Ashcombe Under15’s Qualify For Southern Finals
Ashcombe Volleyball Club’s Under 15 Girls team made a strong showing in the first round of the Volleyball England Under 15 National cup competition, winning both their matches to take to them into the second round which will be held in Reading in March. It was a young Ashcombe side with an average age of just 13 who took on representatives of Cherwell VC and Team Southampton.
Ashcombe began brightly in their first game against Cherwell, largely thanks to the strong serving of Captain Freya McDonald which was quickly backed up by Katie Lay also producing a strong service. Ashcombe fought for every point at the net, with Amy Antonio providing a forceful block. Ashcombe soon finished the set thanks to some solid setting from Becky Quirke and another round of serves from Freya McDonald to take the set 25-11.
The second set proved to be much tougher for Ashcombe with a strong service line leaving Ashcombe 10-1 adrift. The introduction of Emily Hill into the attack saw Ashcombe claw back several points and made it to 18-15, in part thanks to some good hitting and service from Illona McDonald, however the Cherwell attack proved too strong again and benefiting from a possible blocked serve they took the set 25-18.
In the deciding final set, the first side to 15 points and be two points clear of the opposition would win the match. Cherwell made a strong start however Ashcombe dug deep to fight their way into a strong position, Kirsty Meehan giving Ashcombe some momentum however Cherwell then came back and led 14 points to 11 when Coach Tim Griffiths called a time out. Such was the resolve of the Ashcombe team however they fought back thanks to the brilliant serving from the nerveless Freya McDonald and took the set and match 16-14, much to the relief of their coach and the watching spectators.
Cherwell then defeated Team Southampton 2-0 which meant that Ashcombe needed to win in order to guarantee qualification. Gillian Quinn came into the lineup and showed her class with strong touches in defence and attack. Two aces in a row from Freya McDonald swung the pendulum to Ashcombe and backed up by the strong front court play of Katie Lay and Becky Quirke Ashcombe soon raced to take the set 25-12.
The second set was very much a continuation of the first as Southampton struggled to cope with the Ashcombe team, their serve suffering in particular. Emily Hill producing three block jumps in a row to break Southampton spirits and Gillian Quinn again covering well in back court. Service from Kirsty Meehan and Captain Freya McDonald saw Ashcombe home to finish the match 25-14.
Coach Tim Griffiths praised his team’s resolve after the days competition. ‘We faced strong opposition today and although we didn’t make it easy in the first game we never stopped believing and fought until the final point. I’m proud of the performance today and the girls deserve to be so as well. Each and every one of them gave everything they could and we will work hard in training to improve on this performance going forward.’
The result means Ashcombe will travel to Bradfield College in Reading on 23rd March in the Southern Divisional Round. Joining Ashcombe and Cherwell will be joined by four other qualifiers, two each from London and the South West.
Ashcombe U-15- A Antonio, E Hill, K Lay, F McDonald (Capt), I McDonald, K Meehan, G Quinn, R Quirke. Coach: T Griffiths.