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Golden glory for Barbados boys’ volleyball team

JUSTIN MARVILLE, [email protected]

Golden glory for Barbados boys’ volleyball team

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THE CHAMPS delivered again. Like there was ever a doubt.

Barbados further tightened their grip on the region’s junior volleyball title, capping another impressive tournament run by blasting rivals Trinidad and Tobago off the court in Sunday’s straight-sets championship victory of the CAZOVA final at the Wildey Gym.

With captain courageous Andriy Stapleton bouncing back from a side strain, the hometown heroes put the exclamation point on an emotionally-charged final by winning 25-15, 25-19, 25-22 in front their boisterous fans.

The victory was the crowning moment of a second successive title-winning performance, and fourth overall, coming at a tournament where Barbados failed to drop a single set – or even face set point.

“I said we have to finish this in three sets so we knew everyone had to step up and do what they had to do. We pulled together and I said at the end it would be worth it,” said the 18-year-old Stapleton.

“We couldn’t give Trinidad any hope so we looked to shut them out.”

Yet the visitors very nearly did that, as ferocious outside hitter Marlon Philip led a third-set assault by firing kills from just about anywhere on the court.

It was about the only time this tournament Barbados were truly challenged, with the Trinis leading by as many as four points (19-15) late in the stanza.

But libero Stephen Packer came up with two huge diving digs off Philip before Adam Niles also denied Philip to spark the game-clinching rally.

And Niles was just as crucial on attack after pounding three crucial kills from the outside to go with an even bigger Carlos Cyrus spike down the middle.

They all combined for a frantic 10-3 finish to the game that set off wild scenes of celebrations from both fans and players alike.

Trinidad did threaten early in the first two sets though, surviving a quick 8-3 Barbados start to pull within one (10-9) in the first set.

However, Niles had had a massive kill on the outside and put away an overpass before good serving from Shamar Bishop led to easy balls for the hosts.

The lead re-opened to 17-11 and Stapleton then got involved to close out the set with successive dinks, a big kill and a clutch serve that causes a wayward Trinidad pass.

Barbados had a harder time of it putting away their rivals in the second set, where Philip proved a menace to give them a threatening 13-12 advantage.

But opposite player and tournament MVP Ahkeem Mayers hit a couple telling blows off the blocks before Stapleton followed suit on the outside.

Setter Paul Doughty then caught Trinidad sleeping on a deft dump and Bishop came up with a huge block to give the home side a massive two-set lead.

Such was Barbados’ dominance in the competition that the hosts accounted for most of the individual awards including best setter (Doughty), best opposite (Mayers) and best blocker No.2 (Bishop).

Stapleton led the home side with 15 points, Niles had 13 and Cyrus finished with ten while Philip had a game-high 22 for the visitors. (JM)