PARAMARIBO: Barbados stunned two-time defending champions Trinidad and Tobago in an instant classic in the first match of Sunday night’s double-header in the Men’s Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) Championships here at the Ismay Van Wilgen Sporthal, Suriname.
The upset did not seem possible when the 10-time champions Barbados squandered a 17-10 lead and lost the first set, but they somehow managed to shake off the disappointment and eventually still got the job done 23-25, 25-15, 25-23, 19-25, 15-13 in 137 minutes.
TT also battled back from 9-5 down in the decider and also won three straight points when they were two points away from defeat to level proceedings at 13-all.
Very few fans in the stadium would have bet on the favourites losing at this stage, but the Bajans pulled themselves together yet again to take two straight and close it out. “We played like our lives depended on it because we knew it was do or die” said Shawn Simpson, alluding to the fact that Barbados had lost their opening match to Bahamas during the morning session and another defeat would have made it virtually impossible for them to leave Suriname with the title.
The Barbados captain had given his teammates a scare when he fell to the court while spiking a winner to put his team up 18-13 in the opener.
When Simpson returned the score was deadlocked at 21-all, but his injury was not serious and although they eventually lost the game, the Bajans led virtually all the way in the next two.
And when they battled back from 5-2 down in the fourth to hit the front, it seemed like they had taken the fight out of TT.
But champions never give up and TT dug deep to force a fifth set. The three-time champs also fought back twice in the decider, but three times did not prove to be the charm this time.
TT coach Sean Morrison admitted, “We played too relaxed and made too many errors. We cannot afford to do that at this level. Everyone is here to win.”
“Better we lose now than later (in the tournament)” said TT captain Ryan Stewart, who promised that “the best is yet to come.”
Barbados coach Andrew Culpepper noted that their morning defeat was a “reality check” and he was very proud of his players on Sunday night.
The Portugal-based Marc Honore, who has played for his country for well over a decade, led the way for TT with 18 points, and Mikheil Hoyte and Brandon Legall chipped in with 12 apiece.
But the game’s real star was Barbadian Kyle Browne, who scored a tournament high 33 points, 19 more than their next best contributor Simpson.
Both teams are still in contention for the title as TT had begun their campaign with a straight-set win over Haiti in the morning session.
The top two from the five teams at the end of the round-robin stage today will clash for the title during the night session. (norceca.com)