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Vixens, Defenders strike first in NPVA finals

With their backs against the wall in the opening game of the series after dropping the first two sets, the 14-time defending champions in the women’s division of the New Providence Volleyball Association (NPVA), the Scottsdale Vixens, showed tremendous resiliency as they bounced back to win three straight sets to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-five series against the Lady Defenders on Wednesday night at the D.W. Davis Gymnasium.

In the men’s division, the Defenders did the same to the three-time defending champions the National Fence Intruders. The Defenders dropped the first two sets of game one but managed to come back and win the final three sets in that game. With that win, the Defenders took a 1-0 lead in their best-of-five championship series.

Vixens over the Lady Defenders

The Scottsdale Vixens got a game-high 24 points from Malinda Bastian and 12 points from Krystel Brown as they showed why they are the 14-time defending champions, coming back for a thrilling 12-25, 19-25, 25-15, 25-19 and 15-8 win over theLady Defenders.

For the Lady Defenders, Sari Albury led the way with10 points and Je’Nae Saunders chipped in with nine. Latavia Braynen added seven points off spikes and one point off a block.

The Lady Defenders won the first set convincingly, 25-12, taking advantage of the Vixens’ poor start offensively. In the second set, the Vixens looked much better but the Lady Defenders were still determined to put them away early. They won the second set 25-19 to take a two-sets-to-none lead in the game. They were poised to take a 1-0 lead going into the second match of the series.

Vixens Head Coach Mcklyn Rolle said: “In the first two sets, we forgot what the game plan was. The game plan was to play defense, play position ball, play smart ball and serve tough, and we weren’t doing that.”

The Vixens came out much more focused in the third set, looking to extend the match. The set was tied nine early on as both teams picked up their defensive intensity.

The Vixens went ahead 19-14, and then won six of the next seven points to convincingly take the third set.

Both teams continued to play great defense in the fourth set.

The Vixens led 10-8 before Albury had a huge block to close the gap to one. She finished with three successful blocks on the night. The Vixens then went on a 4-0 run before the Lady Defenders went on a 4-0 run of their own to trail by one again, 14-13.

Bastian was a force all evening for the Vixens. She drove a powerful kill down the Defenders’ defense to give them a 20-16 lead in the fourth set.A bad serve byVixens player Q’Jannis Wilson brought the Defenders to within three, 23-20.

At set point, Brown punctuated the set for her Vixens with a kill on two defenders. That gave them a 25-20 win in the fourth set and forced a pivotal, deciding fifth set.

By the fifth set, the momentum had swung in the Vixens’ favor. The Lady Defenders appeared mentally and physically exhausted.

After being up 9-7, the Vixens extended the lead to four and the Lady Defenders failed to respond. The Vixens finished off the set, 15-8, to win the match three sets to two and take the opening match of the best-of-five series.

Bastian, who finished with 16 successful spikes, said champions don’t die.

“We started off slow but once we came together and played Vixens ball we brought it together. Champions don’t die,”she exclaimed.

Bastian added that she will play a better match the next time around. Game two is set for Friday.

Lady Defenders Head Coach Jason Saunders said the young ladies understood what they did wrong.

“Personally speaking, I thought that we did not play anywhere near our capabilities even though we won the first two sets,” he said. “The first two sets were not indicative of how we are able to play and most definitely the last three sets didn’t show what we are capable of doing. I anticipate that these girls will go home, meditate on the things that they did wrong and come back strong. There are a lot of things that we did wrong.”

Saunders said that the Vixens are experienced and cannot be taken lightly. He hopes his ladies learned their lesson.

The Vixens’ coach Rolle said: “As you saw in the fifth set, my setter was cramping up. I told the ladies that they had to pass the ball so as to immobilize her so that she wouldn’t move so much. Once we played defense, we came out victorious.”

He hopes his team sticks to the game plan and comes out ready to play in the second game of the series.The ladies match will begin at 7.30 p.m. this evening.

Defenders over the Intruders

Kyle Wilson led the Defenders with 18 points and Jamaal Ferguson scored 15 points as they powered their team past the three-time defending champions the National Fence Intruders in the opening game of their best-of-five NPVA men’s championship series. The Defenders prevailed in five sets after dropping the first two sets, 19-25, 19-25, 25-19, 25-23 and 15-8.

Wilson had 14 points on spikes, and all 15 of Ferguson’s points came on spikes.

Dellan Brown led the way for the Intruders with 18 points and Prince Wilson added 13 in the loss. Brown scored nine of his 18 points from spikes, and had five off serves. Wilson had 12 of his 13 points off spikes.

Je’Vaughn Saunders finished with a game-high 54 successful sets for the Defenders and Gaege Smith had 45 successful sets for the Defenders.

After dropping the first two sets, the Defenders stormed back to win the third set, 25-19.

The fourth set was close as neither team gave any leeway to the other. In the end, the Defenders prevailed25-23to force a fifth and decisive set.

The fifth set was dominated by the Defenders. They walked away with a 15-8 set win and won the match three sets to two.

Both series will resume tonight at theD.W. Davis Gymnasium. The Vixens and the Defenders will try to take comfortable 2-0 leads in their respective series. The ladies match will begin at 7.30 p.m. and the men’s match is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m.

Sports Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism
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