Jones ‘one for the future’
THE FORM of Jamaican Aiko Jones on the United States collegiate volleyball circuit has not gone unnoticed at home.
Jones is a lynchpin on a University of Louisville team that is riding high in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) competition, and Jamaica Volleyball Association (JaVA) president, Jacqueline Cowan, is mightily impressed. More than that, Cowan is looking forward to seeing the 21-year-old play for Jamaica again.
Speaking days before Jones and her Louisville teammates put a 26-0 record on the line against a prime rival, Cowan said JaVA has been watching the youngster’s progress with great joy.
“Yes we are. She’s one for the future,” she underscored.
Jones is part of a high-scoring battalion at Louisville. The former Wolmer’s Girls standout has smashed 195 kills from her right-sided attacking position, with colleagues Anna de Beer on 243, Anna Stevenson, 241, Claire Chaussee, 213 and Amaya Tillman, 172, all hitting the jackpot often.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out regional competition and has made it impossible for Jones to play for Jamaica since 2017, when she represented the national team at the 2017 Caribbean Senior Championships in Kingston.
“It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to play an under-23 championship. We’re not able to do our Senior Championships so she has not been able to go any further in the national stage. But we’re hoping come next year, we’re hoping that we’ll be able to do our Senior Championships next year,” said Cowan, who is on the executive of the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association.
“We’re not sure if we will,” she cautioned. “But she definitely, definitely will be our star player on that team.”
For the time being, all eyes will be on Louisville’s match away at the University of Pittsburgh today, and it could be more difficult than their last game, a straight set cruise past Duke University on November 19. When Louisville hosted Pittsburgh on October 24, it was a 3-2, thriller with Jones and her teammates edging home 19-25, 25-20, 27-25, 22-25,15-13.
Arizona State University and the University of Kentucky are the only other teams to go the distance with Louisville during this campaign.
Last season, Louisville won the Atlantic Coast Conference and reached the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA division one tournament.
According to Jones, who captained Wolmer’s to three high school volleyball titles, her team is trying to match or exceed those performances.
“Our goal is to win the conference again and to make it as far as we made it last year,” Jones said in a recent interview. “We made it to the Sweet Sixteen, or further.”