Flying high


Newly promoted Division One team University of the West Indies (UWI) Blackbirds are off to a flying start in the Goddard Enterprises Limited Volleyball Knockout Competition.

UWI landed a comfortable 3-0 victory against Carlton last night at the Kensington Oval Bond, as they began their quest to conquer this level after a dominant display in Division Two last season.

The final scores were 25-19, 25-18 and 25-21 and it should come as no surprise that UWI Blackbirds continue to ascend. After all they have two of the most experienced attacking volleyball players in Sharon Bovell and Dania Hamilton leading the way.

Carlton attacker Rhea Bryant being blocked by Teneille Chapman- Goodluck and Sharon Bovell of University of the West Indies Blackbirds. (Picture by Morissa Lindsay)

Having won the toss, UWI began on a high with their efficient play. They took a two-point lead compliments Cherisse Austin with consecutive ace serves and then at the first mandatory break were up 8-7.

Carlton, coached by former national player Michael Brathwaite, was able to break in one on resumption thanks to Tressan Gordon with a good hit and she then followed up with a lovely floated serve that UWI were unable to defend to give her team the lead 9-8. The scores remained very close during this period, moving from 8-8, 9-9 to 10-10 and it was just a matter of which team could break the deadlock and create some daylight.

Bovell, a player and coach, along with captain Hamilton, instructed their charges to defend while they focused their attention on attack, exhibiting great spiking form up front. Carlton were unable to read the ball at times and even worse they failed to block at the top of the nets. With the score locked at 10, UWI ended the stalemate as they proceeded to score 15 points compared to nine by Carlton to earn an important 1-0 lead.

In order for Carlton to subdue UWI, they needed to get parity in the second set and after leading 7-3 they looked set to increase the momentum in their favour. But the UWI players scrambled, hustled and dived to keep the ball alive on the court and rallied their way back to a one-point deficit (7-8).

Carlton had to dig deep to regain control at 14-11, making UWI trail for the second time in the second set. But Blackbirds proved equal to the challenge, securing the three points needed to tie the score 14-14, as both teams were kept on their toes in order to keep the ball alive on numerous occasions.

Carlton attackers Rhea Bryant and Annette Chapman led from the front but at times they found it difficult to get past the cover of Austin and Teneille Chapman-Goodluck and on occasions the pair of Chapman-Goodluck and Bovell, who proved to be extremely versatile on court.

Well, it was simply a case of UWI closing out the night in three straight and after leading 8-3 and 16-9, they looked poised to do so, even though Carlton threatened to push a fourth set. After being down 11-18 they worked their way back into the contest to trail only 21-23, but UWI secured the next two points to seal the win.

In the second and final match of the night, the women of Club United coming off a thrilling 3-2 victory against Deacons on Sunday, came up against Toners in another battle that went right down to five sets. The exciting action between the two ebbed and flowed but in the end, Toners won 25-23, 12-25, 13-25, 25-19 and 16-14.

There were also two men’s game played at Oldbury, St Phillip last night and defending men’s champion Chargers defeated Foundation United 15-25, 25-14, 25-22 and 25-21 to get their title defence off to a good start. Meanwhile, Deacons trounced All Stars 28-26, 25-21 and 25-22.

Games continue tomorrow and one will feature defending women’s champion Pan American Life Insurance Warrens Sports Club against Chargers at the Bond while the men will play at Oldbury.

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