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Aug 9, 2018

Belize Makes Volleyball History Winning Silver Medal in Central American Championship

The national volleyball team scored a huge upset this week that brought both pride and glory to the nation. The force behind the team is the incredible Lupita Quan, who has invested her life in the sport.  First the girls neatly beat Costa Rica, a team that up until Tuesday had been undefeated for fifteen solid years. That victory was crowned by another which was overflowing with national fervour. On Wednesday night, the national team beat the Guatemalan selection in a nail-biting game that was decided in the last minute of play in the fifth set. All this went down at the Civic Centre where the twentieth Central American Volleyball Championship took place this week.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The comparatively large show of support from fans of volleyball, notwithstanding the inclement weather that blanketed Belize City all of Wednesday, was the impetus that Team Belize needed as it faced Guatemala in the final match of the Twentieth Central American Women’s Volleyball Championship.

 

Allan Sharp, President, Belize Volleyball Association

“The crowd was massive.  I think this is the most crowd I’ve seen in the City Center yet, so I am very happy.  The crowd did their job, the girls did their job and we pulled off the victory.”

 

Since tip-off on August fourth, the Civic Center has been the home of the annual tournament this go-around.  Having bested Costa Rica the night before, all hopes were that Belize’s female selection would handsomely overcome our neighbors in the west to win the coveted gold medal on the strength of points accumulated throughout the competition.  Despite a victory over Guatemala, the girls were just a few points shy of unseating Costa Rica.  Second place, however, is still a historic outcome for Belize.

 

Allan Sharp

Allan Sharp

“I think we did very well, considering a very big emotional win last night against Costa Rica and to come now and to play a five-setter, it took us five sets but we did it.  We beat Guatemala, the main team that we always want to beat.  So we pulled it off, the girls did an excellent job.  We ended up coming in second.  We actually tied with Costa Rica in everything, so we had to go all the way down to points-ratio in the criteria and unfortunately we have a lower points-ratio by a slight margin.  I think it’s 1.17 for us and 1.27 for Costa Rica, so they end up coming in first and we come in second.”

 

With a final score of fifteen to thirteen, following a set of five, team captain Nelissa Ramirez was simply overjoyed.

 

Nelissa Ramirez

Nelissa Ramirez, Captain, Team Belize

“I am really, really excited that we won tonight.  We have made history, especially that we’ve beaten Costa Rica.”

 

That triumph is in respect of Tuesday’s match against Costa Rica which, at the end of the tournament, has since extended its quarter-century supremacy in women’s volleyball.  Belize’s overall performance, nonetheless, has left Shantell Arnold who won an award for Best Opposite, at a loss for words.

 

Shantell Arnold, Opposite Hitter

“Words can’t explain.  Honestly, I don’t know.  I’ve been waiting for years to win a Central American Championship, I’ve been playing ten years and finally at home, we won.”

 

Shantell Arnold

Reporter

“Was it easy?”

 

Shantell Arnold

“Not easy.  Many times, especially after the El Salvador game, I said I can’t let that come back and haunt us and so on the last serve I was on the line again and I was like, “Okay Shantell, you can’t let it happen again.”  I remember a Facebook comment, “Shantell mek my heart broke.  I seh I mek my own heart bruk and I cyant mek ih happen again.  And so I just focused on getting it in and we played our best and we did it.”

 

The Most Valuable Player was Yuliana Gonzalez of Costa Rica.  She was also awarded Best Server and Best Spiker.  Belize’s Sherika Burton was equally recognized as Best Spiker.  So what’s next for Team Belize?

 

Allan Sharp

“Well from here, we’re second so the first thing is to hope that they allow a second team into the continental championship.  But obviously, we have a very young team, more than half of it is under twenty-three.  The under-twenty-three championship should be held this year, we’re still waiting to see where, so we should have a very strong team with that and obviously we want to keep as many of the girls together for the long haul because it’s all about continuing to play as a team.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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