Defending national champions Savanna-la-Mar Primary will enter today's culminating stage of the 2013 JaVA Under-13 Schools Volleyball Championship as heavy favourites to win the competition and retain their title.
Savanna-la-Mar Primary, who were runners-up at the parish-level competition in 2012 before strengthening thereafter to take the title, have made no mistakes this year - topping the 14-team competition with a classy and dominant display of skills.
Coach Tafarie Samuels told The Gleaner that he was very confident in his team's ability.
"We do not underestimate our opponents, but we are confident in each player's technical ability and we are confident that we can play as a team. If we do that on the day we will accept the final outcome," said Samuels.
Twenty-two schools from across seven parishes will converge on the JaVA volleyball facility at the National Stadium for the competition, which will start at 9 a.m.
Teams will first compete in four preliminary groups. The quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals will then follow. The top three teams will be presented with medals and trophies and there will be two individual awards for the MVP and President's Madd Skill winners.
Other schools advancing to the national finals are Lyssons, Golden Grove and Dalvey from St Thomas; Frienship, Naggo Head, Portsmouth and Greater Portmore from St Catherine; Inverness, Steer Town, Priory and Parry Town from St Ann; Corinaldi Ave, Irwin and Catherine Hall from St James; Lucea and Maryland from Hanover; Savana-la-Mar, Unity, Holly Hill and Loving Care from Westmoreland; and Nain and Geneva from St Elizabeth.
Major Warrenton Dixon, JaVA's school development manager, expressed satisfaction with how the competition has progressed.
"Each year, our children display a better grasp of the core volleyball skills. We have a high percentage of kids at this level exercising better ball control than can be seen in some of our high schools," said Dixon.
"If we are able to sustain this programme we will continue to reduce the introductory age at which our kids learn volleyball and it won't be long before the world has to recognise Jamaica in the sport.
"Indeed, it has started with the qualification of our boys' beach volleyball team to the Youth Olympic Games. There is a lot more to come," he added.