Holy Family Secondary School, Newbridge have won the Volleyball Ireland Senior A Girls Schools Championship, with a straight sets victory over local rivals St. Mary’s of Naas 25-16. 25-6. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_H2e3LI9IjA&t=961s ). The victory completes a hat trick of National titles for this age group, on the back of Junior & Cadet level wins in recent years.
The Final MVP and Holy Family captain Sophie Nolan said, “I’m really proud of the team and how we came together and played today. I thought every player was excellent, especially after such a tough Semi Final”. Indeed Holy Family didn’t have it their own way in the Semi Final against the strong Colaiste Mhuire of Ennis. It was nip and tuck throughout with neither team getting clear of the other. In the end Holy Family’s strength in depth saw them through 25-23, 25-23 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=So-gNtbX7Xo&t=944s).
Talking about the secret to their success, Nolan added, “it’s the two S’s – Service & Smile. We just focus on getting a good serve in play and playing with a smile having fun on court.” Wise words from the leader, who demonstrated a fierce range of service in set 2 as she ran up a streak of 7 points to gain the MVP award from Women’s National Team Head Coach Mark Delahunty, and caps off a fine Schools career.
Also impressing for the Kildare champions were Ciara Lowe and Emma Byrne who were both powerful at the net, with Lowe in particular excelling on serve. Pulling the strings in the middle was young setter Aine Dowling, who despite being a couple years younger than the oldest players was composed throughout the game setting up a string of attacks, that were too strong for the Naas defence.
It wasn’t all disappointment for St. Mary’s though, with a brilliant win over Rockford Manor in the Semi Final (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYi5cL-UIjY) and a thrilling victory in the opening game of the tournament versus Colaiste (25-23) with Grace Moloney serving out from 23-21 down https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWNbVJyHXA8&t=12s Mary’s went on to top the group. Colaiste soon bounced back from the Naas defeat beating both Patrician Presentation Tipperary & St Brigids 25-21, with Maria Jones, Amy O’Sullivan and Adele McHugh tuning up.
Rockford Manor earlier defeated the eventual champions in the Pool stages, showing how close in strength each of the semi finalists are.
With Covid-19 in mind a new format was devised for the Schools Finals with 8 participating teams heading to University of Limerick to battle it out in a one day showdown. The young Loughrea saints of Brigid’s & Raphael’s put it up to all their opponents in the Pool stage, with Raphael’s Laoise Klampe excelling. Patrician Presentation Tipperary stepped up to this level for the first time and showed great fight and determination.
You can catch all the matches on the Volleyball Ireland YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/VolleyballIreland1968/videos
Attention now turns to the Schools B & C finals for Girls and the A&B for Boys kicking off next week.