Sitting Grand Prix 3: The Eagles fly in
12th December 2018
(Main pic: Deb Elle Photography)
The sitting volleyball community continues to grow as the Sitting Volleyball Grand Prix welcomed another new team at the weekend.
In what was the third grand prix of the season, Telford Eagles Sitting Volleyball Club made their debut and enjoyed their first competitive experience.
“The Grand Prix was a fantastic opportunity for Telford Volleyball Club to gain their first experience of sitting volleyball,” said Paul Twitchell, Telford’s coach. “Every single player thoroughly enjoyed the whole day and learnt valuable lessons in a sport that was totally alien to them.
“As their coach, I am incredibly proud of how the team remained positive throughout all games and we even managed to beat Help for Heroes B team which was a huge achievement. The Eagles smiled, laughed and grew more determined through each game and enjoyed the camaraderie between teams.”
Paul is a weapons technician sergeant in the RAF and was inspired to set up Telford Eagles after representing Team UK at sitting volleyball at the Invictus Games.
“I was fortunate enough to be selected to represent the UK Sitting Volleyball Team at the recent Invictus Games in Sydney, which was a life changing experience,” explained Paul. “I was coached for six months prior to the Games by Richard Osborne of South Hants who inspired me to try my hand at coaching.
“I approached the Telford Volleyball Club committee who offered full support to create a sitting volleyball team within our club. Competing with and against players with physical and psychological limitations in Sydney opened my eyes to the fact that sitting volleyball is one of the very few sports in which abled and less abled bodied people can compete without being disadvantaged, to me this is the ultimate example of sportsmanship.
“I will soon be a qualified coach with the aid of Help for Heroes, this has given me a long-term goal to coach the Invictus sitting volleyball team in a few years’ time."
Believing in the power of sport to a positive influence in people’s lives, Paul wants to see more people give sitting volleyball a go at Telford.
“The main driving force for the future is to provide a fun and enjoyable surrounding for people with any abilities in Shropshire or the local area to witness the power of sport,” said Paul. “Therefore, in the new year we will be running taster training sessions and inviting people of all ages or ability to join us. As head coach of the Eagles, I aim to promote development by producing smiles and laughter on court which will eventually turn into more wins and ultimately lead the Eagles to being victorious in Tier 1 against Help for Heroes A team - challenge on!”
Check out how all the teams fared in the Sitting Volleyball Grand Prix 3 report:
Help4Heroes A stamped their authority on the third Grand Prix of the season to put in a flawless display and surge to the top of the overall league standings. In the group of 5 teams, they won all of their matches to claim maximum points.
They defeated East London Lynx in a nail-biting three-setter. They edged the first set 25-23 before the experienced Lynx team hit back to take the second. In the decider, Help4Heroes kept their composure when it really mattered to force victory 15-13.
Playing the defending national champions Sheffield VC was another stern examination that the Heroes came through. Again, they took the first set but were pegged back so the match went the distance. In the third, they regained the momentum and ran out 15-10 winners to underline their credentials as serious challengers to the top prize this season.
Their two other victories were more comfortable as they defeated Lincoln SVC and South Hants in straight sets.
The battle for second spot in the group was a fierce three-way battle. When rivals Lynx and Sheffield went head-to-head it was the team from the steel city who came out on top, as they did in last season’s Sitting Grand Prix final. The pair shared the first two sets and the third turned into a tense finale with Sheffield taking it 19-17.
South Hants blew it wide open though by beating Sheffield but losing to Lynx. With Lincoln SVC winless, that left Hants, Lynx and Sheffield all with two victories each and it was left to the competition organisers to work out on sets and points scored who would finish where. Lynx took second as they had won the most sets out of three, while Sheffield edged into third ahead of Hants by virtue of having a better points difference.
Lincoln SVC finished bottom without a victory and were relegated to Tier Two, although will be favourites to bounce straight back.
With six teams, it was a busy day of action in tier two that saw Loughborough Fusion win the group to make an immediate return to tier one following relegation at the second grand prix.
Fusion won four out of their five matches, defeating Essex Pirates, South Hants 2, Sitting Bucks and debutants Telford Eagles to claim top spot.
Help4Heroes B were the only team to conquer Fusion and took second spot. They added wins against South Hants 2 and Sitting Bucks and by virtue of bonus points that are given in Tier Two for having players with a disability, pipped Sitting Bucks to second spot.
Despite just missing out on second place in the tier, Sitting Bucks will be delighted with their landmark performance at the Grand Prix. Having only formed this season, Bucks had not won a game at the two previous events. This time they notched three wins, beating Essex Pirates, South Hants 2 and Telford, as they continue to improve and become a force.
South Hants 2 and Essex Pirates each recorded two wins but Hants took fourth by gaining more bonus points.
Telford Eagles propped up the tier but on debut will not care a jot having managed to gain a win on their first ever outing. They beat the experienced Help4Heroes B 2-1 and were competitive in all their other matches.
As always, the event was played in a welcoming and fun atmosphere with the officials donning some of their best Christmas jumpers and festive hats!