ROAD TOWN, Tortola, October 15, 2023. – St. Vincent and the Grenadines are the Eastern Caribbean Volleyball Association (ECVA) U23 Male Champions, after overcoming a pesky St. Kitts and Nevis in a five-set thriller (25-18, 24-26, 27-25, 23-25, 15-6).
With the victory, St. Vincent and the Grenadines also secure a berth to the U23 Pan American Championship.
Both captains led from the front. St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Jamaar Cropper tallied an incredible thirty-four (34) points, to lead all scorers. Captain Zendai Richards of St. Kitts and Nevis amassed twenty (20) points to lead his team.
Both teams were engaged in a mental tug-o-war in the early stages of the first set, with no team able to create any real separation. St. Vincent and the Grenadines squeezed out a two-point lead at the second technical timeout. On resumption of play, St. Vincent and the Grenadines captain, Jamaar Cropper, thundered two serves to extend the advantage. That lead proved sufficient, to secure the first set.
Cropper was at it again in the second set. He unleashed two serves, one an ace, put St. Vincent and the Grenadines up by two at the technical timeout. Both teams exchanged attacks and St. Vincent and the Grenadines took a one-point lead into the second technical timeout. St. Kitts and Nevis did not fold, though, and they made some critical stops at the net, to level the match at one set a piece.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines stormed out to a 5-point lead by the first technical timeout and were up by as many seven points. St. Kitts and Nevis managed to make inroads via key stops at the net. The lead was cut to two points by the second technical timeout. It was a thrilling back and forth between the two teams, requiring an extra frame before St. Vincent and the Grenadines closed out the set.
Both teams fought doggedly to claim an advantage. There were some nail-biting exchanges and the one-point differential between the teams, at the second technical timeout highlighted the closeness of the set. St. Kitts and Nevis served a couple balls that unsettled the St. Vincent and Grenadines attack and that was the difference maker in the fourth set.
In the fifth set, St. Vincent and the Grenadines were able to create some early separation and force a timeout from St. Kitts and Nevis. That lead grew to four points by the time the teams switched sides. On resumption, St. Vincent and the Grenadines added to their advantage and forced another St. Kitts and Nevis timeout. That lead proved insurmountable.
“We set out to achieve gold and we got it,” an ecstatic Cropper shouted.
“We fought and we fell just short but we will rise up,” Richards promised.
Ten countries, the largest representation to date, competed in the championship.