Portlaoise College 2
Patrician Fethard 0
Portlaoise College are the 2015-16 Senior All-Ireland ‘B’ Girls Volleyball champions, after a hard fought victory over Patrician Fethard on Wednesday last. Portlaoise College were looking to go a step further than last year after they were defeated by Presentation Kilkenny in the decider. It meant a return to UCD where the Portlaoise Girls previously collected the All-Ireland Senior ‘C’ title two years previously. Fethard too, have found memories of UCD, as back in January they were crowned Cadette ‘B’ All-Ireland champions. The pedigree of both teams was obvious and a tight contest was eagerly anticipated.
Portlaoise won the toss and elected to serve first. Klaudia Putkowska took that first serve and Fethard were unable to return it to give Portlaoise the opening score. The next 7 scores went against serve as both teams struggled to find some fluency, before Molly O’Meara stamped her authority on the game for Fethard by putting a run of serves together. Fethard’s game plan of pushing the ball to the very back of the Portlaoise College court was also key in helping them to extend their lead to 8-4, before Portlaoise College’s coach Ollie Hally called a time-out. Despite this time-out Fethard continued in the ascendancy and pushed their lead out to 13-6 as Portlaoise really struggled defensively with Fethard’s long ball tactic. In turn this meant that Portlaoise were unable to play their powerful offense game.
Portlaoise were now 7 points down and needed leaders. Despite not playing effectively as a team they fought bravely for each point and slowly started to eke out the Fethard lead with Vicki Myja, Madara Bergmane, Aava Hearns and Klaudia Putkowska particularly impressive. Fethard called a time-out at 15-10 and this worked in their favour as four scores later they were 17-12 in front and looking very likely to pick up the first set. But this Portlaoise team has incredible character and powerful serving from Madara Bergmane coupled with excellent setting from Maria Adeline helped Portlaoise to the next 4 points and brought them back within one of Fethard at 17-16. The next 11 scores were almost shared evenly to leave the set finely balanced at 22-22. The next moments of the game brought the already vocal crowd to live as both teams shared 6 opportunities to win the set before Portlaoise captain Aava Hearns served out to give Portlaoise a very hard earned first set 30-28.
This first set victory lifted Portlaoise’s moral and also gave them added confidence heading into the first set. Madara Bergmane again led the way for her team with some powerful serving at 4-1. Pamela Malec who would have been disappointed with her first set performance, stormed into the second set with 8 impressive serves in a row. Portlaoise were beginning to fire and their defence was now comfortably dealing with the Fethard long ball. Their passing had greatly improved helping setters Adeline and Malec set perfect ball time after time which was dispatched with aplomb by Putkowska and Hearns. Portlaoise were really bringing their A-game as shown by aces by Hearns and Adeline as well as massive kills by Myja and Bergmane. Fethard for their part were gamely battling. The introduction of Portlaoise’s Shelly Whelan only added to Portlaoise’s dominance as she also impressed with good quality setting and net play to steer Portlaoise to set point at 24-15. Portlaoise then welcomed Christina Reddin back to the fold as she made her first appearance since badly injuring her ankle in training back in September. Fethard rallied to win the next two points but Portlaoise were not to be held and took the next score to win 25-17.
After the game Portlaoise captain Aava Hearns was presented with the trophy and she was also presented with the MVP award for a particularly fine individual performance. She just pipped Vicki Myja and Madara Bergmane to this award as both girls were also outstanding throughout the game. For some of this team it was their third All-Ireland title in three years and was just rewards for a finely balanced and prepared team.
Portlaoise College: Klaudia Putkowska, Maria Adeline, Madara Bergmane, Aava Hearns (Captain), Pamela Malec, Vicki Myja, Shelly Whelan, Christina Reddin and Rachel Conroy. Coach: Ollie Hally
Portlaoise College 2
St Brigid’s Loughrea 1
(13-21, 21-17, 17-15)
Following on from last week’s All-Ireland Volleyball success, the next generation of volleyballers in Portlaoise College cemented their place in the history books with the schools first ever “First year All-Ireland” in the Spikeball National Finals in UCD. Spikeball is the introductory version of Volleyball played by first and second years throughout Ireland. Portlaoise College had qualified as the Leinster winners in the mixed competition and faced a day long blitz against the Connacht winners Loughrea, the Dublin winners Colaiste Cois Life and the Munster winners Dungarvan.
After the initial blitz games, Portlaoise faced off against Colaiste Cois Life in the semi-final. In a one sided game Portlaoise easily dispatched the Lucan outfit and set up a final against favourites Loughrea. The Westeners started the brighter and comfortably won the first set 21-13 with Portlaoise looking quite jittery and nervous. However Portlaoise rallied and won a very tight second set 21-17 with captain Evelina Petrevoska and Aleks Grzegolski impressive. The final third set (first to 15, by at least two clear points) went right down the wire with both teams having set points to win the game. Emma Lynch and Daniel Phillips defended manfully while Wiki Wojtkiewicz and in particular Abdel Karim smashed home the points as Portlaoise College edged a thriller 17-15. After the game captain Evelina Petrevoska accepted the cup on behalf of her jubilant team.
Portlaoise College: Evelina Petrevoska, Aleks Grzegolski, Emma Lynch, Daniel Phillips, Wiki Wojtkiewicz and Abdul Karim. Coach: Ollie Hally
Also on the day, Portlaoise College’s second years represented the school in the 2nd Year Mixed Spikeball but unfortunately bowed out in the semi-final to Colaiste de hIde, Tallaght. Hard luck to the team of Amber Dalton, Debbie Whelan, Laura Radze, James Maher, Mustafa Shitta, Calum Collins and their exceptionally talented and inspiring coach Christina Reddin.