Little did Zimbabwe’s Support Unit realise that they were up against not only a resilient Liberte but a vociferous crowd whose support is bound to be unnerving for the visitors.
As last year’s winners of the Zone V1 club championship, Support Unit were tipped to retain their unbeaten record in the round robin stage of this year’s event.
Support Unit demonstrated their superiority when a well co-ordinated block by skipper Chironga Kudzanai and Sixpence Cuthbert stopped Liberte’s power attacker, Mickesh Rampersad “dead” in his tracks as the ball sped to the floor at Rampersad’s feet.
Unfazed by their opponents’ robust play Liberte slowly built up a momentum with a block and attack strategy with hit man Yuvir Ramjit, clearly a star performer joined by Loueshan Gangaraj, skipper Hinesh Purbhoo,Truman Xulu and Mickesh Rampersad.
The unassuming Yuvir Ramjit was seen immediately as a problem by the Zimbabweans who made every effort to neutralise him but not with much success. While Ramjit quietly went about his business of posting points on the board Truman Xulu delighted the fans with sheer power. Rampersad an “on- court showman”,chipped in with a few power drives, and of special note was the combination attack that completely baffled the opposition blockers and pounded with venom on the court. The Zimbabwean attack force swung into action picking up points that kept them on the home side’s heels.
With setter Ardel Shaik Ally playing a pivotal role in Liberte’s offensive strategy the home side romped home with a 25-17 win.
Things became horribly wrong for Liberte as they slid into a chaotic state which saw them trail by a 3-7 margin. Support Unit’ setter’s creativity helped his attackers pile on the pressure. In response Ardel Shaik Ally turned to his middle attackers, Loueshan Gangaraj and Yuvir Ramjit who won point after point to level the scores at 9-9. Liberte’s downfall at times was poor service, a costly unforced error which is unacceptable at this level of competition. However praise must be given to Liberte’s libero, Eshalan Chettiar whose five star performance helped his team keep the ball alive in their court. With the scoreboard kept ticking evenly the set could have gone either way. At 18-19 Coach Jason Govender brought on veteran setter Kiresh Hiralal in place of skipper Hinesh Purbhoo. Setter Ardel Shaik Ally took up the role as an additional attacker. This change didn’t work out too well as at 23-24 in favour of the Zimbabweans, Hiralal misplaced set floated out of the reach of the intended middle attacker, handing Support Unit a 25-23 win.
Liberte skipper, Hinesh Purbhoo played a captain’s game picking up valuable points whenever Shaik Ally serviced him at position 2. Xulu, Gungaraj, Ramjit and Rampersad combined well to keep Liberte abreast on points. Whenever poor service reared its ugly head Liberte fell behind on points only to work doubly hard to retain their lead.
Liberte stormed to a 25-15 win to lead by 2 sets to 1.
The closely contested 4th set was fought on a knifes’ edge with the scores eventually tied at a heart stopping a 23-23. The Liberte fans were on the edges of their seats as their favourite team fought courageously to win the encounter. Eventually at 24-23 a solid one on one block by Yuvir Ramjit sealed the set for Liberte by a 25-23 score line.