North Riding Eagles hosted volleyball royalty with the visit of Newcastle Staffordshire Volleyball Club on Sunday.
The match was played at Whitby Leisure Centre whose excellent facilities were once again praised by the visiting team and supporters.
Both sets of fans were well entertained with a closely fought and high scoring match which saw a total of 199 points scored.
North Riding Eagles started well, winning the first set after good serving from Izzy Shackleton who was outstanding throughout the match.
Her intelligence showed with the good calls and advice she was giving to her team- mates. The second set started well for the Eagles. They had just opened up a 9-7 lead when injury struck their middle blocker, Christina Sechel, who had come on at the net for defensive specialist Abbie Lavender.
Suddenly, Abbie was heroically trying to play blocker and Newcastle took advantage. Despite tactically trying to switch things around The Eagles could not get a double block in place and Newcastle Staffs won 25-16.
Now, the young Eagles from Caedmon College hit form, taking a confident Newcastle by surprise.
Catherine Laffan’s setting was a delight to watch as she sprayed passes to all positions and Eva Elias linked well and started hitting strongly from back court.
With libero Rebecca Laffan reading the game to such an extent that she was in position to receive and pass with quality time and time again, it was an easy set win for the home side, 25-17.
The big learning curve for many in The North Riding squad is at this higher level of national league volleyball, concentration has to be 100%.
After an easy set win, the North Riding players switched off, thinking they had the game won only to see Newcastle roar back at them to win the fourth set easily 25 - 16 and so go into the final deciding set (to 15) as favourites.
When it mattered and with determination and focus, the Eagles once again fought back. It was discipline with serves that was to prove critical. First, Eva Elias then Katie Lomas and Izzy Shackleton all served aces and wipe outs. When Newcastle rallied to chase the Eagles from being 6-9 down to 14-14, many would have thought an away win was on the cards but a huge block from key player Katie Lomas won the Eagles a crucial point and serve.
At the crucial match point, Catherine Laffan held her nerve on serve and powered the serve into Newcastle Staffs defence which failed for once to make a good pass and so when the attack came it was poor and went out.
Huge celebrations from the home side who stay third in division two. Match sponsor: Jetprints; player of match: Rebecca Laffan – quality passing key to the great attack play.