Volleyball thrills at National League Finals

Brittany Balcewich of the Lady Knights goes for a kill while Cindy Joe covers behind her.
Keeble Knight of the Mainstay Sailing Men’s Team shows the form that earned him MVP.

The Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation held its National League Volleyball Finals last weekend at the First Baptist Church Hall, where the fans in attendance were treated to three hotly contested matches.

This year’s National League saw a record six men’s teams, six women’s teams and eight co-ed teams participating. The finals night represented the best of the best and demonstrated that indoor volleyball is thriving in the Cayman Islands.

Game 1

For the co-ed finals, top-ranked Mainstay Sailing took on the Noobs in the early match. This game featured high-flying action on both sides of the net with all the drama of lead changes and timely game-changing plays.

For Mainstay, it was Keeble Knight leading the way with thunderous kills and serves while Craig Henry registered numerous kills and timely blocks for the Noobs. Mainstay won the first set 25-22 in a game that was closer than the score indicated. The second set was even tighter as both teams battled to the very end, with Mainstay pulling off the win 26-24 to be crowned Co-Ed Champions.

Game 2

The second game saw Seven Mile Beach Dental Clinic playing the Clyde Built Construction Lady Knights. SMBDC was led by Russell Angela Jalbuna and Chante Smith Johnson who had 5 and 4 kills respectively to help secure the first set win 25-19.

In the second set, Mireia Alvarez Griera found her rhythm and put away 7 kills for the Lady Knights as they secured the second set 25-22 to tie the game 1-1.

In the third and final set, defending champions the Lady Knights jumped to an 8-1 lead and never looked back on their way to a 15-8 scorline to defend their title and retain the Women’s Championship trophy.

Brittany Balcewich of the Lady Knights goes for a kill while Cindy Joe covers behind her.

Despite high-powered offenses, the win was a result of strong defensive play by Lady Knights youngsters Maryn McCombs and Alyssa Phipps along with solid passing and defense from Cindy Joe.

Game 3

In the nightcap game, Burger King Knights took on the Mainstay Sailing men’s team.

In the first set, Keeble Knight of Mainstay secured the win, scoring 4 kills and 2 aces for a 25-19 scoreline. Olney Thompson and Richard Campbell of the Knights put away 3 kills each in a losing effort.

The Knights came storming back in the second set behind 7 kills scored by Thompson for a lopsided and relatively easy 25-15 win.

Olney Thompson of the Burger King Knights attempts a kill while covered by Javid Ali.

The deciding set was a back-and-forth battle as the two high-flying hitters both elevated their games with Thompson registering 4 kills for the Knights and Knight 6 kills for Mainstay. While the score was close, Mainstay pulled away late to win the final set 15-12, securing the Men’s Championship.

For Mainstay, all roads led through MVP Keeble Knight as the team worked hard to defend and set up hitting opportunities for him both in the front court and back court, for a total of 14 kills in addition to his 2 aces and thunderous jump serves that kept the Knights team off balance and unable to launch their strongest attack. Veteran player Olney Thompson registered 14 kills for the Knights thanks to some excellent sets from Vince Gregotski.

While both teams played well, too many unforced errors by the Knights combined with the overwhelming serving and offensive firepower of Knight ruled the day.

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