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Honore’s Benfica lifts Portuguese volleyball title

Friday, May 19, 2017
T&T's Marc-Anthony Honore

Injured T&T men’s volleyballer Marc-Anthony Honore watched from the sidelines as his team, SL Benfica, swept SC Espinho in straight sets to secure the Portuguese Volleyball Federation A-1 Division League title in a fifth and deciding contest on Saturday.

Playing at the Pavilhao da Luz, Lisbon, SL Benfica triumped 25-21, 25-17, 25-19 for a 3-2 best-of-five series victory.

With the title on the line, the match got off to a tense start and at the first technical time, the host led 8-7 and still led 16-15 at the second time out before they closed the set at 25-21.

The second set also began the same as the opener until the second technical time out, when Benfica through a strong service and a lethal use of SC Espinho’s errors eased to a 25-17 set win.

At the start of the third set, SC Espinho led 8-7 at the first time-out and then extended it to 16-13.

Backed by their vociferous home crowd, the Eagles as Benfica are known stormed to the front and never looked back enroute its seventh national title behind a 25-19 score.

A week earlier, SC Espinho extended the series to a fifth match when it recorded a come-from-behind 22-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-23 win over SL Benfica on its home court, but in the end it could not deny the Lisbon club a fourth A-1 Division title in five years.

The 32-year-old opposite-hitter Honore played no part in the title series after he picked up a back injury in March, which brought an early end to his season and may possibly need surgery.

When the finals began on April 22, SC Espinho won the opening match 25-17, 15-25, 27-29, 25-17, 19-17.

However,SL Benfica, then won 25-23, 25-22, 25-16 to even up the series against the 16-time A-1 Division champions and then 25-21, 25-23, 25-23 for a 2-1 lead in in efforts to add to recent title triumphs from 2012 to 2015

During the regular season, SL Benfica had an unblemished record of 22-0 for 66 points, nine more than SC Espinho which ended 19-3.

And in the best-of-five semi-finals, SL Benfica went under it the opener to last year’s champions, AJF Bastardo in five sets 19-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-19, 15-12, before storming back to win the next three matches 25-22, 25-18, 25-20 in Game Two; 21-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-20 in Game Three, and 25-23, 25-14, 25-20 to clinch the series while SC Espinho brushed aside Castelo Maia GC 3-0 in their best-of-five semi-finals.

SL Benfica is a 16-time Portuguese Cup winner and seven-time Super Cup winner as well