It was so nice, Barbados’ volleyball teams had to do it twice.
Both the men and the women ended their final preliminary matches with victories when the 10th CAZOVA Junior Championships continued at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex last night.
The women earned their first win of the competition with a hard-fought 25-19, 17-25, 25-21, 25-20 win over Trinidad Tobago, before the men brought the curtain down with a straight sets 25-19, 25-13, 26-24 victory over winless Martinique.
That win – the third straight for the Bajan men – propelled them into the semifinals, with the women slated to play defending champions Martinique in tonight’s quarterfinal matchup.
With captain Andriy Stapleton resting on the bench with a sore shoulder, the Bajan lads delivered a scrappy performance, laced with unforced errors.
Seemingly cruising to victory in the opening set at 15-4, they then tried almost everything in their power to gift the set to Martinique.
Three service errors along with some lacklustre defense allowed the visitors to get within four at 23-19.
A powerful crosscourt spike by Carlos Cyrus however ended that run as Barbados held on to take a 1-0 lead.
They flipped the script in the ensuing set though, with Adam Niles finally turning up to the party to send two successive spikes through Martinique’s defense to bring the small crowd to its feet.
The visitors didn’t make things any easier for themselves, committing several unforced errors as they fell behind 2-8 by the first technical timeout.
A thunderous spike by Ahkeem Mayers extended that lead to 10-3, before Martinique mounted a short-lived comeback.
Led by star player Rony Dinal and Agesilas, the duo relentlessly attacked Barbados’ blockers who struggled to nullify the double threat.
It allowed them to get within three at 8-11, but that was as close as they would get the remainder of the way.
A 14-5 run by the home side ensured there would be no meltdown, as they took a commanding 2-0 lead.
Martinique actually jumped out to an early 10-4 lead in the third set, as Barbados began to exhibit some complacency in their play.
Niles’ spike was turned back at the net by Agesilas and Lucas Birgitte and that was followed by a booming spike through the center by Dinal.
But through the efforts of Niles and Mayers, Barbados fought back to lock the scores at 11.
And when Niles sent another crosscourt winner pass a stationary Martinique defense to give them a 18-15 lead, it seemed all but over.
The visitors did create some scary moments as they came back to tie the score at 24, but Cyrus and Niles delivered two booming spikes which the defense simply could not handle to close out the match.
While admitting his team did not play a good match, head coach of Barbados John Stuart said he wasn’t too worried about their performance.
“I’m a little concerned, because there was an obvious lack of concentration…but I believe that we will rectify that problem for the semifinals. We’ll be alright,” a confident Stuart said.
He explained that he had taken a decision to rest Stapleton because of the injury.
“The shoulder is still a little sore, but he will definitely be good to play in the semifinals.”