Cyprus completed a clean sweep by beating Scotland 3-0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-15) to win gold at the CEV U19 Women’s Volleyball European Championship Small Countries Division. The Cypriots took the title without dropping a set, having earlier in the day beaten the Faroe Islands with a similar score line (25-22, 25-15, 25-15).
The Faroese team matched their opponents for long spells in the 26-minute first set but Vasiliki Chatzikonstanta had another immense match, contributing 21 points.
Against Scotland, Cyprus kept up their high-tempo Volleyball to secure the title comfortably. Scotland competed well in the early part of the set, coming back from losing the first three points to level at 3-3 and 5-5 but, when Julianne Hendry failed to take an opportunity through the middle to give Cyprus a 6-5 lead, it was a pivotal moment. With some outstanding serving from Antrea Theoti which put pressure on the Scotland first pass, Cyprus won the next seven points to take full control of the set. Scotland competed well in the rallies with libero Raveen Kaur Gill making some outstanding pick-ups but Cyprus had too many weapons. When captain Katerina Zakchaiou came on, it gave the hosts another problem. She contributed one explosive hit to take the score to 15-8 and then served an ace to give her team a 16-8 lead at the second technical time-out. Scotland never looked like retrieving the situation and Cyprus took the set on their second set point with a Zakchaiou tip over the block.
Cyprus did not take their foot off the gas in the second set, racing to an 8-3 lead at the first technical time-out. Shona Fraser contributed three points late in the set for Scotland but Cyprus clinched it 25-15 on their second set point with an intelligent hit from Chatzikonstanta.
The teams traded points at the start of the third set before Cyprus stepped it up on the back of some strong serving from Emilia Demetriou. Chatzikonstanta took Cyprus to the second technical time-out 16-6 with successive power hits through the Scottish block. But Scotland hit back from 8-18 to 14-18 with their best spell of the match, forcing Cyprus coach Petros Patsias into his only time-out of the match. Cyprus regrouped and only lost one more point – on a service error – as they took the set with Chatzikonstanta contributing the final one.
“My players played to my expectations,” said coach Patsias. “We have been preparing since December and we have good players. They have a very good character and I thank them with all my heart.”
Scotland head coach Vince Krawczyk, having seen his team take bronze, said: “We fought hard for everything and I can’t fault the players for the effort they put in.”
Luxembourg, who had beaten Scotland on Saturday evening, made sure of silver with a straightforward 3-0 (25-7, 25-9, 25-19) win over Northern Ireland, who finished winless. Emie Tarantini contributed 16 points.
MVP: Vasiliki Chatzikonstanta (CYP)
Best Scorer: Vasiliki Chatzikonstanta (CYP)
Best Blocker: Katerina Zakchaiou (CYP)
Best Receiver: Marlène da Costa Batista (LUX)
Best Spiker: Vasiliki Chatzikonstanta (CYP)
Best Setter: Eleni Kakouri (CYP)
Best Libero: Evits Leonidou (CYP)
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