Eagles swoop for Irish ace

North Riding Eagles VC. Picture: Ceri Oakes
North Riding Eagles VC. Picture: Ceri Oakes

North Riding Eagles Volleyball Club are set to sign an Irish international ahead of the new 2016/17 season.

Ellen Duke has agreed terms to join the Whitby-based National League Division Two outfit, but head coach Anthony Laffan is still waiting for her transfer to be rubber-stamped.

“We are excited to be bringing in such a skilful player,” Laffan said.

“Ellen is a setter so her control of a volleyball is excellent and she has to have a good reading of the game to play such an important position.

“She has a lot of international experience having played in the Confederation of European Volleyball tournaments from junior level to recently making her breakthrough into the national ladies team.

“We are happy that she will cope with the pressure of national league volleyball.”

If her transfer is processed in time then Duke will go straight into the Eagles’ squad for Saturday’s season opener against Sunderland, despite the fact that she is yet to train with her new teammates.

Despite this, Laffan is confident that his new recruit will make a big impact, and that her arrival will provide much-needed competition for places.

“We already boast the last season’s best setter in the division, Catherine Laffan, however we want to push on and develop our fast, attacking play,” he coach continued.

“Having two playmakers on court will give us a lot of new options in attack.”

The Eagles have lost a number of players from last season’s squad due to retirement, work commitments and girls moving away from Whitby to attend university. Knowing that key players including American star Nicki McClure and Eva Elias and Eleanor James would be departing from, North Riding set about scouting possible replacements last season.

Three match reports came back from club sources highlighting Duke’s strong performances in the games she was playing in the British Colleges and Universities League.

As a result, the club made Duke’s capture a priority, but are still in the market for further additions.

“Replacing the quality players we are losing with other good players who are able to play at National League level is a difficult task,” Laffan added.

“Ideally we would like to link with local employers to offer some sponsorship for our players.

“It would help attract good players to Whitby and away from the big city clubs.”