The May Day Bank Holiday weekend saw over 450 junior athletes from across the country descend on Loughborough for two days of volleyball - The Inter Regional Championships. This year teams from Wales and Northern Ireland were invited. The Welsh had teams in the Under 14 Girls and Under 15 Boys, with Northern Ireland fielding Under 16 Girls and Under 17 Boys teams. Yorkshire sent four squads to compete against the rest.
Under 14 Girls
The Under 14 Girl's competition is a 4 v 4 game on courts 12 x 6m. As it is 4 v 4 the squad is split into two - an 'A' and a 'B' team who play in seperate competitions. The results from both the teams are then combined for each region to produce an overall placement.
The 'A' team were drawn in a pool that would turn out to be sufficiently more difficult than the other. However the girls put in some fantastic performances finishing 3rd in the pool narrowly missing out on a semi final place. The highlight match was the game against South East. Having the fortunate position of being able to watch them play in the previous days action showed that they were a tall, well drilled team that would be tough to beat. Although the 1st set was close, Yorkshire were behind for the majority of the set. However they had learnt from the previous day not to give up on any rally and a determine Yorkshire side closed the gap and took the set.
The second set was also very close with the momentum being transferred between the teams. Again though Yorkshire kept their nerve and edged the second set to complete the win. This win meant that they played off against the team that finished 3rd in the other pool to determine who would finish 5 and 6. The girls opponents would be close rivals North East. Yorkshire outclassed their opponents in the first set racing away to an early lead that North East would fail to close. In the second set, North East raised their game and things were tight right to the end of the set. Yorkshire were determined that they wouldnt let their opponents back into the game though and closed out the game 2-0 resulting in a 5th place finish in the 'A' competition.
The 'B' team also finished 3rd in their pool after some remarkable play. Considering the team of five had never played a competitive match together, the team spirit was outstanding. This was a group of players that didnt want to lose a single point. Various comments were made from the coaches of other regions and Volleyball England staff about the potential of the players within the team as they put into practice everything that they had been doing in training. Lily Hall was dominant at the net with all the other teams unable to deal with her blocking. Lauren Midgley is rapidly demonstrating her potential with some mature, intelligent play. Consistently strong serving from Lauren was putting the opposition under pressure that they couldnt cope with.
Finishing 3rd in the pool meant a play off against the team from Wales to determine 5th and 6th place. Yorkshire came out fighting from the start and consistant strong passing and serving from Alice Walton and Joanne led the team into an uncatchable position. Courtney was quick around the court and her determination not to let the Welsh win a rally kept the scoreboard ticking over for Yorkshire.
Securing 5th place in both competitions led to an overall 3rd place. This is a fantastic result and one that everyone involved with the squad can be proud of. With a large portion of the squad still available to play in the under 14s next season, there are high hopes of further improvement on this fantastic performance next year.
Thank you for all the supporters who turned up to support the teams. The noise and atmosphere you created was awesome!
Under 15 Boys
vs East, 0-2 (5-25, 11-25)
vs South East, 1-2 (25-15, 13-25, 8-15)
vs East Midlands, 0-2 (13-25, 7-25)
vs North East, 2-0 (25-0, 25-0)
vs Wales, 1-2 (13-25, 25-18, 15-17)
vs North West, 0-2 (9-25, 14-25)
The raw results show 4 sets won, 12 sets lost, in 6 games, but this includes a 2-0 walk-over victory over the North East, who didn't turn up. The Inter Regional Championships were a very positive experience, given that this is the first time in years that Yorkshire has been represented. The players and coaches have gained valuable experience, that we can take forward in to the future.
Yorkshire Under 15 Boys
Tom Allen, Ryan Bellas, Harry Bingham, Tom Boldeson, James Griffin, Ryan Langley, Liyam Laraba (All Kings School, Pontefract), Nic Ivin (Stokesley), David Parkin (Boathouse). Coach: Mike Turner.
Under 16 Girls
Report to follow
Under 17 Boys
Great team spirit from all the boys which they kept up during the course of both days. Chris Speers proved himself an excellent captain, leading by example to which the rest of the team responded.
Yorkshire were drawn in a very tough pool which would produce both finalists. To have their first competitive matches together as a team against some very good experienced teams was never going to be easy, but they responded well.
Their first game was against eventual runners up London and the team put in a great performance to get both set scores to 25-11. The highlight of the weekend was to be leading a very experienced North West team 19-12 in the first set only to eventually lose the set 25-23, but the boys experienced what it was like to be on top and put the opposition under pressure.
The boys certainly gained valuable experience and they can be more than satisified to have competed at the highest level possible. The coaching staff are confident that they have a solid base to work on going forward into next season. The boys finished in 10th place overall