The Pride of Yorkshire title now rests with the Whitby area after North Riding Eagles won in style against the mighty Leeds.
The national league women’s volleyball fixture was played at Leeds but the largest away support this season for The Eagles meant our North Riding team was well-supported throughout this hard fought Yorkshire derby match.
After what seems like an eternity of being on the road playing away fixtures, North Riding’s growing fan base looked upon a fixture in Leeds as a virtual home match and flooded down to support the Whitby-based Eagles.
The Eagles’ large away support had officials delaying the start of the match and when it finally started, Caedmon College girls Eva Elias and Catherine Laffan served North Riding into a 7-2 lead.
Then the big Leeds fightback started and it was no surprise that their Dutch star, the towering Edine Pape, led the fight back her big attacks down the middle unnerved the young Eagles team and Leeds started to pull away.
Leeds were getting into their rhythm of big blocks and big attacks with German star Johanna Schonhofer scoring some good spikes for Leeds.
North Riding’s game plan was gone as discipline collapsed. Three weeks of preparation for this important match looked to be ruined as The Eagles players failed to do their allocated jobs and ran around in panic, gifting Leeds point after point.
At 20 -24, four points down and with Leeds on set point and serve, the Eagles’ coaching staff used their final timeout. Yet again, players were told to trust their team-mates and to play their positions.
The time-out worked with Leeds serving into the net and The Eagles staged a late fightback with vice-captain Amy Hamilton and Whitby girl Izzy Shackleton starring at the net, blunting the Leeds attack and finding gaps to sneak some points. It was now Leeds calling a time out at 24-23.
With North Riding finally looking like themselves, smiling and chanting, it was clear that Leeds were to be denied the first set and so it was.
The Eagles support were cheering away as they saw their team complete the comeback and win 26 -24.
Captain for the day, Eleanor James, led the Eagles into an early second set lead and with Katie Lomas on form at the net, North Riding won the second set 25-12.
More and more, the quality passing of The Eagles defence of Rebecca Laffan and Abbie Lavendar was dictating the pace of the game.
A final set win of 25-13 saw North Riding Eagles go third in the league.
This Sunday, The Eagles return home to play Newcastle Staffs, the most decorated club in English volleyball.
Entry is free and the match starts at 11.30am at Whitby Leisure Centre.