcombe out of the jam they had found themselves in. Katie Lay then gave her setters some lovely passing which Lauren Marshall and Issie Russel took advantage of as Ashcombe clawed their way back into the set. Fight as they did, Ashcombe could not prevent Polonia taking the set 25-22.
Overall Ashcombe finished third having scored two competition points.
Coach Tim Griffiths enjoyed the Volleyball on show ‘ We got better and better with every set and I was really impressed by the wonderful team spirit the team showed throughout the whole day. This was a tough test of how we have progressed and everyone showed improvement. Several of this team will still be under 15 next year so I look forward to working hard in training to move forward.’
Ashcombe Under 15- Leah Blight, Kirsty Gaston, Ellie Kim, Katie Lay, Lauren Marshall, Ilona McDonald, Gillian Quinn, Issie Russell (Capt), Andrea Tudorache.