Castle Manor Academy’s under-15s volleyball team finish fifth at National Finals
Castle Manor Academy’s under-15s volleyball team are celebrating after finishing fifth at the National Finals.
The team’s remarkable season culminated with the national event, which recently took place in Kettering, and saw them finish as the fifth-best in the country.
The squad of 12, who only formed in September last year, only came third in the Suffolk competition held last December.
Rob Dovaston, the head of PE at Castle Manor, and the team’s coach, saw enough potential from their performances in that tournament to enter the national competition.
After coming through rounds against teams from across the eastern region, Castle Manor were pitted against London Lynx, EBC Greenhouse and Newcastle Staffs.
In their first game against EBC, the boys held their own, with strong serving from Mikey Cozzi, and a fine mixture of sets from captain Kacper Wiligorski.
Their opponents, however, had too much fire power and Castle Manor went down 25-18, 25-19.
There was no time to rest on their laurels, as Castle Manor were on court again immediately after against the London area champions, London Lynx, who fielded two England juniors.
From the off, Castle Manor, well supported by a vocal army of parents, put their all into defending, both at the net and in the back court.
One block by Idriss Lebbie, on London’s England middle hitter, will live long in the memory of those present.
Great float serving from Connor Wiseman, and clever hitting from Ethan Valente, saw the team record a 25-22, 25-23 victory.
In the final group game, a victory would see Castle Manor through to the semi-finals, but they were up against an excellent outfit, in Newcastle Staffs.
In both sets, Castle Manor held the lead, and it was 12-12 in both sets, but they fell unstuck to one particular server, who made the ball dart all over the court at real pace.
The defence, ably led by Toros Yagir, scrapped until the last point, but it was not to be, with a final score of 25-18, 25-19 in Newcastle’s favour.
Based on points difference, fifth was the final ranking position for Castle Manor. The team’s season will not finish there, though, as they have another game in Frinton soon, and will continue to train towards the Suffolk crown, and also the chance to compete at national level again.
Dovaston said: “A great outcome from the lad’s hard work, dedication and the desire to always get better and never give in.”