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Jul 1, 2019

Belize Wins Silver in CA U-23 Female Volleyball Championship

The female under-twenty-three national volleyball team claimed second place in the Central American Volleyball U-23 Championship this past weekend. It’s their first time winning this medal in the championships. The tournament was held in Managua, Nicaragua where the team played a total of six games in the past week. They lost two of the games by close margins, but won four which secured them the silver medal. The team arrived back in country on Sunday evening. Reporter Andrea Polanco has the story.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Belize’s U-23 Female Volleyball team won the silver medal in the Central American Championships. The team played a total of six games – and they won four of those matches. Team Belize lost their opening match to Honduras and then later lost to Costa Rica but they went on to beat Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama and El Salvador during the competition. After a week of intense competition, the team returned home with their second place finish to the cheers and support from family members at the PGIA on Sunday evening.

Captain of the team Sherika Burton says that it was a grueling competition and while they missed out on the gold medal to Costa Rica – they are happy with the second place because it was a hard fought championship.


Sherika Burton

Sherika Burton, Captain, U-23 Female National Volleyball

“Everyone’s really excited and everyone’s happy. We all appreciate that we came in second because we really worked hard and we pushed ourselves in order to get this second place that we got.  We had our day off on the second day. So, after that it was straight game. We didn’t have any rest or anything like that. So, that is what tested our physical ability.   For our last game, for the medal, we went into that game knowing that was our medal match. Our coach already told us that this is your medal match you have to take it. If we had not won that game, we wouldn’t have placed anything at all. It was do or die. That was everything we had to put out there in order to get second. What inspired us to play hard is that we actually sacrificed a lot of time and a lot of stuff in order to reach out there. A lot of people put in a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of effort in us and so we couldn’t let them down.”


It is a big win for the team because going into the competition the team didn’t get to practice the way they wanted to because of conflicting school schedules. The competition opened on shaky grounds for the girls – with the team losing an important match against Honduras and then they had to battle to the end with El Salvador to win the silver medal. Here’s how Coach Jose Fontes explains the team’s performance.


Jose Fontes

Jose Fontes, Coach, Belize National Volleyball Team [Translated]

“The first game with Honduras – we don’t want to justify that. The first day there was a lot of breeze in the field. The preliminary warm up for the team wasn’t good, so in reality it affected us because we they didn’t have confidence in themselves to make it happen. In one of the start, our second player, Mya Musa was very decisive in her attacks. We weren’t a team in good form and it cost us that game with the tough start for the final outcome of the competition. The game with El Salvador, if you will recall, the year before El Salvador started out winning the match. These girls prepared well psychologically for that team and they attacked the captain Sherika Burton who, for most of the competition, was seriously injured. But she never gave up in spirit and promise to her country and she pushed the team to an important victory against the El Salvador team who never gave up.”


While the team won the silver medal in the competition – there were several stand out players from Belize. Two of the athletes, Fatima Ramirez and Mya Musa were recognized with individual awards. Ramirez won the best attacker award.


Fatima Ramirez

Fatima Ramirez, Best Attacker, U-23 Central American Volleyball Championship

“Every time they sent me the ball, I had to go out with my full force to hit the ball as hard as I could to make sure I make a point off of it.”


Andrea Polanco

“What was the game like out there – was it difficult to play the position you had out there?”


Fatima Ramirez

“Well, it wasn’t that difficult because I am already used to playing the position. I worked out hard so I expected the pressure that was put on me to constantly kill the ball and so most of the sets were coming to me and so I had to make sure I took care of the ball.”


Andrea Polanco

“Talk to me about being out there on that court?”


Fatima Ramirez

“Well, the game that was most difficult to me was the Costa Rica game. We took them way past twenty-five but we couldn’t finish the set. It was really hard and we just couldn’t finish it.”


Melanie Palacio is a middle blocker on the team. This is only her second time playing in an international volleyball match; her first time was last year with the senior team in Belize. She says that this time around it was tougher playing away from home.


Melanie Palacio

Melanie Palacio, Silver Medalist, U-23 Central American Volleyball Championship

“We didn’t have that hype and that cheering and all the love like we had last year. But still it was helpful because Nicaragua, the home team, they had all that support and we are like, we are going to use this to our advantage and use this as if though this is our crowd and use that to kinda just push us.”


Andrea Polanco

“What was the level of competition like – was it more difficult than last year?”


Melanie Palacio

“To be honest, because I didn’t play as much last year and I was in the starting six this year, it was a lot harder this time for me.”


Andrea Polanco

“Now that you guys have secured the silver medal, what is the feeling like for you?”


Melanie Palacio

“It is very exciting and I am happy that we could come back home with something. We knew we could. So we just did our best and we brought it home so we are really happy about that.”


And to top off the win, team celebrated their assistant coach Lupita Quan with a mini birthday celebration at the airport upon their arrival.  Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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