Smith named in England squad for European championships

Volleyball star Phil Smith
Volleyball star Phil Smith

Cuckfield’s Phil Smith has been selected for the England volleyball squad for the first round of the 2017 CEV Volleyball European Championships.

Fourteen of the country’s best volleyball players will represent England in the matches which will be held at the Time Sotra Arena in Straume, Norway, this weekend.

This is the first time a national side has competed on an international senior level since the loss of funding post-London 2012, and is testament to the hard work of the talented athletes and voluntary coaches who have worked tirelessly to get the team in shape.

Simon Loftus, head coach for the team, said: “The squad is well prepared, we’ve got a great dynamic and we’re all up for the challenge.

“It’s been some time since we competed on the international circuit so we’re looking forward to benchmarking ourselves to see where we are up to and how we perform.

“There is a real mix of experienced and new players in the squad, and that is an exciting prospect. Our Olympians have been driving the standard of our training sessions up and there is an obvious difference now from when we first got together.

“A lot of the other teams are made up of full-time players so it’s going to be a tough weekend but, as long as we are credible in our performance, we will lay the foundations of what will be the start of rebuilding the England team.”

England will face Israel, Hungary and hosts Norway in the three-leg competition with the top team in their group automatically progressing to round two. There will be two additional qualification spots up for grabs for two sides with the highest scores across all three group stages.

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