MSc Sports Management student and sportBU staff member Phil Smith was part of the 4 man England Beach Volleyball Squad who competed in the CEV Continental Cup round 3 in Turkey on 2nd/3rd May. The Continental Cup is a qualification method for the 2016 Rio Olympics and pitted England against Turkey, Croatia and Latvia.
England lost a close first tie vs Turkey 2-1 in matches, meaning they had to face Croatia to ensure progression through to the next stage. Phil and his partner Gregg Weaver beat the top ranked Croatian team 2-0. This was followed up by the England team of Jake Sheaf and Chris Gregory also winning 2-0, which ensured England won the overall tie 2-0 in matches.
An upset in which Turkey beat pre tournament favourites Latvia meant England had the tough task of facing Latvia in the Silver/ Bronze matchup. Phil and Gregg played the top Latvia pairing of Plavins/ Smedins, who were the Bronze Medalists in the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Latvians skill and expereince proved too much as they won 2-0, however by achieving 3rd place ensures England progress through to round 4 of Olympic Qualifying later in the summer.
Phil Smith said – ‘Our goal was to ensure that we progressed through, so we are happy we achieved that. We played a good match vs Croatia and it was a good experience playing one of the top teams in the world in Latvia. We look to build on this experience and start our preporations for the next round!’