BOURNEMOUTH volleyball ace Yasmin Kaashoek believes performances this year have made her international rivals sit up and take notice.

Although admitting a preference for beach volleyball, LeAF Academy student Kaashoek got the year off to a strong start when she and her teammates finished runners-up in March’s under-18 national indoor finals.

She transferred that form to the beach this summer, teaming up with Anaya Evans in the Under-18 European Championships in Riga in August before being selected to represent England at the Continental Cup in Sochi, which also doubled as an Olympic qualifier.

The 16-year-old ended the year with a fourth-place finish on the indoor courts with the England under-17 squad, just missing out on a medal after losing to Sweden last month.

And she believes her performances on the sand in particular prove the progress she is making on the big stage.

“I feel I have played well this year,” she said. “Even though we won two of our four games at the European Under-18 Championships, we didn’t feel like a tiny fish in a big sea this time. Everyone was starting to sit up and take notice of us.

“Anaya and myself don’t get the chance to train together very often as we live in separate places but we have stepped up this year.

“The highlight was probably playing in the Continental Cup. We were playing some really good teams but the experience gained from that is only going to benefit us.”

Kaashoek is currently taking time away from the court as she recovers from a niggling knee injury in preparation for next year’s beach season.

And while the first year of A-levels is keeping her busy for the time being, she admits she faces big decisions in the future.

“It depends on my school schedule but I’ll probably go back to beach volleyball at the end of March or the start of April," she said.

“I’d love to play professionally one day but it’s a case of weighing up whether I go to university in England or look into moving to America.”

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