THEY may not have won the Vanua Challenge but they certainly won the hearts of many at the two-day annual meet.
Naviti Hotel Cuvu showed true class and determination to record probably the biggest upset at the FMF Gymnasium yesterday.
The Sigatoka-based side defeated favourites 2Day FM Suva by 2-1 in the quarters but lost to Raiwai Gold by two straight sets in the semis.
Cuvu Volleyball Association treasurer Jella Botei hailed the team's performance and vowed they would return better next year.
He said senior players Uraia Waqatabu and Malakai Nawaqaliva were outstanding in guiding the young brigade in the tournament. "Obviously beating Suva was the major highlight for us and we are pleased with the performance of the players," Botei said.
Cuvu competed at the Vanua Challenge for the first time after forming a new association last year.
Botei said their weekly competition had helped improve the performance of the players and standard of volleyball in Cuvu.
"Our plan is to go back and work on our weaknesses and come back stronger next year," he said.
"The performance at the Vanua Challenge will be a big morale booster for the players and officials."
Tournament director Maika Kini hailed visiting teams including Cuvu for putting up the challenge against the dominant Central/Eastern teams.
"It's good to see the western teams really stepping up and putting on a great performance against the dominant teams in the tournament," he said.
"Even the losses were quite close which indicates the tough competition level we had during this tournament." The Easter Championship next month is the next event on the Fiji Volleyball Federation calendar
Results: Quarter-finals: Men's: Raiwai Gold 2 Nadi One 0, 2Day FM Suva 1 Naviti Hotel Cuvu 2, Gold FM Suva 2 Nadonumai 0, Kinoya Gold 2 Raiwaqa 1; Women's: Suva Black 2 Raiwai One 0, USP Green 2 Vatuwaqa 0, Kinoya One 2 Nadi One 1, FBC Suva Bluez 2 Security Forces One 0;
Semi-finals: Women's: Suva Black 2 USP Green 1, Kinoya 2 Suva Bluez 0; Men's: Raiwai Gold 2 Naviti Hotel Cuvu 0, Gold FM Suva 2 Kinoya 0;
Finals: Women's: Suva Black 3 Kinoya 0; Men's: Raiwai Gold 3 Gold FM Suva 1