Volleyball: Sunderland Predators win five-set thriller to keep promotion hopes alive

Originally published by SportsByte on March 4th 2013.

Sunderland City Predators beat North Riding Eagles in a five-set thriller to keep the heat on league leaders Manchester Marvels in the Womens Division 3 North title race. 

The Predators came from a set down twice and needed the fifth set to beat the Eagles, who gave the Predators one of the toughest games of their season.

North Riding comfortably won the first set 17-25 as the Predators struggled to get a hold of the game.

Sunderland fought back, though, and won a tight but well-earned second set 25-20. But their concentration and energy dipped in the third set, finding themselves 9-15 down at one point and losing 25-27 in the end.

The game was much more closely matched than what was expected before the game given the contrasting seasons the teams had had. The Predators were flying high, fighting for the league title but it was lowly North Riding who most impressed in the first three sets.

Even in the fourth set, they battled well but threw away a three-point lead to eventually lose the set 25-21.

And in the final set, the Predators’ experience and confidence showed as they won 15-10 to take the points in a match that lasted over two hours.

Coach Keith Sowden said: “It didn’t look like we were going to come away with the points but we managed it in the end.

“On the whole, out of the three games left, this was probably going to be the hardest game to win. Now we’ve got three home games in a row, then finish the season off and get the promotion slot we’re after.

“I don’t think we’ll catch Manchester but you should always strive for promotion.”

Predators’ Eve Porter, who was named MVP for the game, added: “There’s still a lot of work to do. We’ve come a long way as a team with our communication and team spirit and stuff so we just need to keep going with that and see how far we get really.”

Sunderland City Predators 3 – 2 North Riding Eagles (17-25, 25-20, 25-27, 21-25, 15-10) 

Predators: Eve Porter, Maria Spanou, Abby Sowden, Laura Cave, Hollie Patterson, Alex Laws, Paule Steikunaite, Konstantina Spanou.

SportsByte’s star player: Eve Porter richly deserved her MVP award and Maria Spanou also deserves a mention as she was the constant source of attack on the left-hand side for Sunderland.

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