Barbados dig deep for victory
Stories bykenmore bynoeFORMER Caribbean Volleyball champions Barbados men continued their dangerous alliance with five setters yesterday. They dominated, slipped and then edged the dangerous Netherlands Antilles 25-20, 25-17, 25-27, 23-25, 15-12, in their second game of the 13th CVC in Paramaribo, Suriname. After struggling past the unfancied Guadeloupe by a similar margin on Sunday, Barbados were expected to find stiff opposition against the Netherlands who had beaten them twice in 1995 and in 2004 when in the return game in the finals the Bajans triumphed.
Barbados battled to grab the first two sets before losing momentum to allow the Netherlands to even the contest and to awaken the ghost of 2008 when they lost the Caribbean crown to Martinique after being up two sets. However, the experience of the Bajans and the never say die attitude of captain Elwyn Oxley, who smashed a game high 21 kills and scored three blocks, regained the advantage in the fifth set. Even so, Oxley was upstaged by youngster Akeem Payne who came up big with 17 kills and two blocks. In the decisive fifth set, Payne executed two monster blocks and blasted two kills at a critical juncture to see Barbados home.
Fabian Cox was also a solid contributor for the Bajans with 16 kills and five blocks. Barbados will now prepare to play their final preliminary game tomorrow against Trinidad and Tobago. A victory for Barbados will see them to their 12th consecutive semi-finals berth at the championships. Coach Ludger Niles was confident that with all of his players fit, he would turn around their recent poor form against Trinidad and Tobago. “We were forced to play without our libero Rico Brathwaite, who was under medical care as he was suffering with vomiting and stiffness in his joints,” Niles said.
“The players have shown the benefit of the long training sessions we have been putting in since January and with a full team our fitness and fighting spirit will be crucial in the remaining matches.”