Bahamian captain Prince’tanique Wilson was named “Most Valuable Player” as Bahamas withstood a fightback from T&T to be crowned new men’s champions in five entertaining sets, when the 14th Senior Men’s Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) Championship concluded. This was at the Ronald Charles Gymnasium, Central High School, Kingshill, St Croix, US Virgin Islands on Saturday night. Wilson who was also voted “Best Spiker” and “Best Server,” tallied 28 points while Ronaldo Knowles got 19 and Byron Ferguson in their team’s 25-20, 25-18, 22-25, 20-25, 15-13 triumph which gave them their first ever senior men’s Caribbean title. For T&T, Marc-Anthony Honore led with 23 points, captain Nolan Tash had 18 and Ryan Stewart 14. A sombre-looking Tash congratulated Bahamas on their achievement, describing them as worthy champions. “We have toiled to reach the NORCECA level over the years and now Bahamas will have that chance to represent us and I am sure they will do themselves proud.”
Tash blamed his team’s failure to pass the ball as a major flaw on the night. “As a team we now have to go back to the drawing board and correct our faults and come back stronger as a unit.” An elated Wilson said his team had the utmost respect for T&T but had a plan to jump on them early in the match which worked. “They showed the heart of a champion by coming from two sets down to force a fifth set but in the end we are just grateful to have the win. It was similar to what happened in 2010 in our semifinal meeting. They won the first two sets, lost the next two before coming back and winning the fifth.” Gideon Dickson, T&T’s coach also praised Bahamas, saying their efforts throughout the tournament were great. “We wanted to defend our title but we fell one match short and as a team we have a few lessons to learn. Credit to my players because we played with heart of champions to come from 0-2 down and extend the match to five sets.”
Earlier on in the bronze medal match, Shawn Simpson had a team-high 20 points in leading Barbados past Jamaica also in a tense five-set battle.
In addition to Simpson, Fabian Cox tallied 16, Akeem Payne 11 and Daran Gill, eight for the Barbadians who held a 10-6 edge on service aces enroute to a 25-16, 25-20, 23-25, 17-25, 18-16 triumph in four minutes under two hours which avenged a round-robin loss, also in five sets. For the Jamaicans, who dominated their opponents 16-11 on blocks, Mark Lewis led all scorers with 21 points, Ryck Webb had 19, Dennis Nelson 15, Conaradio ten and captain Dellan Brown, nine. Martinque took fifth spot beating fellow French-speaking Island, Guadeloupe, 25-21, 25-20, 24-26, 25-20 led by Yoann Breleur’s 16 points. Michel Larcher got 14, Gregory Alpha added 13 and captain Rodolphe Maignan ten for the winners while Mickael Marcelle had 14 and Ludovic ten for Guadeloupe. T&T copped three individual awards through Saleem Ali (Best Setter) and Ryan Mahadeo who took the Best Libero and Best Digger prizes.
Best Scorer: Shawn Simpson (Barbados)
Best Blocker: Byron Ferguson (Bahamas)
Best Setter: Saleem Ali (T&T)
Best Receiver: Yoann Breleur (Martinique)
Best Libero: Ryan Mahadeo (T&T)
Best Spiker: Prince'tanique Wilson (Bahamas)
Best Server: Prince'tanique Wilson (Bahamas)
Best Digger: Ryan Mahadeo (T&T)
Most Valuable Player: Prince’tanique Wilson (Bahamas)