Women's National Cup Final Preview
12th April 2018
Reigning champions, Team Northumbria, will face-off against their closest – in every sense of the word - rivals Team Durham, in Saturday’s women’s volleyball National Cup Final at the National Volleyball Centre, Kettering. Tickets will be available to buy on the door for the prestigious event.
Team Northumbria will go into the final full of confidence as they topped the women’s Super 8s table, with Durham trailing four points behind in second spot. A powerhouse of women’s volleyball for many years, Northumbria have only lost one game all season and have already beaten Team Durham twice during the course of this campaign.
Team Durham are the current Super 8s Champions though and will come into the final on the back of five successive victories, having not lost a set during that time. Although Durham have not beaten their opponents in the league since they were promoted back in 2015-2016, they will take huge confidence from beating them over two legs in the final of the Super 8 Playoffs last season.
A titanic clash
It’s no surprise to see the best two teams in women’s volleyball reach the final but reaching the Saturday's showpiece still means a lot to both clubs, particularly Team Durham for whom it is a landmark achievement.
In contrast to the many National Cup Finals Team Northumbria have reached, this will be Team Durham’s first and Claire Felix – Team Durham’s Head Coach – is extremely proud of the club’s achievements: “We are incredibly humbled to be headed into the National Cup Final for the first time in club history, on the men’s or women’s sides.”
To get there, Team Durham made light work of the first two rounds of the tournament, overcoming Leeds RGA VC and Birmingham in straight sets. They found the quarter final a more competitive affair coming out eventual winners against Team BU Wessex, 3-1 in sets. The nerve wracking semi-final provided some high-end entertainment with momentum back and forth however, Team Durham eventually overcame a gallant Pulsepoint London Orcas team in five sets.
Team Northumbria meanwhile have not lost a single set as they booked their final berth. They defeated Hull Thunder, Manchester Marvels 1, City of Salford VC and Polonia SideOut London on their way to Saturday’s final.
Although Team Northumbria’s journey to the final has been seemingly easy, this does not mean they are not excited to be at their sixth final in a row: “We are obviously delighted to reach another cup final,” explained David Goodchild – Team Northumbria’s coach, “but without the victory will mean very little.”
Sizing up the opposition
Team Northumbria may be favourites to win the Cup again, but that does not mean they will take Durham lightly. Head coach David Goodchild is well aware of his rival’s quality.
“Durham have a fantastic setter, who I know well, in Whit Wilde. If they pass well then this will be a closer game as they have good middles, but so do I,” says Goodchild.
“The serve and serve receive battle will have a significant outcome on this game and I know Durham will be working very hard on this area of their game as this is where we have outmatched them previously. We will stick to our game plan but obviously have some contingencies too.”
Durham’s Claire Felix knows how strong Team Northumbria are and is expecting a tough match: “As always, we are expecting a great match from another great team. They have a strong coaching staff, and are gifted with many resources. Their girls are well trained and very disciplined, and are great competitors.”
Felix says Team Durham are looking to keep it simple and look at their own performance: “As a team, we are going to focus on being the best us that we can be. We will train every chance we can to play as one and sacrifice for one another.”
Winning the trophy
“It would be an incredible honour to come back to Durham with the trophy," says Felix. "We play not only for each other and the love of the game, but for the incredible university that supports us and with the hope that we can inspire the youth of England to play volleyball and continue to help the sport grow.”
Team Northumbria’s coach Goodchild believes winning the trophy would be the culmination of his players talents and work rate. He says: “I have never met a group of players who have worked as hard as these ladies. They deserve to win the trophy and that would mean we have succeeded in one of our long-term goals. The dedication, desire, and work ethic these players show on a daily basis (on and off court) is truly amazing. I must mention that we have 17 players and this is a squad effort as only 12 can be named for the final. Every player has played a part in reaching this final.”
Can Team Durham cause an upset as they did in last year’s Super 8s Play Final? The trophy will be heading to the North East to one of the juggernauts of women’s volleyball – but who will it be?