The Dalriada Girls retain their 7th Under 16 Schools Volleyball title in style at University of Ulster, Jordanstown.
It wrapped up a very eventful day with the younger but very capable Year 11 Girls squad causing a few upsets on their route to the final and the Under 16 Boys team who were defeated by Campbell College in the first round of the finals.
Dr Walker, Head coach of the sport at the school admitted: “We were apprehensive about our chances this year as many of the league finalists from different regional leagues in the province came together for a finals day comprising three rounds to the final.
“On such a day anything can happen but we were still confident beating Lismore, Craigavon, and Portadown College in the first two rounds to set up a final against one of the favourites, Markethill High School. Our younger girls in year 11 also had a great day in their first year of competition and had performed fantastically as the youngest squad to make the finals of 2014.”
In the Girls final our year 12 squad started slowly and Markethill had built up a significant 5-0 lead through several of their international players but excellent serving from Dalriada girls Suzi Hardyway, Olivia Cameron and Caitlin Winchbourne returned the pressure to their defence and this allowed us to mount a comeback through the excellent attacking of our influential captain Isy Ross. The teams traded points and were tied at 13-13 and then the Dalriada team found great momentum closing out the first set 25-19. In the second set the Dalriada girls seemed to find a much higher gear and made some tactical changes to enhance their attack and players such as Abi Millar and Harriet Moore really stepped up their game at the net with accurate setting from Claire Finnerty and pinpoint passing from Sophie McPhearson. The second set closed out a significant 25-14 to seal a win that was celebrated with their supporters rushing the court.
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The girls now face their southern counterparts and cross-border rivals St. Marys from Dublin. Both schools have traded many finals in the past with St. Marys being the stronger over the past few years. Dalriada has a fourth All-Ireland title in its sights although with the turn of hosting resting with the Volleyball Association of Ireland the game will be a massive challenge in Dublin although Walker admits that his girls are well up for it.