ST JOHN’S, Antigua – A 10-member National Women’s Volleyball squad returned on Monday afternoon from Tortola where they finished second to Dominica in the Women’s World Volleyball Championship Qualifiers.
The team captured only one of their four matches, beating St Martin in straight sets, 3-0. However, due to the points system used in the tournament, the Antiguans were able to rack up a total of seven points to finish ahead of St Martin who had six and the BVI who had five.
Head coach Esron Gittens explained that for each game won by a 3-0 set margin, the winning team was awarded five points, while the losing team was not awarded any points.
He further explained that for losing 3-1, which Antigua did on two occasions, the losing team is awarded a single point while, if they lost 3-2, the team on the losing end would be awarded two points.
He said however that Antigua & Barbuda had some bad decisions play against their chances.
“We had some, what we considered, poor decisions close to the end that sort of cost us the game. But with that being said, we should have tried to get ahead before but it is just unfortunate that we lost to Dominica. They did play well, must give congrats to them, but we knew we were right there,” Gittens said.
“We have advanced to the next round which will be in 2013 and we have also qualified for the ECVA tournament which will be held here so imagine if we didn’t place first or second in this tournament, we would not have been participating in a tournament that we are hosting so the ladies knew what was required of them and they dug in and they really put a good performance out,” he added.
Gittens said however that despite the slow start, the team managed to rally and book a spot in the finals.
“We started out a bit timid. We lost our opening games to Dominica and BVI respectively both by a 3-1 set margin so they were a bit timid and maybe a bit nervous. We always had the upper hand in the games but just lacked the finishing touches,” Gittens said.
“We realised that a task was ahead of us to come out with a big victory to find ourselves into the finals which they did in a resounding manner by beating St Martin 3-0 and I am talking games where the team beat St Martin under 10 points and we realised that and came out and showed our true potential,” he added.
The men’s national player added that Antigua & Barbuda’s strong point was in their blocking ability which resulted with the best blocker accolade going to a national player.
“We had some good blocks. Playing Dominica, their strength was hitting through the middle and our middle blocker, although she was a rookie, in Ann-Marie Browne, she really did well; and the veteran middle blocker, Tessa Payne, she was hitting really hard. She was really blocking well and she actually ended with the best blocker accolade for the tournament,” Gittens said.
The team consisted of newcomers Ann-Marie Browne, Nadege Agustine and Naheemah Wilson. The first timers were joined by captain and veteran player Shauna Isaac, Tessa Payne, Teera Charles, Rosemarie Simon, Farida Isaac-Carr, Giselle Azar, and Venessa Burke.
Assistant coach Carl Williams also travelled with the team, while umpires Alister Benjamin and Henry Matthew officiated during the competition.