Two years ago, Arti Ramroop stunned the country when she secured passes in all 21 subjects she wrote in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.
France-based Channon Thompson had match-high points to lead three players in double-figures as host and four-time reigning champions T&T sounded a warning to all challengers with a straightforward 25–15, 25–18, 25–14 victory over Barbados in their Women’s Division match-up of the 15th Senior Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (Cazova) Championship at the Jean Pierre Complex, Mucurapo, on Monday night.
Seen as a preview to Sunday’s final of the five-team women’s event, T&T dominated their long-time rivals, inspired by Thompson’s ten kills, and four service aces in the 71 minute duel.
Sinead Jack added 11, Thompson’s fellow France-based team-mate Darlene Ramdin, ten and Jalicia Ross-Kydd eight in the win which was backed up by their dominance in kills, 36–16, and service aces, 14–4.
Both teams were equal on blocks, with six apiece while Barbados committed 19 errors to T&T’s 21 in a contest which saw both teams battling closely early on, only for the host to pull away. For Barbados overseas-based professional Shari Matthews led the way with 13 points, with the next best scorers being Anicia Wood and captain, Thonya Joseph, with four points each.
Speaking after the loss, Joseph said going into the encounter the first match is always tough in terms of players being nervous and it was made even tougher coming up against bitter rival T&T. “We did not play our best volleyball and going forward we know we have to do much better. We do not play again until Thursday so we have some time to go back to the drawing board and correct the things we need to.”
T&T captain, Kelly-Anne Billingy said: “For us it was a good way to start the tournament with a win against Barbados coming on the heels of losing out to Mexico in the World Championship qualifiers last month.
“Our all-round offence was better tonight that in recent matches as we served better. We still can play better than this because we are still adjusting to the new system of our new coach along with the inclusion of some new players.”
Andrew Brathwaite, coach of the Barbadian team, credited T&T for taking full advantage of the mistakes made by his team while admitting his team did not play to its best potential.
Brathwaite also expressed hope that his team would find its true potential and have another chance to face T&T, perhaps in the final. “We have a few senior players and for us to get to the final, they along with the newcomers will need to step up and play to their real potential because tonight we were very poor,” he said.
Nicholson Drakes, T&T’s coach for the first time at the Cazova level, said he was not all that happy despite the win. “We worked on some things in training and tonight we did not execute them well and we were lucky because Barbados is a team we know puts up a good battle, but tonight they were off their game.”