The Barbados youth volleyball team rolled back the years with exceptional performances to reach both finals against Suriname with the boys capturing gold and the girls silver overall in the recently concluded Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association [CAZOVA] Championship held in Jamaica.
Former senior Barbados captain and boys’ coach Elwyn Oxley was impressed and happy with the overall showing by the young volleyballers who arrived home last night at the Grantley Adams International Airport after 10 o’clock.
Barbados performance over the past week in Jamaica was a re-enactment of their 1999 performance when the boys won, and the girls came second. The boys led by captain Che Taylor and most valuable player Dmitri Holder earned gold when they defeated Suriname 3-1 in the final, and the girls claimed silver having lost 3-0 to the South Americans.
“It feels great to be back home as champions. I honestly knew that my guys would have won in judging the tournament and paying focus and attention to what is going on. Suriname is not as powerful as we are, but their techniques are very good. It is a strong defensive team, and that is what paid out for them in the third set that they won,” Oxley said.
Barbados’ boys fired their way to a comfortable 2-0 lead when Suriname responded and won the third set. According to Oxley that is when he saw signs of nervousness from the team and instructed his troops to take the fight to the opposition in the fourth period which they did and came out as the 2019 champions.
“They [Suriname] were very defensive, unlike the very first two sets that we won easily. I tried to keep the guys focused especially Dmitri Holder the MVP and Che Taylor, the captain. I find they were getting a bit tired, so I told them in the third set at six to fourteen that it is easier to play for nine points than to play the next set for twenty-five. But for some reason, those Suriname guys just would not let the ball touch the floor, and that is what paid out for them. So, the guys started to get a little worried, and I saw some droopy looking faces as if it was over. But I told them at the end of the day we are the ones that are up. We are not supposed to be looking this way, let we take the game to them and they did that in the fourth set, and we came out champions,” coach Oxley said.
That gold medal performance has earned Barbados a spot to compete at the 2020 North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA) to be held in either the United States of America or Canada.
Team Barbados raked in a good share of individual awards and for the boys, most outstanding player Dmitri Holder led the way by being named best server and top outside which was shared with his captain Che Taylor who was also named best receiver. Levi Padmore and Haile-Emanuel Turney tied for being best blockers while Devonte Coppin was the recipient for the best setter.
For the girls, Tenielle Chapman-Goodluck picked up three top individual awards for being best receiver, server and scorer while Dessani Waithe won best outside.
MVP Dmitri Holder said the top award came as a big surprise but felt grateful for being recognised.
“To be honest I wasn’t expecting MVP, I thought my captain Che Taylor deserved it because he is an outstanding player, but I am thankful for this award. I think I worked hard enough for it, but I know I could go further on my journey and become better, so look forward to me in the future,” said six-footer Holder.
The second vice-president of the Barbados Volleyball Association, Roxanne Forte, was at the airport to welcome home the team and expressed how wonderful it felt to see the youths excel. She explained that before the team left to compete, there were a few challenges, but yet they managed to do well.
“While on my way to the airport, I was saying that in 1999, not that I am ageing myself, I managed the junior girls to Jamaica. One of them Talya Layne, her daughter Arianna [Layne] was on this team, and the results were exactly the same. In 1999 the boys won, and the girls came second. So, for me it was kind of a deja vu moment,” Forte said, while stressing how proud the association was of both the boys and girls teams.