Defending knockout kings Chargers and Flow Deacons are once again set to face off on court, as the two archrivals in local volleyball have captured respective wins for a place in the Goddard Enterprises Limited senior knockout final.
Playing last night in Oldbury, St Phillip, Chargers stormed past Cawmere in straight sets 25-15, 25-23 and 25-21 for a shot at defending the men’s knockout title against Deacons who dropped the first set, 22-25 playing Foundation United, but eventually rallied to clinch the next three sets 25-20, 25-20 and 25-23 for a comfortable 3-1 victory.
As the story continues, this is the second consecutive year that Chargers and Deacons will play each other in the knockout decider. Whether Deacons with an unbeaten run so far in this year’s competition have what it takes to dethrone Chargers is a script that would definitely be known by Sunday night when both the men and women’s finals are contested at Oldbury.
Cawmere, without national captain and one of their ace attackers, Shawn Simpson, currently on duty with the national squash team, held their own on attack with the likes of Mark Lewis in the middle and Robert Anderson on the outside.
However Dale Addison and his men were also equal to the task with lovely set pieces from Alain London to six- footers Romel Agard, Nicholas Matthias, along with Ashan Jordan just to name the main forces of Chargers’ attack on the night.
Jordan, in particular, got off to a slow start with a few unforced errors in the opening set but found some momentum when he jumped and made connection with a ball that landed on the right side of Robert Gooding’s jaw to the delight of the small but vocal crowd.
That play certainly woke up Gooding more than it did the crowd in the second set as he executed two furious shots down the line, to which Chargers’ defence had no response. Despite that energy Chargers were unstoppable and determined to reach the finals, which they did with a breeze.
Foundation United got off to a fiery start as they placed the ever competitive and dangerous Deacons side on the back foot rather early, led by the hard-hitting Darien Seale, noticeably fist-pumping whenever he scored a point.
That momentum was short-lived though, as Deacons rose to the occasion to tie the game 1-1 in the second set and went on to take a 2-1 advantage, with credit to senior national players Ahkeem Mayers and Kyle Browne, who were well supported by cousins Akeel and Ashe’ Oxley.
Browne, in particular, was fearless and unstoppable on top of the nets, smashing each ball served up through Foundation’s defence.
Having gained a 2-1 lead, the only thing left for Deacons to do was finish off their opposition and they give their junior players on the bench a chance to do so but Foundation proved stubborn, as they came from 11 points down (9-20) to a three-point deficit (21-24), which forced Deacons coach Patrick Oxley to call time out.
On resumption, Patrick Oxley opted not to take any further risk, as he brought back his senior players to finish the job, which they did by two points in the fourth set.
Meanwhile in the women’s final, defending knockout queens Pan American Life Insurance Warrens dug deep to come from behind and stave off Flow Sentry Deacons 22-25, 25-19, 27-29, 25-23 and 15-9 in a fifth set battle this past Sunday at Oldbury. They will take on newly promoted Division One team, University of the West Indies Blackbirds, after registering a 21-25, 25-10, 25-18, 23-25 and 15-11 victory over Burger King Clapham Toners.