The winds of victory blew upon the Deacons Club as both their women and men’s team came out on top in the Goddard Enterprises Limited Division One League encounters played last night at the Wildey Gymnasium.
Rebounding from a disappointing loss on Sunday against Burger King Clapham Toners at Oldbury, the ladies of Deacons were able to produce a 3-2 result to deny defending champions Pan American Life Insurance Warrens their fifth straight win of the division one league.
The momentum interchanged until the final whistle sounded in favour of Deacons 25-17, 19-25, 25-23, 18-25 and 15-9 in a showdown that lasted for two hours and seven minutes.
It was the kind of rivalry many local volleyball enthusiasts have grown accustomed to between these two teams. Warrens looked set to end round one unbeaten, as Chargers,
Phoenix Security Services Carlton Club, Frozen Minis Club United and Toners were all unable to stop them so far in this round. However, it took an experienced Deacons side to do the job, as they were able to deny Warrens that bragging right.
The contest at one point became rather testy as a few words from Deacons coach Andrew Culpepper, directed to one of Warrens most experienced attackers, Talya Layne, manifested into an explosion on court as Layne responded by firing away at his defence whenever the opportunity presented itself to her.
That friendly rivalry certainly made the battle an interesting one but in the end Culpepper and his ladies channelled by the hard-hitting Julia Lewis on the outside along with Shonte Seale were able to trade shots with Layne, former national captain Anthazia Mason and Rhe-Ann Niles, and Warrens clinched the fifth and decisive set by six points for the win.
The men of Deacons had to dig themselves out of a 2-0 stranglehold to come from two sets down and defeat Progressive 3-2.
Progressive led by the aggressive Fabian Cox were in the driver’s seat 25-20 and 26-24 in the first two sets but began to struggle in the third, as they got off to a slow start and trailed Deacons 8-6 and 16-13 at the two respective mandatory timeout periods, thanks to strong attacking plays from Kyle Brown, Akeil Williams and Akeel Oxley.
It took a lot of catching-up for Progressive to steady themselves finally. And even though Cox, a former national attacker, did what he does best and fired balls past Deacons’ defence thanks to Jerome Stuart with great set pieces, there was still quite a lot of work to be done.
Cox was stopped on a few occasions and there was one point during the third set when Progressive were down by two points 20-22 and Cox went after a ball set by Akeem Payne but was unable to get past a good block from Browne and Williams who fist-pumped each other in ecstatic fashion.
It wasn’t too long after that Cox smashed one past Browne and Williams to get his revenge and tie the scores 23-23 with both teams being placed in a must-win situation. Deacons were only breathing a bit easier thanks to a set-piece from Nicholas Branker to Browne for the kill followed by an out of bound shot from Chioke Holder of Progressive.
The battle continued in the fourth set, with both sides refusing to give any quarter, as the scores progressed to 31-31 before Deacons held on for a nail-biting 33-31 result, thanks to two unforced errors committed by Zario Cummins serving out of bound and Akeem Payne with a failed return for Progressive.
That gave Deacons a lifeline, as the game was levelled 2-2 with everything to play for in the fifth and decisive set. Once again a good start was crucial to get ahead and they did just that to clinch the fifth set and come out victorious.