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Curaçao Lift Title, Jamaica Finish Sixth
Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
It took a nail-biting five sets to decide the winners of this year's eighth Junior Caribbean Volleyball Championships.
In the end Curaçao prevailed with a 29-27, 20-25, 25-27, 25-11, 23-11 victory over Guadeloupe in the final, which was played at the University of Technology Auditorium on Wednesday evening.
Trinidad and Tobago captured the bronze medal with an exciting 25-22, 25-17, 28-26 victory over arch-rivals Barbados. Host Jamaica finished sixth.
Curaçao began the final confidently, winning the opening set 29-27. However, after losing the first set Guadeloupe, found their rhythm in the second and third sets, as they rallied to take both 25-20, 27-25, and a 2-1 lead in the match.
A win away from lifting the title, Guadeloupe faltered down the stretch, as Curaçao regained their confidence to clinch the last two sets 25-11, 23-11.
Gilbert Paulina, head coach of Curaçao, was very delighted with his team's performance.
"I told the boys that they have to believe that they can win and if they don't believe they you can't win," Paulina said. "They believed in me and so they won the championships.
"We came to win and we told the guys that they can't be nervous but just take it slowly as the championship goes on and we went on out win it," Paulina said. The Curaçao coach won the Phillip Greenland award for best coach.
Jamaica had a disappointing run in the tournament and were beaten 25-21, 25-22, 25-22 by the US Virgin Islands in the play-off for fifth and sixth places.
The local players won just one game while losing four.
O'Neil Ebanks, coach of Jamaica's team, said lack of experience and immaturity of the players were some of the factors which contributed to his side's weak performance at the championships.
"I thought that inexperience played a big part in our performances, and we also had some mental lapses in closing out each of the sets that we played," said Ebanks.
"The scores were really competitive, but the mental toughness wasn't there to take us over the brink," Ebanks said. "However, they are young and so this is a learning process for them, and they can only get better from this."