Ennis native Maria Jones is the U17 Women’s Volleyball National Team Captain and competed in the European Championships in the Faroe Islands in January of last year.
So Maria, you’ve been all over Europe this year playing Volleyball. How did you find the experience?
I found the experience incredible I enjoyed every second of it. Over the last two years I’ve made the best friends from all over the country and I will always be grateful for the opportunities and experiences I had with them. We are such a tight knit team which made it all that bit more fun for us. We trained really really hard and worked so much to get where we are and I’m so proud of what we achieved as a team.
I imagine, you’ve made some great friends playing Volleyball in Faroe Islands, Sardinia and Denmark – what is the camaraderie like in the u17 girls team?
Like I said we are such a tight-knit bunch and we’re always the loudest and definitely the most social in every tournament we went to, we might not have won but we will always be remembered by the other teams for the friendships we made with them. We have made friends and contacts with players really from all over the continent.
What was the highlight of the Intl season for you?
I think the highlight of the season for me was winning against Iceland in Faroe Islands, I remember one of our coaches Jenny King crying tears of joy after that match and that honestly was the greatest part of it all.
What is the best part of playing Volleyball for Ireland?
I think the fact that your representing your country is a huge honor and wearing the flag on the jersey means a lot to everyone on the team, it’s something that none of us take lightly and we try to represent Ireland as well as we can always.
What did it feel like to win that final point against Iceland and clinch a first Intl victory?
Everyone involved that day was so hyped up and so focused on the task at hand. Everyone played their best that day, it was amazing. We were all really in the zone, we were able to put good scoring streaks together and we were very confident receiving serve. The last point was so exciting and the reactions of the coaches was the most rewarding part because of all the work Gianni, Teresa and Jenny put in behind the scenes. We felt that although we had put in good performances against the other teams, the win proved we could compete and it was a relief after all the hard work. We had all spent basically all our Christmas Holidays in training camp, with our coaches giving up so much of their time it was a great reward.
What are your ambitions in the future playing Volleyball?
We all have different ambitions for our futures, some girls would love to play abroad for university but in the short term future we all plan on playing all season with our schools and clubs and then see what is in store for us internationally. I am lucky in that I have such great coaches both at school and club so myself and the girls locally here in Ennis are just going to soak up as much advice and skills as we can and try to constantly raise our game.
— Pundit Arena (@PunditArena) June 20, 2020
Have you learnt much through this experience representing Ireland?
Yes I have learned so much over the past year and a bit. We have all grown so much as a team and as individuals. We have gained confidence and learned that hard work and what you put into things you will get out.
What advice would you give to younger players who are making their way in Volleyball?
Try to go to as many training sessions as you can, play with older and more experienced players as much as possible, and listen to what coaches are saying to you always. Believe and aim high!