Last week was a busy week for Ballymoney Blaze, not only did they run their largest Summer Camp to date, but they followed it up by running the largest ever beach volleyball tournament in Northern Ireland in a crossover event between NI Volleyball and Beach Volleyball Ireland.
The summer camp ran from Monday evening to Thursday evening in association with the Sports Development unit for Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. During the week, the participants were fortunate to experience coaching sessions from some of the finest coaches in Northern Ireland, including a number of current National coaches at various age levels.
During the week the coaches decided on a player of the night each week, the club would like to congratulate Zoe Hennessey, Peter Wright, Adam Wright and Kaitlyn Ferriby for winning player of the night each night, and Milenka Rygielska for winning Player of the Week.
Two days later it was time for the largest Beach Volleyball competition in the history of NI Volleyball when 41 teams took part in the crossover event.
Alan McKnight and Jonathan Workman took on the role of early favourites having won all of the previous events this season. This tag proved to be well founded as they cruised through a tough group coming out on top of the table.
In the ladies section it was the American pairing of Alex Graves and Megan Burgdorf were making all the early runnings having also topped their group.
The double elimination format for the knock out stages pitted McKnight and Workman against the top southern pairing of O’Regan & Stolarek. With this also having been a group game, O’Regan & Stolarek claimed a surprise 2-1 victory to seal a place in the final and consign McKnight and Workman to the second semi-final against another southern pairing, Goti & Cardoso.
This time, McKnight and Workman made no mistake, coming away with a convincing 2-0 victory to set up a decisive runner match against O’Regan & Stolarek, this time in the final.
With points at stake in both the NI and BVI tours this was a huge final for both teams. What a spectacle it was for the mid-evening crowd basking in the Portrush Sun. Finally, after 10 straight hours of Volleyball Workman and McKnight sealed a convincing 2-0 victory to secure top spot and cement thier place at the top of both the NI and BVI tours.
In the ladies competition Burgdorf and Graves made much easier work of their competition as they won all of their matches on the day defeating Simon-Byrne and Gruzdaite in a thrilling finale coming from a set behind to claim a 2-1 victory and the honours. In the plate competitions Patrycja Frach & Roisin Roantree and Michal Kwapinski & Aurélien Gimenez claimed victory.
The youngest players on show on the day were all from Ballymoney Blaze. Many of the girls performed admirably on the day with Zara Hegarty and Susan Gilmour finishing a creditable second in the plate and Emma Johnston and Corrie Donaldson finishing third after some impressive displays. In the men’s section, other than the winners, the local club were represented by Adam Hunter & David Park, playing their first competition together and finishing in an impressive 5th position against some very experienced competition.
The next competitions take place on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th August on Portrush East Strand. Entries are now available on the facebook event pages.