T&T beat Jamaica to sweep titles
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):
Trinidad and Tobago crowned themselves Caribbean champions when their men's and women's teams scored emphatic victories in the respective finals of the 15th Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) Championship on Sunday night.
Playing at the Jean Pierre Complex, T&T men came from behind to brush aside Barbados 22-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-19, while their women wasted little time in crushing Jamaica in straight sets, 25-12, 25-13, 25-12.
For T&T's men, the title was their second in four years following their maiden success in the 2010 championship. The victory also made up for their heartbreak in 2012 in St Croix when they entered the final against the Bahamas as heavy favourites, only to lose.
Captain Nolan Tash said the victory was made all the more special because it was his last Caribbean Championship.
"Firstly, coming into the tournament we were under a lot of pressure to do well and I don't think we were looked at as favourites," he said.
"However, we knew the strength of our team and wanted to take the title on home soil for the first time because with this victory it opens up doors for our team to compete at the higher NORCECA level."
For 10-time champions Barbados, Shawn Simpson had 12 kills, while Jabari Goodridge weighed in with 11. The 12-time finalists lost inspirational captain and setter Alain London to an ankle injury in the third set and never recovered from that blow.
Coach Ludger Niles said the injury proved a major turning point, but also lamented his team's lack of consistency.
"We had an unfortunate injury to Alain, who is a very key player for us in terms of setting, leadership and inspiration," Niles said.
"Overall, our guys were not consistent enough with our serves and blocking."
T&T's women, meanwhile, equalled Barbados' record haul of six titles with their triumph, as they beat Jamaica in just 72 minutes.
Darlene Ramdin, who plays in France, scored 15 points to lead the hosts, while fellow France-based player Channon Thompson supported well with 12 points.
Jamaica captain Simone Asque mustered six points.
"During the tournament, I don't think we played our best volleyball and tonight the girls really stepped it up a bit by saving their best for last," said T&T captain Kelly-Ann Billingy.
T&T's women have dominated CAZOVA, winning the last five titles.