by Morissa Lindsay
The finals of the 10th Caribbean Junior Volleyball Championships are set and Barbados’ girls and boys teams will do battle in both after securing their places last night at the Wildey Gymnasium.
The excited crowd which came out to watch the semifinal contests was not disappointed when the local girls came from two sets down to defeat the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) 20-25, 22-25, 25-10, 25-23 and 15-12 in a nerve wrecking semi-final contest.
Barbados’ coach Patrick Oxley attributed the win to good fighting spirit from his girls.
Down five points in the fifth and decisive set with the USVI leading 9-4, the Barbadian gems composed themselves to lock the scores at 9-9, before going on to win to the delight of an estimated 300 supporters.
A game high 18 points from captain Ashley Jordan made it easy enough to assist the Bajan girls who last reached the finals back in 1999.
“I think finding the [right] line up in the third and fourth set is what brought it home for us. Assistant coach [Andrew Brathwaite] and I worked and worked and we [have] finally gotten in the final for Barbados,” Oxley said.
Looking ahead to tonight’s game, he said they would be mapping out a strategy to take on Haiti, who he described as a strong all-round side.
“They [Haiti] meet us and we know their strengths and their weaknesses. All congrats to Haiti for making the final. They are a strong unit all-round, we [Barbados] are also an all-round unit so it is just playing on the night, proper preparation, sticking to our game plans and hopefully bring it home for Barbados. We will be going all out to bring it home for Barbados,” an elated Oxley said.
Haiti advanced to the finals after trouncing Trinidad and Tobago 25-19, 25-27, 25-8, 25-18 in the other semifinal.
Following that performance from their female counterparts, the Bajan boys were just as successful with a convincing straight sets victory 25-23, 25-16, 25-21 against Haiti.
Barbados will now look be looking to defend their title.
Ahkeem Mayers fired away on the outside with a top score of 19 points and Haiti were unable to handle the defending champs, who are without a doubt the most all-round team in this competition.
Barbados are scheduled to face Trinidad and Tobago who earned a ticket into the finals for the first time in the history of the competition when they won 3-1 against Curacao.
Trinidad came into the matchup as the underdogs after Curacao just like Barbados booked an automatic spot into the semis, but the lads from the land of soca music walked away with their chests held high with a pleasing 25-20, 25-21, 25-22 victory over their opponents.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY, Trinidad and Tobago’s coach Gideon Dickson said securing a place in the finals for the first time says a lot for their development and he is looking forward to tonight’s final when they will be hoping to go one step further to dethrone the hosts.
“Let me state early [that] Barbados is the most balanced and experienced team in this tournament. They have won this competition two to three times before and we have tremendous respect for them, but we have a record of beating them in finals and I hope that prevails tomorrow once we play out of our boots,” Dickson said last night.
Today’s finals are scheduled for the Sir Garfield Gymnasium starting at 6p.m.