Captain Nolan Tash led from the front with 25 points as defending champions T&T booked the first semifinal spot at the 14th Senior Men’s Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) Championship after beating Jamaica in five sets on Wednesday night. T&T won 25-17, 20-25, 25-19, 17-25, 15-13 in one hour, 48 minutes to end with 11 points at the top of the four-team Pool A table at the Ronald “Ranchee” Charles Gymnasium, Central High School, Kingshill, St Croix, US Virgin Islands. Despite the loss, Jamaica which ended with a 1-2 record, the same as ten-time winners Barbados and Martinique still qualified for the quarterfinals as the third place finisher in the group. Barbados ended with seven points in second spot due to sets won while Jamaica (.993) had a better points won to points loss ratio than Martinique (.913) after both teams ended with six points.
In addition to Tash, who also had two blocks and three aces, European-based Marc-Anthony Honore added 13 (four blocks) and Simon Blake ten while Sean Morrison chipped in with nine for the winners who ended with a 3-0 record. Ryck Webb led Jamaica with 17 points, Conaradio Taylor got 11, captain Mark Lewis added ten and captain Dellan Brown, nine. Commenting after the loss, Brown firstly congratulated T&T on the win to top the group and advance to the semifinals automatically. After his team’s third victory in a row, Tash said credit must be given to the Jamaicans for making his team work. “They were led by a great leader and tonight all of his fighting qualities was seen throughout the team,” Tash added. In Wednesday’s opening match in Pool A, the veteran trio of Shawn Simpson, Fabian Cox and Daran Gill came up big as ten-time champions Barbados avoided elimination with a four-set win over Martinique.
Martinique had a 1-1 record and needed to win to advance to the quarterfinals while Barbados was 0-2, its worst start ever at the competition. In the end, the Barbadians, who held an 11-8 edge on blocks brought their “A” game and led by Simpson’s 17 points, Cox with 15 and Gill’s nine, came away with the all-important 26-28, 25-20, 25-19, 25-22 victory to end with a 1-2 record from its three matches, the same as Martinique. For Martinique, which needed T&T to beat Jamaica 3-0 or 3-1 to qualify for the last-eight, Yoann Breleur had a match-high 20 points, captain Rodolphe Maignan got 12, and Gregory Alpha and Christophe Vitella, chipped in with ten points each. In the lone Pool B contest, Bahamas joined T&T in the semifinal round as automatic qualifiers after beating host US Virgin Islands in four sets. Having won its first match over Guadeloupe, the Bahamians were keen to pick up another win, which they did 25-20, 20-25, 25-16, 25-15 behind another solid all-round display of good serving, setting and blocking.