Arsu and Beau Vallon make impressive debut in Seychelles' hosted regional volleyball tournament
Arsu, with the help of former professional player Marielle Bonne, won 3-0 against defending IOCC champions St Denis Olympic of Reunion.(Jude Morel, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Two of the Seychelles’ Volleyball teams Arsu on the women’s side and Beau Vallon on the men’s side made imposing starts in the Indian Ocean Club Championship (IOCC) on Monday, bursting past opponents from the neighbouring islands of Reunion and Mauritius respectively.
Spurred by the return from France of former professional player Marielle Bonne, Arsu won 3-0 (25-23, 25-19 and 25-16) against defending IOCC champions St Denis Olympic of Reunion, while Beau Vallon, the men’s champion, worked hard to overcome Curepipe Starlight of Mauritius, on a 3-1 (21-25, 25-18, 25-21 and 25-20) score.
The 21st edition of the regional volleyball competition got underway on Sunday at the Seychelles international sporting venue, the Palais des Sports, on the outskirt of the Seychelles capital of Victoria.
Coincidently the Seychelles hosted the basketball version of the regional competition a little over two weeks ago.
Arsu and Beau Vallon’s victories has raised the expectations of the local public, especially after the island nations’ basketball teams failed to win the IOCC trophy over a fortnight ago.
Once a household name at these competitions having won the trophy in 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2009, Arsu is looking to win a first IOCC title in five years and they could not have anticipated a better start to their quest than by upsetting the defending champions.
The Seychelles’ 2013 women’s league runner-up were slow off the block against St Denis on Monday, but once they figured a way past the very organised defence of their opponents, victory was pretty much inevitable.
Their standout player of the day Marielle Bonne had attracted a few criticsm recently upon returning home from a professional career in France, but she answered those critics admirably, giving a fine display of attacking volleyball to which St Denis had no reply.
Her powerful smashes originated from just about everywhere on the court, be it at the net or from the back court.
When she faltered, in stepped the left handed Angelique and team captain Jerina Bonne, performing some big plays of their own to keep Arsu in the lead at all times.
|Defending IOCC champion - Reunion island's Saint Denis.(Gilly Jean, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
One of the only drawbacks of an otherwise perfect display by the team from the southern part of the Seychelles main island of Mahé was during the few times their block seemed uncoordinated as they struggled to properly direct their defensive plays.
Otherwise the win was pleasingly convincing although team skipper Jerina Bonne said they are not letting themselves get carried away by the triumph.
“We’re taking the games one at a time as they come, with a view to win each of them, each time we step out onto the court,” Bonne told SNA after the match.
“We are taking things slow….and we’ll fight till the very end for every win”, she added.
The tune of Beau Vallon’s coach Adolph Nalletamby was very different from that of Arsu’s hard hitter.
He was concerned about his team’s performance despite the 3-1 win, noting that his players “took a critical situation - under which they played - and made it into something normal.”
“It was as if they enjoyed controlling the match at intervals, and then gifting their opponents the chance to get back into the match,” he lamented.
“The Beau Vallon I know would immediately go for the kill….But somehow in today’s (Monday) game we were unable to close the match as we would have liked, as we played good volleyball at one point and then bad at another.”
The coach however attributed his team’s hesitant start down to nerves, pointing out that it was their first match while the visitors were taking to the court for the second time in this competition.
“Seeing our opponent in action the day before must have convinced the players they were easy opponents. We most certainly did not expect them to pick up their game in the manner that they did, especially in the first set when they took it to us,” said Nalletamby.
“I only hope now that we have gotten rid of the pre-tournament jitters the players can go on to perform better in the games to follow.”
|Seychelles' Beau Vallon, IOCC defending Champion listening to the instructions of Coach Nalletamby during yesterday's match. (Gilly Jean, Seychelles News Agency )Photo License: CC-BY|
Beau Vallon’s outstanding performer in the game against Starlight was Ricky Vel unquestionably, as the big player tormented the Mauritian defence with big smashes from the back court and with a smashing service which they were unable to control.
Jude Lozaique also contributed strongly with his jump service, while Ian Furneau who was released from an international ban to play at the competition, had a modest game.
But the job was done for the Seychelles champions nonetheless, and they have accordingly announced themselves as determined to defend the IOCC title.
The other Seychelles women’s team battling in the 2014 IOCC is Cascade while the other men’s team is Premium Spikers.