Eagles book place in cup final after thriller

Whitby-based North Riding Eagles won through to the Yorkshire Cup final after a thrilling 3-2 win over York, one of the county’s most improved teams.

Eagles coach Anthony Laffan knew his team were in for a tough semi-final.

His side had recently had a good home win against York but North Riding had home advantage and a full squad.

However the roles were reversed this time, and Eagles had no adult players available - they also lost their Stokesley sixth form players due to injury. Despite this, confidence was high after a run of victories and North Riding still had a talented quartet of Whitby Community College players as the core of the team.

Mr Laffan said: “It was to turn out to be a thrilling night of volleyball - a great sporting moment that saw spectators flooding onto the court at the end in celebration. Another class performance from Eva Elias and the in-form Izzy Shackleton were key to the Eagles victory but it was the Eagles’ team spirit that was the determining factor.”

Eagles won the first set 25-20, but York dominated the second half of the second set, pulling away from 13-11 to take the set 25-13.

North Riding were always a threat, giving away several inches in height, but their tenacious defence, precision setting and powerful attacks resulted in many long rallies.

York overcame an early 6-1 third set deficit to push in front at 10-9. The lead swapped hands a few times but York then opened up a 20-16 gap and held onto the advantage, despite a last gasp recovery by Eagles.

At 10-4 in the fourth set, it looked like York were cruising to a 3-1 win. However North Riding had other ideas.

Beth Hewitt served well to get them back into the lead. York drew level and a number of drawn out rallies followed, with both sides making great defensive recoveries to keep the ball in play. York opened up a small lead at 22-20, but North Riding came straight back to edge 23-22 ahead and snatched the set 25-23.

Eagles carried their momentum into the deciding set and York were unable to handle the jump float serves of the Laffan twins, first Catherine, who took the score to 9-1, and then Rebecca, who snuffed out a brief York recovery and served out the match 15-5.

Most valued Eagles player: Catherine Laffan. Eagles: Rebecca Laffan, Eva Elias, Izzy Shackleton, Catherine Laffan, Beth Hewitt, Eleanor James, Abby Lavender.