Two new champions were crowned following some riveting final day action on Sunday, November 22 at the tenth UWI Pelican Volleyball Invitational Tournament held inside the Gymnasium at the UWI Mona, Bowl. Both pre-tournament favourites and defending champions were knocked from their top positions thanks to some breathtaking on-court action. When the curtains came down it was the G. C. Foster College who reigned supreme in the female section with a 3-2 win over UWI while the UWI male team dethroned perennial champions Vikings 3-1 to complete the day of upsets. Earlier in the day’s action UWI B claimed the third place match beating Viqueens 2-0, 25-10; 25-23 while Venus claimed the male third place game 2-0 with a 25-20;25-23 victory over the Port Mourant Training Center team from Guyana.
The female final proved to be a spectacle which had fans standing for almost every second of the match. Led by captain Tasha-Gaye Richards and former national Beach volleyball representatives Cherine Richards and Cheryl Daley, UWI got off to a dominating start taking the first set 25-17. GC Foster showed their worth and thanks to strong play from their own influential captain Scott, clawed their way back into the match with a 26-24 second set win.
GC Foster then took the ascendancy, dominating play but were denied a 2-1 lead as UWI fought back to claim the third set 26-24. The fourth set proved to be the best set of the championships with UWI jumping out to an 8 point lead at 16-8 before GC Foster fought back to level the game at 22 all. In a 41 minute mêlée neither team could be separated as rallies got longer. It was GC Foster however who showed tougher mental strength to claim a pivotal fourth set 31-29 before sealing victory with a 15-13 final set.
The male final was no less a spectacle as it was defending champions Vikings who looked to defend their title against an experienced UWI outfit. UWI got off to a dream start against the champions, taking the first set 25-23 before falling 25-22 in the second. With both teams tied at a set a piece, the intensity of play doubled in set three which saw the teams tied at 24 all. Patrons were leaping out their seats as the action continued to intensify with neither team able to separate themselves the score moved to 32-32 before the UWI sparked hysteria for the home fans as they came out 34-32 to take the 2-1 set lead. The third set proved a telling one as UWI continued their dominant play into the fourth and took an early lead before Vikings fought back to level the score at 24 all yet again. However the UWI team showed their grit and determination as they mounted an all out attack at the Vikings net which brought dividends as they clinched the final with a 26-24 fourth set win and a 3-1 match score.
“We really wanted this one. They (Vikings) have always been our Achilles heel and we spoke ahead of the game that this year we would come out here and try to dominate them in all aspects of the game, from our serving to net play to our blockers up front. It was an amazing final and I am thankful for the victory. We really wanted the double but the females fell just short but we expect them to bounce back quickly as they are a quality team,” said O’neil Ebanks, coach of the UWI Pelican male team.
The Tournament was being held for the tenth year after being inaugurated in 2012 and is staged as a means of giving local players international experience. This year players from Guyana, Curacao, the Bahamas and Barbados participated.