ST CROIX, US Virgin Islands – Jamaica stunned former perennial champions Barbados in a compelling five-set contest, to launch their campaign at the 14th Senior Men’s Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association Championship on Monday night.
Playing at the Ronald Charles Gymnasium of Central High School, Jamaica dropped the first set but bounced back to post a 22-25, 25-18, 24-26, 25-23, 16-14 victory in just under two hours.
Also in Group A, Trinidad and Tobago made a winning start to their title defence when they beat Martinique 25-16, 20-25, 25-15, 25-21.
In Group B, Guadeloupe dropped a set before recovering to brush aside hosts United States Virgin Islands, 25-17, 25-21, 17-25, 25-21.
It was Jamaica, however, who made the headlines as they entered the contest as underdogs against multiple time winners Barbados.
Despite being short-staffed with only eight players on their roster, Jamaica came back gallantly from losing the first set to deny their long-time rivals.
They were led by Mark Lewis who had a match-high 21 points, which included 19 kills while Ryck Webb added 19 points.
Dennis Nelson chipped in with 15 points, with Conaradio Taylor gathering ten.
Shawn Simpson led Barbados with 20 points while experienced attacker Fabian Cox got 16 and rookie Akeem Payne, 11.
Jamaica captain Dellan Brown said though Barbados was a difficult side to play, his side had backed themselves.
“First of all we have a great deal of respect for Barbados as it had been a long time we had not beaten them in a competitive match as the guys were discussing in the dressing room before the match,” Brown noted.
“Our contingent is a small one but we have to make full use of what we have and we went out on the court and played how we know best.
“There were a few times in the match we were a bit indiscipline with our play but as the match progressed we grew in confidence and in the end we did what we had to do to win the match.”
He added: “We got the win in our first match but we are not that satisfied with our serving and reception so there is room for improvement and we will work hard to correct them in the next match.”
Brown’s opposite number, Jamaal Nedd, blamed his side’s inconsistency for the defeat.
“We just did not play a good match tonight as we lacked the consistency while some crucial calls went against us at critical points in the match as well,” he lamented. (CMC)