Host country, US Virgin Islands set up a much anticipated semifinal meeting with three-time defending champions and four-time winners, T&T after battling past Guadeloupe in five entertaining sets in their quarterfinal clash at the 14th Senior Women’s Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association Championship (CAZOVA) on Friday night. USVI won 25-18, 19-25, 25-14, 23-25, 15-13 in ten minutes short of two hours in the second match of a doubleheader at the Richard “Ranchee” Charles Gymnasium, Kingshill, St Croix , US Virgin Islands. Valissia Brathwaite was once again the top scorer for USVI with 23 points, which included 16 kills while Danielle Selkridge added 14 and Janelle Sarauw,12 for the winners who dominated on service aces, 18-3 while it trailed om blocks, 12-14. For Guadeloupe, which had to deal with the absence of one of its players due to illness in the third set, Amandine Mauricette had a team-high 17 points and captain Isabelle Acina, 12 in the loss. With the win, USVI now meets T&T on Saturday from 8 pm in the second semifinal while Guadeloupe faces two-time champions, Bahamas for fifth spot at 4pm. Jamaica and six-time winners Barbados play the other semifinal from 6 pm.
Acina, commenting on the match said, “We wanted to reach the semifinals, but tonight we came up against a good team. For the result we are not satisfied with the outcome but we can take some positives in that we were better with our service game today.” Melissa Simmonds, vice-captain of USVI said her teammates started off strong, then slowed down. “It was a competitive match and we put together a complete team effort. Even the players who came off the bench, came in and played excellently. “...Credit to Guadeloupe, they played a good match but we had an all-round team effort and in the end got the victory.” Jean-Louis Delag, Guadeloupe coach said his players were not satisfied with the result of the match because they wanted to win, but for him he was satisfied: “We tried to fight but tonight we came against the host country and they did not want to lose. They played a great game and fought for every point.” Desiree Miranda, assistant coach of the USVI was quick to point out it was an excellent match by both team: “Guadeloupe came out in full force and played a tremendous match and pushed us to the limit. They played with a great togetherness and even though one of their players fell ill in the match, they continued to fight, so I congratulate their team and coach. As a team we had to work hard to beat Guadeloupe...We want to win because we are playing at home and we want to show our spectators that volleyball is here to stay.”
...Bajans come from behind for semis spot
Six-time champions Barbados overcame a first-set setback to defeat two-time winner Bahamas in four sets in the first of the two quarterfinals on Friday night. Led by Shari Matthews’ 18 points, and 16 and 13 from Anica Wood and Avara Brown respectively, Barbados won 23-25, 25-12, 25-13, 25-21 in one hour, 34 minutes to set up a semifinal meeting on Saturday with Jamaica from 6pm. For Bahamas, which will meet Guadeloupe in the playoff for fifth place from 4 pm on Saturday, Cheryse Bain and Kelsie Johnson each had 11 points. The Barbadians also dominated on blocks and service aces, 10-8 and 16-9 respectively while committing 32 errors to Bahamas’ 20. The Jamaicans (seven points) qualified automatically after toppings its three-team round-robin Pool B based on points earned ahead of USVI and Bahamas, which both ended with four points.
Speaking after the match Krystel Rolle, captain of Bahamas said her team started well but then fell apart: “We got off to a slow start but managed to come back and win the first set, but in the second and third sets we broke down mentally and by the time the fourth set came around we had already dug ourselves into a hole, which we could net get out of.” Joe Smith, coach of the Bahamas squad which will now play for fifth and sixth spot on Saturday said his team needed to be more consistent to have a real impact on the game: “Congrats to Barbados though, for a well-played game but our passing tonight was horrible; while, on the defensive end we found ourselves out of position too many times.” Andrew Brathwaite, coach of Barbados said, “It is always a tough battle for his team when it comes up against Bahamas and tonight was no different.” “However, tonight our team was much more consistent and they stuck to the game plan and executed better as a team, while on the defence we nullified their attacks.”