Beach volleyball queens retain title
SHARI MATTHEWS and Canadian partner Leila Pieper are still the queens of Sizzlin’ Sands Beach Volleyball while the all-Bajan duo of Elwyn Oxley and Gregory Gill reclaimed the men’s crown when the ninth edition of the popular tournament climaxed on Brandons Beach last Sunday.
Playing in front of a large crowd, the Lazy Days/Brydens-sponsored pair of Matthews and Pieper battled from one set down to repeat their 2011 triumph over Canadian pair Karen Sutherland and Maxine James 18-21, 21-6, 15-13.
Oxley and Gill enjoyed an easier journey after accelerating in the first
set to stomp Daran Gill and his Jamaican partner Mark Lewis 21-14, 21-15.
Gill and Lewis employed the strategy of serving to a less than fully fit Oxley (who had surgery on his right shoulder earlier in the year) to surge from 3-6 to an 11-6 lead.
However, a serving error by Daran Gill allowed the opponents to regroup. Gregory Gill took the lead and went on the attack, taking the score to 20-14, before Oxley capped the set with a kill on an over pass.
With Oxley and Gill continuing to keep the first ball away from Lewis to deny the 6’5” spiker any attacks and with Gill making a number of unforced spiking errors, the former kings then wrapped up the match to claim the first prize of $1 000.
Gill and Lewis won $600, and $400 went to Winston Gittens and Kengie Matthews who were third overall.
Oxley said he felt the comeback in the first set demoralized Lewis and Gill and paved the way for another beach success for him and Gill.
“It was obvious that they were targeting me with the serves because of my shoulder but that only inspired my partner Gilly to play even tougher.
“After we came back in that first set it broke their spirit,” stated Oxley, who indicated that his future focus would be competing on the beach.
Matthews and Pieper used a similar strategy of attacking the weaker James, while the Canadian duo kept their focus on Pieper. A lapse in focus by Matthews and Pieper saw the visitors taking the close first set.
There was nothing close about the second as Pieper attacked with aggression.
However, the decider was tense with the scores locked from 7-7 to 13-13 until a fantastic dig by Matthews led to a cut shot and point to bring up game and match point.
A wide hit from James then gave the champions their second successive beach crown. The third prize went to Julia Lewis and Anthazia Mason.
Matthews was not confident that they would be back to defend in 2013.
She said: “It is rather challenging for Pieper to fly down for this tournament considering that the first prize is so small. Unless there is an increase in prize money it would not make any economic sense for my partner to return.”