Aruba broke the hearts of many volleyball supporters in the Cayman Islands.
The Dutch nation defeated Cayman in the third place playoff game 3-2 (25-21, 20-25, 25-11, 16-25, 13-15) in the 2014 North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation World Championship Men’s First Round Qualifier.
The victory allowed Aruba to finish third at 2-2 and advance to the next round of qualifying. Cayman had an abysmal 0-4 mark.
For Aruba head coach John Van Der Lee, the result is a stepping stone for more kudos.
“We came here with the purpose to go to the second round,” Van Der Lee said. “When we go to the second round, we must excel further. Cayman played us well and I feel they should go to the second round too.”
After the weekend’s matches at the new Clifton Hunter High School Sports Centre in Frank Sound, all the visiting teams would advance. Joining the Arubans would be event winners Suriname and runners-up Barbados, with both nations sporting 3-1 records.
Cayman, serving as hosts for the first time, had a rough go of it in North Side. The side lost all of its matches in the round robin stage to Suriname 3-0 (16-25, 23-25, 13-25), Aruba 3-2 (17-25, 25-17, 25-23, 18-25, 10-15) and finally Barbados 3-0 (17-25, 14-25, 20-25).
Cayman were underdogs from the start, coming into the tournament ranked 29th in the NORCECA standings. They shared that spot with Aruba. In comparison, Barbados were rated 12th in the region with Suriname ranking 14th.
For Cayman player/head coach Keith Higgins, the Aruba matches were tough results to accept.
“Cayman came in seeded fourth,” Higgins said. “But, as the tournament progressed, we realized we had a true shot to advance to the next round. The games against Aruba were all close. We didn’t win but that’s sport.”