Published on May 29th, 2016 | by admin0
Evans and Austin Compete at the World U21 Championships
By Denise Austin
As the club coach & National Team coach for Volleyball England Junior Girls Beach Volleyball Programme, I have seen my daughter Ellie Austin and our good friend Anaya Evans learn to play the sport from very young at Georgeham primary school together. Their first beach volleyball tournament together was in Weston Super Mare in 2009 when Anaya was in year 5 and Ellie was in year 3.
Since then they have played with and against each other in events and as Anaya was three International age groups older than Ellie and she began playing internationally three summers ago in 2013.
All FIVB World Championship events currently are self-funded for the players. So we decided to travel the budget route and drive to Switzerland, Lucerne. Mike Evans was a sterling driver going the whole way driving on his own.
Driving to a venue is quite special as we entered Lucerne through the mountains and then along the lake and to the campsite which was right beside the venue it was a special place to see them perform together for the first time.
We had two days to settle in and had scrimmage matches against some other teams and they felt quite confident going into the event. The technical meeting the night before sees all the teams from around the world gather for the draw and we were pulled out to play USA 2 one of the highest seeds in the qualification event. The format for an FIVB World Tour event is there are usually around 24 teams already in the main draw and the qualification event runs the day before. There are usually anything from 15-30 teams in the qualification event and they fight it out for the remaining 8 places in the main draw. The qualification event is single elimination so once you lose you are out.
Having USA in their first match was always going to be a tough draw, but having personally played teams from Brazil & USA you will eventually start to beat them and understand how to, but their consistency of play is what sets them apart.
They started off slow and Ellie was very nervous to begin with, seeing every serve come her way, it was a big deal her first international against a team who would give very little, their opponents are both University Students one of who is at UCLA and the other at USC, both just recently competed in the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships where USC were the best University in the US. That’s how tough it was. As a coach it was difficult to find the fight you know an athlete has eventually it showed and watching her grow in confidence during the game was a proud moment.
The second set they started move evenly and went neck and neck, Ellie was finding her groove and placing her shots and Anaya was serving well and tactically smart to understand how to attack the USA team. We took a small lead at 16-14 up but then they went up another gear and we finished the second set 21-16. A 2-0 loss. Losing is always hard and even though you knew it was going to be a tough battle you hate it.
The girls picked themselves up and after a day of watching they trained with some other teams from Spain and Canada and learnt more about how they can play at this level, and easily.
After this event their next event is the European U20 Championships in Turkey.