WHITBY’S young volleyball players got to test their skills against some high quality Belgians who had arrived in England on the aptly-named Pride of Yorkshire.
In fact it was the pride of Yorkshire that they first played at Fyling Hall School with players coming from across the county to play, but the Yorkshire team was still dominated by Whitby area players.
Captain of the Yorkshire team that took on a Flemish side was Whitby’s Sammy Gibson and while Yorkshire also had England cadet player Beth Hewitt, they were given a good beating, 25-12, in the first set.
The standard of the visiting players’ technique was excellent but it was the power and pace they played with that left Yorkshire flatfooted.
The next sets proved to be a big learning curve for Yorkshire but they dug deep and started to find a rhythm and gradually the gap began to close.
The main thing Gibson and her team-mates such as Abi Millward did was not to give up 3-0 down the final set of the day went to two clear points and while the Flemish side were the better side, winning 27-25 the Yorkshire girls had stepped up and competed.
The next day, the tournament moved to Whitby Community College and an open session of two–side games saw lots of local players mix in with visiting players.
The organiser for the morning session, PVD Driessche, kept mixing the teams.
This was a lovely occasion as the players from different clubs got to know each other and the Whitby players were more comfortable skill-wise as they were now playing beach volleyball.
After the session, players shared a lunch break and some sightseeing in Whitby, then the stage was set for a North Riding Eagles match versus Kruikenburg in the afternoon.
This time, the home players were playing at a much faster pace and to start with the Belgium team was taken by surprise but the coaches adapted their tactics to make for a thrilling match.
Staff and parents from Whitby Community College were out in force cheering the girls on but despite excellent hitting from Izzy Shackleton and Eva Elias and heroic pick-ups from Catherine and Rebecca Laffan, the Belgium team ran out 3-2 winners.
There were also promising international debuts by Beth Jones, Flynn Middlemass and Lucy Hogarth.
Saturday was five hours of non-stop volleyball with teams from Harrogate, Sheffield, Scotland (Team Lanarkshire), Belgium (Kruikenburg) and local side North Riding Eagles all competing.
There was also a British Talent Programme team coached for the day by top American coach Alex Hodge.
The best match of the day saw the two best teams, Flemish side Kruikenburg and The British Talent Programme players, contest a fast, hard-hitting match that had the spectators appreciating the high skill level of all the young players.
It was Belgium coach Mario Trochs who was triumphant over his American counterpart in a closely fought two-set victory.
North Riding Eagles’ under 17 finished 3rd in group one behind these two teams but clearly stronger than Team Lanarkshire (Scotland).
In group two, North Riding under 16 girls came first ahead of the club’s new under 15 boys’ team. It was a good result for both these teams as they beat Sheffield under 16 and a Teesside under 17 college team.