VOLLEYBALL: FOR the second time this season the Eels just failed to take the honours against north west rivals City of Preston.
Although frustrated by another 3-2 loss, the Eels can take some comfort from the fact that they almost matched second-placed Preston, a far more experienced side than themselves.
The first set started badly for the Eels, who went 5-0 down, but the team rallied well to level at 12-12.
They continued to press home their advantage causing Preston to use both their time outs at 12-15 and 16-21. Preston then began to control things and not only saved a set point at 23-24 but then served for the set at 25-24.
The Eels were able to win the set with Richie Williams making his fifth kill of the set. On the final point he executed a spectacular two-man block to take the set 27-25.
The second set once again saw Preston pull out an early lead at 7-1 only for the Eels to fight back to trail by only 11-13. A run of poor service receives led to the Eels losing seven of the next eight points and they loss the set 25-18.
The third set was almost a reverse of the second with the Eels taking a 7-1 lead only for Preston to level at 14-14, before the Eels took 11 of the following 16 points to win 25-18.
Preston raised their game in the fourth set with Uve Anger-meyer, their 6ft 6ins German player, inspirational and Preston took the set 25-17.
The Eels lost out in the final set - first to 15 - by 15-9.
The wing-hitting of Richie Mackie and Richie Williams was particularly impressive.
The Eels actively won more points than their rivals but that this was more than cancelled out by the fact that they gifted Preston more points through errors and occasional slack play.
The Eels are confident that the second half of the season can see them improve on their won two, lost eight record with the return from injury of Ian Hughes and John Roach to bolster the squad for their eight remaining matches, five of which are against teams below them in the league.