Lyssons top Westmoreland's Unity in national primary schools final
Lyssons Primary are the 2014 National Primary Schools volleyball champions. The St Thomas-based school on Saturday successfully defended their title at the Jamaica Volleyball Association (JaVA) Phillip Greenland Developmental Volleyball Championship as they overcame Westmoreland's Unity Primary 39-17 in the final at Wolmer's High School for Girls.
In doing so they became the first school to defend the title in the five-year-old competition.
Lyssons, the St Thomas champions went undefeated all season, while winning their parish title for the fifth straight year and were the favourites to win the national title. They duly obliged, winning all their Group A matches before battling Clan Carthy 16-15 in the quarter-finals. They advanced to Saturday's final by defeating Chantilly Primary 34-24.
Unity, the champions of Westmoreland, advanced to the knockout round after finishing second in Group A. There, they defeated their parish runner-up Little London 17-11. In the semis, they showed grit in overcoming two-time St Ann champions Inverness 27-25.
Inverness would take third-place by virtue of a 19-13 victory over Chantilly.
Radjae Reid of Lyssons was adjudged the Championship MVP, while Javin Williams of Unity won the President's Madd Skills Award.
Former JaVA president, Major Warrenton Dixon, said the standard of play was higher than in previous years. More than 100 schools had signaled their intention to participate this year. Eighty actually competed.
"This year I saw teams fail to advance to their parish-level knockout round although they were playing higher quality volleyball than some teams that qualified to the knockout round of the national finals in previous years," said Dixon, now JaVA's school development manager.
Quality of players
"At all stages this year, I can unequivocally state that the quality of play is the highest I have seen in any prior year. I chalk this improvement down to our encouragement to the schools to include grades 3-6 students in their programme to allow for continuity; the experience gained by the coaches over the years; and JaVA's continued effort, with the support of NORCECA Volleyball Confederation, to provide the coaches with technical guidance from local and international coaches."
Dixon, however, lamented that the absence of funding support is threatening the viability of the programme, which is geared at systematically making Jamaica a world-beater in volleyball by 2017.
Thirty-two of the 80 schools, from 11 parishes, qualified to the national finals, which was originally scheduled for Friday at the National Stadium. However, only 28 teams participated in the finals as four were forced to withdraw because of a sudden change in venue, caused by costs to use the facility at the National Stadium.