Omega Deacons and Cawmere showed resilience to come from behind in their respective semifinal matches last night to reach the championship game of the 2018 Goddard Enterprises Limited Senior Knockout Competition at the Wildey, St Michael Gymnasium.
The opening semifinal encounter went down to five sets and Deacons emerged victorious 3-2 over Progressive during the two hours and 26 minutes-long pulsating showdown that ended 25-22, 18-25, 27-29, 25-16 and 15-9.
It was a thrilling contest, and Progressive coached by Marcus Green lost the first set but dug deep to lead 2-1 and put Deacons under pressure as they lost two straight games.
Seasoned libero Sheldon Roach was one of those who buckled with the usage of somewhat colourful language on the court to express his frustration. Surprisingly, Roach was not disciplined for such behaviour in the presence of the officials.
Deacons needed to refocus and after a short break before the fourth set commenced they looked more determined than ever before to take the momentum away from Progressive in a must-win situation.
And they did just that by dominating both the penultimate and decisive sets to ensure their place in the final with a collective effort led by veteran setter Ronald Rice who delivered lovely set pieces that Deacons’ attack chewed up.
Senior national player Ahkeem Mayers was destructive on attack along with Akeel Stoute, Pernell Blunt, Nicholas Branker and cousins Ashe and Akeel Oxley who are the sons of former senior national players Elwyn and Patrick Oxley.
Deacons captured a 16-9 advantage at the second mandatory break of the fourth set, and that was a clear indication that Progressive was in for a hammering. From a seven-point deficit, Progressive went on to lose by nine points 25-16 as they were unresponsive to Deacons line-up mixed with youth and experience.
Having managed to tie the game 2-2 by claiming the fourth period, Deacons romp to a 6-2 lead in the decisive set that forced Progressive to call timeout. But that talk didn’t have much of an effect as Deacons continued their onslaught and at 13-7 they bag those two match winning points that came through Mayers and Ashe Oxley with several hits throughout the exchange.
Former national player Fabian Cox along with Rico Brathwaite and Chioke Holder were all unstoppable when they got it right in the frontcourt for Progressive. But Roach and fellow libero Khadio Gittens did well on defence for Deacons, as those two did well to keep the ball alive in a game that had long rallies.
The other semifinal matchup failed to whet the appetites of local volleyball spectators as Cawmere the reigning league champions slammed 2017 knockout kings Chargers 3-1.
Cawmere went ahead 25-21, 25-23 and even though Chargers led by the national vice-captain Alain London was able to clinch the third set 25-19, there was no stopping the men in yellow with another convincing win 25-18 to close out the game during the fourth.
Cawmere were ferocious at the nets going after anything that was there for national captain Shawn Simpson, Rafael Lovell, and Mark Lewis to dismiss. Chargers needed bigger covers to defend against those three.
The presence of former national player Dale Addison who is out of the country might have assisted Chargers in their fightback. But instead they looked clueless, and the match ended up being a dull, one-sided affair.