National Volleyball Squad Advance

St Lucia’s national volleyball team celebrate following their victory over Antigua & Barbuda at YMCA Sports Complex on Sunday night. (Photo by Thaddeus Price)

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Members of the national women’s volleyball team are not weltering in their 3-1 sets loss to St Lucia in the finals of the Eastern Caribbean Volleyball Association (ECVA) Super 8 championships held here over the weekend.

This is according to Head Coach Esron Gittens who said that both the players and management are celebrating the “achievements” of the Antigua & Barbuda team during the four-day tournament held within the indoor volleyball facility at YMCA Sports Complex.

“Right after the game was completed, we spoke to the ladies and let them know how proud we are of them; how proud we are of the game they brought; the level they stepped up to, and the achievements they would have made,” Gittens said.

“We would have preferred to have won this championships; however, they have really come a long way and have done us proud, themselves proud and the country proud.”

The coach added: “Our weakness sometimes was our serve. I think we gave away too many bad serves. We didn’t force them to play as much as possible and that’s something we are going to be working on quite a bit going forward.”

Antigua & Barbuda got off to a strong start when they captured the first set 25-18 over the St Lucians. But the visitors rebounded strongly, winning three straight sets, 25-16, 25-21 and 25-16, to lift the Super 8 trophy.

According to Gittens, however, Antigua & Barbuda can take solace in the fact that they have qualified for the second round of the Caribbean Championships slated for next year.

“We have qualified for the Caribbean Championships and that just shows how much they are going to be advancing going forward. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t have some more players that we would have liked to have had in the team but the 11 ladies that were selected really put on a good performance,” he said.

“There are some things we are planning to work on going forward and trying to improve on some weak areas, but it’s all positives we have taking out of the tournament.”

Antigua & Barbuda reached the finals of the event after beating Dominica three sets to one. Dominica emerged as bronze medallists following a 3-1 victory over St Kitts in Sunday’s opening match.

President of Antigua & Barbuda Volleyball Association, Wilbur Harrigan, expressed disappointment in the public’s support, or lack of it, throughout the tournament.

“I would have loved to see the place ram-packed every night and it was not. We had good crowds but not enough so that I could say that the sport is growing in Antigua & Barbuda,” he said.

“One out of four (sold out crowd) is only 25 per cent. I would have liked to have seen that, and sorry if I sound greedy, but the ambience was great, the competition was fantastic and with players, we brought in over 100 people here in Antigua and it would have been fantastic if we had demonstrated to these people that volleyball is alive and well in Antigua & Barbuda.”

Harrigan, however, pointed to a lack of adequate funds for the tournament’s promotion as one of the main issues ahead of the competition. He thanked those businesses that contributed to the success of the tournament.