Eagles fly into national quarter-finals


WHITBY area volleyball North Riding Eagles aim to conquer the whole of England after swooping into the last eight of a national competition hosted in Whitby on Saturday.

Teams from Darlington, Wirral and Wigan arrived at Whitby Leisure Centre for the northern qualifying round of the girls’ under 16s national cup, with high hopes of qualifying for the last eights.

This is where the top eight teams in the country play off in two pools of four and then play a crossover semi-final all in one day.

Eagles were first up to play previous national cup winners Haughton from Darlington.

The Darlington club had as many coaches as players and with their experience, knew how to negotiate their way through the day’s fixtures.

The Darlington girls had an experienced team out, with two players with previous national last eight experience and others who have represented the north east and train with the north.

What happened next stunned everyone - North Riding just burnt the visitors off court to win the first set 25-7.

The Lewin twins destroyed the opposition, backed up by quality play from North Riding’s experienced players Rebecca Chalk, Rebecca Laffan and Izzie Shackleton.

For the second set, coaches Richard Needs and Anthony Laffan knew they had the firepower to finish the match whenever and so the decision to rest players and run the bench was taken.

This saw new player Sammy Gibson learn the ropes along with Beth Jones and Flynn Middlemass who also came on to gain experience in this set. The whole squad got a run out as North Riding finished 2-0 winners.

Wigan Sea Hawks were The Eagles’ next opponents and with a recent three-page exposure in The National Volleyball magazine promoting all their achievements, it was a daunting proposition for a rural-based team such as North Riding to take on a club that boasts 150 junior membership and players who had been training with The England Cadets.

All of this meant nothing as Eagles captain Rebecca Laffan took the game by the scruff of the neck and blasted them off court with clever spikes and serves.

Now Eagles were running riot, going through their array of moves and the reverse set was proving a winner every time.

Catherine Lewin and Tara Ovrington could not get to the ball quick enough.

A 2-0 win again saw North Riding looking at taking top seed if they could beat an experienced Wirral team.

Again North Riding’s form never dipped - Eva Elias grew in stature as the day went on providing quality passes for all her team-mates to score from and another 2-0 victory ensued.

A big turnout of support was much appreciated and everyone is excited about reaching the last eights at the end of February.