Mixed fortunes for volleyball squads

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SELECTION for the Team GB volleyball squads is hotting up with the Olympic Games in London now less than 40 days away.

Both the men’s and the women’s volleyball programmes have been based at Sheffield’s English Institute of Sport with the women’s team in particular benefitting from local businesses sponsoring the squad.

The women completed a successful tour of Finland this weekend where they beat the host country on five straight occasions. Head coach Audrey Cooper was pleased with her team’s effort. She posted on her Twitter page: “GB 5 Finland 0, great team effort, staff & players, to take the series undefeated. Olympic schedule dress rehearsal invaluable. #winning.”

The team is now set to face Olympic qualifiers Algeria in Scotland before Cooper announces her squad later this month, which is likely to include former Meadowhead and All Saints School student Rachel Laybourne.

On Saturday Great Britain men’s team lost 26-24 14-25 23-25 19-25 to Belgium in the final clash of their three-match series at Edinburgh University’s Pleasance Sports Complex as the visitors swept the series 3-0.

But, for coach Harry Brokking, the matches were about assessing all of his options before the Olympics as he cuts his squad from 14 to 12 within the next few days. He said: “It was obvious the selection was on the back of the players’ minds, not only at the back of it but they were playing with it all the time.

“It was more obvious with some players than others. It’s always difficult when you are pushing really hard.

“We were working hard on selection so you are not coaching to win - you try to win but it’s not the focus of the week, it’s about giving everyone a fair chance.”