Former Kinross Volleyball Club member and now Scottish Internationalist, Connor Boyle decided on a last-minute entry into the UKBT (UK Beach Tour) in Worthing. Connor, treasurer of the newly formed Perth Beach Volleyball Club at Darnhall, set off on a 1,100-mile round trip for his first beach volleyball games of the new summer season, being particularly excited for this, his first competitive event of the year.
The competition was a UKBT 4 Star event held at Side Out, Worthing and saw competitors from multiple nationalities across the UK come together for a day of high-level beach volleyball.
Noam Devey, Connor Boyle’s Welsh beach volleyball partner for the day, started their journey in the pool play against London based Aldo & Andrea. With the pair not having played together, there was a lot of communication needing to be established between them in order to make the game as competitive as possible. With the first set not going smoothly, the pair lost out by a margin of 6 points. The second set saw the Celtic pair’s play improve, but it wasn’t enough, narrowly losing the 2nd set and the game. The pair quickly earned the nickname of the ‘Celtic Underdogs’ of the competition earning a well-deserved rest before their second game against pool favourites, Bournemouth pairing and competition contenders Harry and Matt. The pair started their second game of the day positively, pushing for every point and making what should have been an easy game for the favourites a real ‘nail biter’. Narrowly missing out on the 1st set the second set could not be concluded within the normal game limit of pool play points 15 and concluded 21-19 to the Bournemouth Boys.
Finishing bottom of the pool with 2 losses the Celtic Underdogs moved to series of single-elimination knock-out games. Their first opponents were The Team of Volleyball Addics, (Lewis & Tom). Taking the 1st set comfortably, the second set was far more problematic for Team CU. Going 16-4 down (with games up to 21) the road ahead left them having to make one big tactical decision: lose the set and try to win the last (3rd set) or go 110% and try to reclaim the set and win. With sheer determination, the CU lived up to their name and won the set 21-19 after showing everyone exactly what they could produce on the sand with pure determination seeing them through.
On reflection, the quarters finals were always an aim, but now for the CU it was a reality. Being paired against an experienced and youthful team of Marcin & Enrique (London based team) the momentum was with CU. With some great play and improved tactics CU overcame their opponents for their second win of the day.
It was now semi finals’ stage and the pair were drawn against The Bournemouth Boys who had beaten them earlier in the day. The CU had time to refine tactics, and build up momentum but legs were getting heavy and tired. One final push was needed and the pair knew that. Starting strong but up against tough opposition, it was the Bournemouth boys who scraped through in the first set. Set two started with tough points being won and lost. The CU side couldn’t quite hold on to a 19-17 lead and lost the 2nd set by 2 points in the final set.
The Journey had ended, but nothing but smiles continued. Connor Boyle & Noam Devey, The Celtic Underdogs had secured 3rd position in a last-minute tournament and developed a potential new partnership opportunity for future games.
Connor then embarked on his 505-mile return journey from Worthing to Kelty before going to work on Monday morning – dedication on and off the court is what is needed.
Connor continues his UKBT journey with UKBT Director and Commonwealth English Athlete Jake Sheaf in a 4-star event in Crystal Palace this coming weekend, hopefully improving on to improve on his opening 3rd place finish last weekend.
Perth Beach Volleyball Club is hoping that with this new easing of restrictions that they will be permitted to “open their doors” to organised “come and play” sessions at the Darnhall site which houses two full size beach volleyball sand surfaces and space for two grass courts adjacent to the beach courts.