The Nigeria Under-21 Men’s Volleyball Team on Friday defeated Libya 3-2 in the quarter-finals to qualify for the semi-finals of the 2022 African U-21 Men’s Volleyball Championship in Tunis, Tunisia.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Nigerian team laboured to beat Libya 3-2 (25-20, 18-25, 25-20, 22-25, 15-8) to book a place in the semis.
The Nigerian side struck early, taking the first set by 25-20 points, with the Libyans sending a clear signal to Nigeria winning 25-18 points in the second set.
Nigeria’s middle blockers were kept busy throughout the third set and it paid off as Nigeria won 25-20 in the third set.
Nigeria led in the early stage of the fourth set but Libya overtook the West African giants and won 25-22 points.
It was a family affair in the fifth set before Nigeria took charge and won by 15-8.
The win against the stubborn north Africans saw Nigeria zoom into the semi-finals of the competition.
Nigeria had recorded two wins earlier in the group stage match, when they defeated Morocco 3-0 in their first match and also beat Gambia 3-0 in their second match .
They, however, lost their third match against hosts Tunisia 0-3 .
The assistant coach of Nigeria’s team, Suleiman Ajeigbe, said the boys were not tensed despite playing a five-set thriller in their quarter-final match.
Ajeigbe said the team had worked extremely hard, adding that the boys were on top of their game.
He said: “I’m happy, it was not an easy task but the boys were prepared and we ensured that they were on top of their game.
“The Libyans threw their weight at us but the boys gave their best; the morale is high ahead of our semifinal clash.
“There was no tension in the air when Libya levelled up in the fourth set.
“I told them to give their best because there must be a winner in the game.
“My head coach, Sani Mohammed, in the fifth set, strategised and had some pep talk with the boys.
“The last set came our way.”
Ajeigbe said the team wanted to return to the country with the trophy.
He said: “They have the necessary support from members of the Nigeria Volleyball Federation.
“The Nigeria Volleyball Federation gave the team the necessary support before attending the Nations Championship.
“The Libyans did not come to make the numbers here.
“I am certain that was why they wanted to upset us.
“By God’s grace, we want to return to Nigeria with the trophy.”
NAN reports that Nigeria is grouped alongside Morocco, Gambia and host Tunisia.
Eight countries: Morocco, Nigeria, Gambia, Egypt, Cameroon, Rwanda, Libya and host Tunisia, are participating in the Championships.
The U-21 African Volleyball championship, which started on August 13, will end on August 23 in Tunis, Tunisia.