ST CROIX, US Virgin Islands (CMC) – The Bahamas upset favourites and defending champions Trinidad & Tobago in five sets to win the 14th senior men’s Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association Championship on Saturday night.
Both teams entered the final unbeaten but the Bahamas seized the moment to reel off a 25-20, 25-18, 22-25, 20-25, 15-13 victory and clinch their first-ever Caribbean title.
“Its been 22 years since we had waited for a win over Barbados in the CVC competition and now we have beaten T&T to win the title for the first time so credit to my players and we will continue to work to get to the next level,” the Bahamas coach Devince Smith said.
The Bahamians were led by Prince’tanique Wilson who slammed 28 points while Ronaldo Knowles got 19 and Byron Ferguson, 18.
For T&T, Marc-Anthony Honore tallied 23 points while captain Nolan Tash scored 18 and Ryan Stewart, 14.
The Bahamas threatened to run away with the match when they won the first two sets but T&T bounced back to win the next two and set up the decisive fifth and final set.
Wilson, who emerged as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and was also voted Best Spiker and Best Server, praised T&T’s comeback.
“They showed the heart of a champion by coming from two sets down to force a fifth set but in the end we are just grateful to have the win,” he said.
“It very similar to what happened in 2010 in our semi-final meeting in that they won the first two sets before coming back and then winning the fifth set.”
T&T, who breezed past Jamaica in the semi-finals in straight sets on Friday night, were understandably disappointed but Tash said the Bahamas deserved the title.
“They are worthy champions as much as the loss may bring disappointment to me and my teammates,” said Tash.
Meanwhile, perennial champions Barbados needed nearly two hours before they could dispose of archrivals Jamaica and win the third place playoff.
Barbados, who has won the tournament ten times but not since 2006, were marching towards victory with a 2-0 lead in sets when the Jamaicans roared back to level at 2-2 and leave the contest on a knife’s edge.
In the end, however, Barbados pulled on their massive experience to come away with a 25-16, 25-20, 23-25, 17-25, 18-16 victory in a marathon encounter.