Volleyball: National Championship-Cascade end Arsu’s 28-game invincibility


23-June-2009

Cascade’s Nathalie Agnes beats the two-player Arsu block to end Arsu’s 28-game invincibilityWhile Premium Spikers remain unbeaten in five league games, Arsu have lost their 28-game invincibility and it was their eternal rivals Cascade who brought them back to earth.

Cascade players shared congratulatory, emotional embraces and high-fived everyone at the end of their clash with Arsu, who had dominated the championship for most of the past decade with eight consecutive league championship wins since 2001 and were favoured to win the first-round encounter.

Skippered by Nathalie Agnes, Cascade weathered the early storm, after Arsu had taken a one-set lead, to sweat it out for a five-set victory – 3-2 (16-25, 25-19, 24-26, 25-21, 15-13) – in a match that lasted 107 minutes.

It was a hell of a match as the two teams traded sets, and in the end Cascade used a few lightning bolts to put an end to a six-game win-drought against Arsu, dating back to their Curtain-raiser quarterfinal victory in February 2008.

That was also the last time 14-time league champions and six-time Indian Ocean Club Championship (IOCC) winners Arsu had lost in all competitions.

Almost lost for words after the win, skipper Agnes, whose powerful jump services caused Arsu all kinds of problems, said: “It feels so good to get a win over Arsu.”

If Cascade, whose mettle was tested by SMB on the way to a marathon 3-2 (28-26, 25-21, 14-25, 22-25, 15-10) in their previous match, continue in the same winning vein to win the championship, it will be their third title, with the first two coming in 1999 and 2000.

“We are unbeaten in five games and it’s good. But we should start preparing early for the second half of the championship if we are to keep alive our winning chances,” added Agnes.

In another women’s top-flight match, SMB, whose coach Steve Zialor was in the stands and was replaced by Mauritian Kersley Rajabaly on the bench, needed 49 minutes to garner their third win on a 3-0 (25-9, 25-4, 25-14) score against newcomers Roots Sisters.

Rajabaly was the team’s head coach last year after Derrick Andrew left to start a second stint with Cascade.

Premium Spikers bag three-set victory

Men’s champions Premium Spikers bagged their fifth league win with a three-set victory Skipper Lepathy (No. 6) and company are unbeaten in the leagueagainst former champs Beau Vallon, who broke their hearts in last year’s IOCC final for a fifth title win.

Just like setter Jones Mangroo had predicted, Premium Spikers dictated the pace of the game to lead all along except for once in the third set when they trailed by one point – 23-24.

Playing some delicate passing and quick smashing, they turned the encounter between the two most experienced local sides into an artistic 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 26-24) 68-minute victory to bring their points tally to a maximum 15 to sit at the top of the six-team standings.

Having already claimed two pieces of silverware – the Curtain-raiser title and the Seychelles Volleyball Federation Shield – coach Bernard Denis’ Premium Spikers stay on course for a clean sweep this season.

Speaking to Sports Nation, skipper Jean-Paul Lepathy said: “We have to stay focused to get a second-round victory against Racing Club and then we’ll see what happens when we meet Beau Vallon.”

St Louis defeated Roots 3-1 (25-21, 25-22, 22-25, 25-20) in another men’s division one match and in a bottom division clash, Anse Royale beat Cadets 3-1 (25-15, 23-25, 25-16, 25-8).

G. G.

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