Colina steers host Curacao home in five sets


WILLAMSTAD, CURACAO, December 30: Darwin Colina notched a tournament-high 30 points to lead four players in double-digit scoring as host Curacao withstood a strong fight back from Martinique for a thrilling five set win in their curtain raiser on the opening morning of the NORCECA Group A 2014 FIVB Men’s World Championship qualifiers at the International School of Curacao on Saturday.


Included in Colina’s tally was 24 spikes and two service aces, while captain Ebram Raphael got 15, Raygid Isenia 14 and veteran Gilbert Poulina, 12 as the Dutch-speaking islands survived an intense examination to come away with a 25-18, 25-20, 23-25, 20-25, 15-13 victory in two hours, 24 minutes.


Despite the encounter going five sets, Curacao which missed the CAZOVA tournament due to financial difficulties and was playing in first international tournament for a while outscored its opponent on spikes, 59-54, and blocks, 16-11 while the visitors had a slim 7-6 advantage on service aces.


For Martinique, seventh at the CAZOVA Championship, and fielding no fewer than six new players from that tournament, captain  David Lefaivre had the hot hand with 17 points, while Gregory Alpha got 16, Aymeric Christine 15 and Bruno Eniona, ten.


Speaking after the match, a visibly unhappy Lefaivre said his team had a great chance to win the match after a slow start but made too many errors in the end.


“We started off slowly and fell behind and then we got back into the match by winning the next two sets, but then in the final set we made too many mistakes," added Lefaivre.


Raphael, meanwhile said he could not have asked for a bigger effort from his players in their opening match.


“We knew it was going to be a tough match against Martinique and we started well but then lost our concentration. Luckily for us we regained focus in the fifth set and got the win."


Erialc Eddy, Martinique’s coach echoed the views of his captain saying his team made too many unforced errors while also taking too much time to settle.


“We did not started as we would have liked too and this caused us to take a lot of time to find our cohesion. We managed to get some consistency in the third and fourth sets, but in the end it was not enough.


Hubert Petronia, coach of the host Curacao while happy with the win said his team needed to improve as well.


“For us to get the win in our first match was good but after the first two sets, our game fell down before we managed to get back some cohesion in the fourth set.


“This set us up nicely for the fifth and deciding set and we now have to continue to improve in all our other matches if we are to achieve our goal.


“We started off with a lot of energy and then it went, but we need to be consistent throughout the match," said Petronia.


 In Saturday’s second session, Bahamas faces host Curacao from 8pm while Jamaica and Martinique meet from 6pm.


On Sunday in the morning session, the final round of preliminary matches, Bahamas plays Martinique from 9am followed by Jamaica and Curacao ahead of the third place match and gold medal contest in the afternoon.


At the end of the tournament, the top three teams will advance to the second round of qualifiers which begin next year.