Sunderland City Predators will be looking for a first cup title in the club’s history when the women’s Volleyball team face Team Essex Trinity on April 2.
The girls have managed to set, spike and volley their way to the final of the Women’s National Shield. They will also be travelling to the National Volleyball Centre in Kettering to play in, what is arguably, their biggest match since the club’s formation.
Having only formed three years ago, this will be the team’s first experience of a cup final after their semi-final victory over Coventry and Warwick Riga in four sets.
Predators coach Steven Anderson is feeling confident that his side can claim silverware by lifting the National Shield this season, but he will remain “extremely proud, regardless of the result.”
He said: “The girls have trained so hard – probably the best they have trained for the last couple of weeks and their effort has been fantastic.
“All of our league games are good preparation for what we see as a potentially winnable cup final in Kettering.
“It is a great achievement for the girls and whatever happens in the final, the season will be looked at as a great success.
“The girls have been performing very well this season in the league and the cup competition. Coming up from Division 3 made us wary of what we were able to achieve for the year.
“There is an outside chance that Sunderland can make the play-offs but as far as I’m concerned, to reach the Shield final and to be in the position we are in (fourth place in the league) is a really strong effort.”
Sunderland have been training regularly on a Thursday and they have been going from strength to strength, according to Anderson.
He said: “I cannot praise the girls enough as they have been excellent.
“Our performance in the semi-final was very impressive. If we can apply the same form in the final, there is a very good chance we can win the trophy.
“We are very much focused on the Shield as we would love to return to Sunderland with some silverware.
“We have really pushed on in the second half of this season, winning in the league against the leaders Birmingham and showing our quality in big matches.
“We have managed to get results by coming from behind in matches and managing to dig deep to win which is a testament to the girl’s high fitness levels and mental strength.
“This will be crucial when we head down to Kettering to play in the final.”
Sunderland’s path to cup glory will be heavily tested when they will face tough competition from Essex, who currently control the top of Division 2 South.
However, the Wearside team have lost only two sets in this year’s tournament and will be desperate for cup success.
After a season full of praise for Sunderland City Predators, they will be hoping go one step further and bring back the cup.