Nigeria defeated host team Ivory Coast 3-0 in the final game of the FIVB women World Cup qualifying tournament in Abidjan on Sunday.
The Falcons volleyball team were top favourites ahead of the meeting due to their pedigree in the sub-region and their brilliant win over Ghana 3-0 on Saturday.
However, Ivory Coast, who lost to Ghana in their opener on Friday, and considered by pundits as the weakest team, put up a worthwhile fight against Nigeria in the first set, with the Falcons trailing behind at some point in time.
Nigeria’s outing was below expectations, struggling throughout the first set, which was characterized by poor services and lackluster blocks.
At the end, they snatched a narrow win in a breathless set that ended 26-24 for Nigeria.
Their impressive run in the first set boost the confidence of the Ivorian team, who returned in the second set hoping to stop the visitors (who were designated as local team today) from running away with the session.
Nigeria, who appeared to have received stern instructions from coach Usman Habid Abdallah, quickly made corrections to their poor services and positioning, which improved their game against Ivory Coast.
The Falcons sustained a huge gap throughout the second set and made few errors unlike the opposing team, who were beginning to lose steam as the game progressed.
The second set was won by Nigeria 25-12.
Opening the third set, the Ivorian team had no other choice but to go for the wild because another loss would mean their elimination from the qualifiers.
They went underway with strong services that the Nigerian girls happened to contained. It was the most interesting stanza though, as a rally could go back and forth for about two to three minutes with no side hitting a point.
Nigeria led much of the set, but it remained close throughout, finishing 25-20 in favour of the Falcons.
Ivory Coast, after losing two games have been eliminated while Nigeria, with two wins, progress to the next round, alongside Ghana, who finished second following their sole win against Ivory Coast.
Pictures from the game: