The Ireland U16s girls volleyball team created history at the European Championships Qualifying stage today as the girls in green beat Iceland to claim 5th place and become the first Irish Junior Volleyball team to win an international match.
Led by the excellent Maria Jones Ireland cruised the first set winning 25-13, before Iceland hit back dominating the second (7-25) in super quick time. Ireland re-grouped and were driven by Grace Moloney who dominated play with neat passing and pinpoint volleys. The impressive setter Shannon Kehoe teed up some hard hitting spikes by Laura Connolly as Ireland took a nail biting third 25-23.
The 4th set ebbed and flowed before the Irish got over the line. The hugely improving Yousra Kebayli with some vicious jump serves creating havoc. Ireland claimed victory 25-18 to run out winners 3-1 and begin some wild celebrations as the first Irish Junior Volleyball Team to win at an International event.
Head Coach Gianni Massa commented, “I am very proud of all the girls, their dedication and commitment to this project has been inspiring and I am so happy for them to get their rewards. Coming here and competing is wonderful and to win a game is the icing on the cake.”
Captain from Ennis Volleyball Club Maria Jones added, “It was a great performance which we knew we had. We’ve improved so much playing against these teams and to win is brilliant. "
Ireland started the campaign with a defeat to Denmark 3-0 on Friday morning and a close loss to the Faroe Islands on Friday evening (3v1). They were outgunned 3-0 by Sweden yesterday before their victory today.
The competition is the first event the squad have played in and a victory is remarkable considering their more experienced opponents. The squad will continue it’s development over the coming years.
The Irish team will return home to Dublin airport tomorrow evening.
- Examiner Sport