Ballymoney Blaze set for Kosovo cup challenge

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Blaze Volleyball Senior squad are set for one of their biggest challenges to-date as the team fly out to Kosovo to compete in the CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup.

The Ballymoney outfit will play a double header against Kosovo’s champions Drenica R&Rukolli SKENDERAJ and in doing so create a little piece of history for the club.

Speaking about the challenge that awaits Blaze, Coach Johnny McClenaghan commented: “Preparations have been going really well, I think we’re in great shape, although it looks like Adam Hunter has tweaked ligaments in his foot and is a doubt so we’ll assess that before the games. Training wise, we haven’t done a whole lot different to our normal training.

“The guys know our expectations, I expect them to turn up on time and work hard week in and week out and that’s what they’ve done. The fact we’re most proud of is that everyone playing next weekend is Ballymoney through and through. We haven’t signed any players to play in the competition like others teams have done previously. This is an event that as a club we can be proud of competing in, so we’ll compete as a club.”

There is no doubt the boys from Ballymoney face a tough challenge.

“We know our opposition won the double in Kosovo last season,” added Johnny. “The Balkan regions are notoriously strong in volleyball, it’s their national sport so we’ll be up against it. Add to that, they’ve signed two Serbian international players in the past few months which makes them even more daunting as an opposition, but we’ll go into the games with no fear, I have great faith in my players ability and even if things don’t go our way we’ll hold our heads up and know we went about things the right way, working hard and sticking together.

“My expectations are the same as they are going into every game, if every player can come off the court and tell me they’ve put in 100% then I’m happy even if we lose. We know they’ll be a tough opposition, but there’s no reason for us not to think we can go there and win the games and look to the second round.

The squad are really looking forward to it and our minds are fully focussed on Kosovo.

“I have to say though, we have to thank our sponsor Max Snax and Ballymoney Sports Advisory Committee who have greatly helped with the fundraising as it hasn’t been a cheap experience so far. We also have to thank the Ballymoney Times for all the coverage they’ve given us over the past few months in particular, it’s really helped promote the sport and the club in the area.”