30 October, 2016, 12:00 am
FIJI Blue went down fighting to the New Zealand 3-1 in the final of the Oceania Zonal Competition at Vodafone Arena in Suva yesterday.
The hosts started well in the match winning the first set 27-25 before going down to New Zealand 25-19, 25-21 and 25-22 in the remaining three sets.
Fiji Blue coach Viliame Katia praised the performance of his team.
“It was a game which I thought we could have won, but because of simple mistakes we lost,” he said.
“We would have turned the chances into points. Playing in the final was a big achievement for us in the competition.”
New Zealand exposed Fiji’s weaknesses every time they tried to strike into their territory by having three tall players stand in front to block Fiji’s attempts to score points.
When New Zealand coach Colin Redpath saw that the Fijian players were getting tired towards the end of the each quarter, he made good use of his bench which also contributed in their win.
“Despite height being a setback for us, the players gave their best. We are proud of their achievement,” Katia said.
“We thank every association from where they came to be part of the national team. We need to work more on the development of our players who are coming from a young age and we need to ensure these players are prepared to perform at the world stage.”
Redpath said “Fiji Blue really picked up well. We expected them to play well than Fiji White team,” he said.
“Fiji was a strong team and I think the future is bright for Fiji Volleyball.”
In the third and fourth playoff in the men’s category, Fiji White defeated Tonga 3-0.
In the women’s final, Fiji white defeated Fiji Blue 3-1 while in the third and fourth playoff, Solomon Island defeated Cook Islands 2-0.