KINGSTON –– Jamaica won the 2015 Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Under-19 Championship, dethroning Barbados 25-22, 25-23, 25-16 to win the four-team tournament, their first in international volleyball at any level.
Jamaica will now represent CAZOVA in the NORCECA Under -19 tournament to be held sometime between year-end and next year.
Jamaica also exacted a measure of revenge on the defending champions, who had beaten them 3-1 on the first day of the tournament, last week Thursday.
In Sunday’s final, Jamaica overcame a six-point deficit in what was a keenly contested first set that got the home crowd –– consisting mainly of college students –– cheering wildly.
Barbados began the second set by racing to an 8-2 lead, before a time-out was called. On the resumption, Jamaica went on an eight-one run to lead 10-9. Ten to nine soon became 13-9 as the Jamaicans tried to race to a two-set to love lead. Barbados weren’t having it.
The defending champions came into the final on an unbeaten streak of four games and were not going to roll over and die. Spurred by their outside hitter, Brandon Callender, who had 18 spikes, and libero Akeel Oxley, Barbados rallied to take the lead 22-18, when Jamaica’s head coach, Steve Davis, called a time-out.
Following the break, Jamaica clawed their way back to eke out a close 25-23 win.
Facing the daunting task of winning three straight sets against an opponent growing in confidence as the game went on, Barbados battled bravely, but the influence of tournament MVP Jovan Thomas, Jamaica’s captain, whose nine left-handed spikes were virtually unstoppable; and six from Shavar James, enabled Jamaica to secure a comfortable 25-16 win to snatch the title.
“I am extremely satisfied,” said an elated Davis, following the historic win. “Like I had been saying at the beginning, the guys are young but they are hard working. They never complained; and every training session, they got better, and every game, they got better.
“We took a set from Barbados in the first match, and that set was 25-14, so we knew we had what it takes to beat them,” he noted.
John Stuart, Barbados’ head coach, said unforced errors proved to be their downfall.
“It was unforced errors and too many bad serves,” he said. “In all fairness, Jamaica played better than Barbados and deserved to win.”