Omega XL Deacons men and Pan American Life Insurance Warrens women claimed their crowning moment of glory as champions of the Goddard Enterprises Limited Barbados Volleyball Association Senior Knockout Competition contested last night at the Wildey Gymnasium.
The senior men of Deacons slammed Cawmere in straight sets 25-17, 25-16 and 25-21 to lift the title which has eluded them for the past three years. Meanwhile Warrens, the reigning league champions were once again unstoppable winning 3-1 with scores of 16-25, 25-12, 25-12 and 25-21 against Chargers.
Both the men and women’s final were lopsided encounters as Cawmere never posed any real challenge to Deacons with a very youthful attack. Senior national attacker Ahkeem Mayers was extremely destructive from the outside with several crosscourt smashes that left Cawmere’s defence stationary frequently during the final.
With Mayers firing away off some lovely set pieces from veteran player Ronald Rice and the Oxley cousins of Akeel and Ashe, the junior national players with accurate swings when the opportunities presented themselves were entertaining to watch.
It was the right blend of youth and experience for the Deacons team captained by Pernell Blunte, one of three veteran players including Nicholas Branker and seasoned libero Sheldon Roach. Even though the junior players stood out in the midcourt, the seniors had a good time delivering at integral moments when the team needed them to perform.
A few spectators vented their frustration and called for their entrance fees to be returned because of Cawmere’s dismal showing. For some reason, Cawmere, the reigning kings of the men’s league, were unable able to get things right.
Senior national captain Shawn Simpson along with fellow big hitters Robert Andrews and Mark Lewis was unable to play shots past Deacons’ defence. Similarly, on the receiving end, they struggled horribly and gave away possession unnecessarily with several bad serves.
Speaking after the final, Pernell explained that the strategy for this season was togetherness and praised his young team for their performance. He said Deacons came into the championship match with a gameplan and delivered thanks to coaches Andrew Culpepper and the Oxley brothers Patrick and Elywn.
“The title has eluded us for the last three or four years, we came out this year with a mindset, focused and ready to play…We are playing as a family that is the most important thing – playing as a team. We got each other’s back, we don’t quarrel, we don’t bicker, and at the end of the day we leave everything on the court,” Pernell said.
In the women’s final, Chargers did everything right to capture the opening set, but Warrens showed why they are the top team in the island. Even without their experienced setter Sophia Walcott, Warrens adjusted well with Anthazia Mason filling that position.
Known for her destructive attacking plays, Mason showed her versatility by providing fellow national players Anicia Wood, Rheann Niles-Mapp, Xhane Greenidge and club captain Talya Layne with lovely set plays.
Chargers’ defence was unable to combat those attacks and Warrens with well-placed serves by Lisa Austin produced an all-around team effort that was deserving of the resounding win.
Victorious coach Mark Lewis said that after losing the title last year to University of the West Indies Blackbirds, it was an ecstatic feeling to reclaim the trophy. Lewis credited Chargers’ first set performance but praised his team for their smart plays and determination.
The coach expressed confidence of completing the double and said, “We are looking to close the gap on Chargers with their lead.”