Off to winning start
Pointe-a-Pitre – Jabarry Goodridge and Andriy Stapleton combined for 32 points as a balanced Barbados attack stumped defending champions Curaçao in 3-2 (25-19, 16-25, 23-25, 25-17, 15-10 in their Group “A” opener of the Ninth Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) Junior Men’s Championship.
Goodridge tallied 20 points, including 15 kills, four blocks and one ace, while Stapleton added 12 points, all kills, in the see-saw battle which lasted five minutes short of two hours at the Paul Chonchon Sports and Cultural Centre in the Under-21 competition.
Stephen Packer chipped in with eight points, while Carlos Cyrus and captain Ammuniki Wood got six apiece. Kimar Hinds added five and the pair of Darien Seale and Chioke Holder, four each for the 1997 and 2005 champions, who are seeking a top three finish for the first time since 2007, when they got bronze.
Overall, it was a good team effort from the Barbadians who outscored their opponents on spikes (45-36) and blocks (15-5) to make amends for their lack of firepower on service aces, which Curacao dominated 12-5.
Derrick Alexander had the hot hands for Curacao with 17 points, punctuated with 12 kills and four service aces, while Gilbert Vivo had 16, highlighted by 12 kills and one block. Captain Sharif Gabriel had 12 in the loss.
As expected, both teams showed signs of nervousness in their opening encounter and going forward they will be keen to reduce the number of errors committed, 43 by the victorious Barbadians and 39 by Guadeloupe.
Speaking after the match, a stunned Gabriel was lost for words, only able to say the match was good and his team too inconsistent.
While delighted with the victory, Wood said his team’s lack of scoring on free balls was a negative side to their game and they would need to prepare to face tougher opponents.
Barbados’ coach John Stuart stressed that while he was happy to start off with a win, the outcome could have gone either way.
“Winning your first match is always a blessing because Curacao is not an easy team by any means. We were too up and down as a team and the way it went, either team could have won, but we are fortunate to get the win and we are happy,” he said.
Today, Curaçao will be keen to rebound when they faces United States Virgin Islands in their second Pool A match, while Pool “B” will finally sstart with 2009 champions and host Guadeloupe up against two-time runner-up The Bahamas. (PR