Greaves Transport & services Progressive scored a stunning win over defending champions, RBTT Deacons to take game one of the Cooperators General Insurance knockout finals at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex on Sunday night.
A pumped up Progressive sized the advantage from early to give their fans hopes of an upset straight sets win. Those same fans audibly sighed, “The same old, same old!” as Deacons then took sets three and four to hint of another Deacons’ fight-back as has occurred so many times when these two teams meet. However, Progressive took the match, 28-26, 25-16, 14-25, 18-25, 15-9.
Set one established the tone for the entire match as it contained high levels of attack and defence, mistimed hits that slammed into the back walls as well as the traditional internal bickering by Progressive although they matched and led Deacons in the early stages. Big man Andy Jordan once again looked under par while Elwyn Oxley and Jamaal Nedd demonstrated irrepressible form for Deacons.
Significantly, Progressive’s middles captain, Rene Archer and Jason Griffith attacked and blocked superbly. The spiking of a revived Renier Grace, Shawn Grace and Fabian Cox did not disappoint steady setting from Jamal Branch.
A close first set was blown open with successive block on Renier for Deacons to advance, 21-19. However, two later attacking errors by Oxley allowed Progressive to avert set point to draw first blood, 28-26. Deacons never stood a chance in set two with Progressive holding eight points leads at times.
Stung by the impending ignominy of losing in straight sets, Nedd and Oxley as set up by George Skeete who was drafted in from the second set, fought valiantly to even the contest with Deacons fans indicating that the game was following their script.
The deciding set saw Progressive holding the edge, 8-6 when the teams switched courts. Oxley spiked long to push Progressive, to, 9-6, and further before Branch erred by serving into the net at, 11-6. Progressive regained the serve, 12-7, before the experienced Renier Grace committed the shocking error of stepping on the back line while serving.
With Deacons edging back, 9-12, Progressive called a time-out. That tactic proved sound as Kenwin Inniss served into the net, 9-13. When Griffith’s mistimed shot then landed in Deacons’ court to bring up game and match point, 14-9, he pumped his fist as if he had just won an Olympic medal.
Griffith had even more reasons to celebrate as he then teamed with Cox to brutally stuffed Oxley for Progressive to be one game away from taking their ninth knockout out title. Deacons who have taken the crown for the past five years have been champions on 14 occasions. Progressive last won the knockout in 1993.
British American Insurance Chargers claimed the third spot with a, 21-25, 25-15, 25-22, 27-25, win over Christ Church Foundation. Game two of the knockout finals will be staged on Monday, September 22, with a Game Three, if needed being played on the 24th.