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‘Boost fitness and blocking’

Kenmore Bynoe

‘Boost fitness and blocking’

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For Barbados to advance from Group I of the NORCECA FIVB Qualification World Championship Qualifier here next year, volleyballers will need to step up their fitness levels and blocking.
That is the view of long-serving coach Ludger Niles as well as captain Jamaal Nedd after Barbados faltered badly in their Group E finals in Grand Cayman to lose for the first time to Suriname, going down in five sets after dismissing the South American opponents in four sets in the preliminaries.
“Our team was short of practice as a unit and considering that this is a relatively new group of players we made too many technical errors and came up short against Suriname in the second encounter,” said Niles.
“The domestic league will be ending within the next couple of weeks, so that will free up the players so that we can really push our fitness level. We know the natural ability of our volleyballers gives them an edge in the earlier games and sets, but we really need the fitness in the decisive sets and matches.
“Physical fitness is also critical for mental fitness, as when the physical wanes the players have been seen to make poor decisions in attack and defence,” reasoned Niles.
Centre player Nedd, who joined the national programme at the Junior CVC in Jamaica in 1999, acknowledged that the blocking was disappointing in Cayman which allowed Suriname to upset favourites Barbados.
“We need to work more on our blocking as individuals and as a team since teams will be running their quick and double attacks to exploit our blocking weaknesses,” Nedd said.
“We lost two very experienced players in Dale Addison and Elwyn Oxley who were recognized for their setting and spiking skills. But Dale and Elwyn are two very strong net and ground defenders, which is where we need all of our players to reach to ensure that we do well and advance from the next round.
“We received tremendous support from the Bajans living in the Caymans and we expect to get even greater support playing at home next year. It will be positive pressure for our young team to grow and do well,” said the new captain.
While Niles was disappointed that Barbados did not take the gold in Cayman, he mused that losing could be a blessing in disguise.
“We will face Nicaragua in our next round, while the winners from the last group, Suriname, will have to battle a much tougher opponent in Guatemala.
“With that assignment ahead, we will be focusing on more of those taller juniors to make it even tougher for spots on next year’s World Championship squad,” Niles said.