A 13-YEAR-OLD netball star from Appleton was jumping for joy on court after 'blocking out' the crowd to help her team be crowned champions.

Withington Girls' School's squad, which included year eight pupil Erin Howells, battled their way through five qualifying rounds in the Independent Schools Netball Cup before securing victory in the under-13s final against Brentford School.

It was the first time the Manchester school has lifted a major netball championship trophy in its history.

Coach Alexa Collier said she was 'extremely proud' of the side for their efforts throughout the tournament.

And Erin, who is also a member of Cheshire's development team, admits focusing on the task at hand played a key role in the success.

"I was very proud – it was great to be part of the winning team," she said.

"We marched on to music at the beginning and went off to music at the end – the whole experience was really exciting.

"There was a lot of noise because Brentwood had so many spectators and we had only 10 parents with us so I just blocked it all out and concentrated on the game.

"I didn't watch the clock, so when the buzzer went off I was surprised to find out it was over and we'd won. I was so happy."

Erin dedicated the victory to the 'excellent' coaching team but staff believe all the credit must go to pupils.

Miss Collier said: "Intense defensive play, determination and the ability to dig deep when things got tough were the qualities that helped us succeed.

"My fellow netball coach Kate Orme and I are extremely proud of Erin and the rest of the year eight squad, they have worked really hard to achieve this.

"All the girls have been following a training plan at home too which has put them ahead of each team during the rounds.

"We are thrilled to have made school history."