The Belize National Under-18 female volleyball team won three games against Honduras, El Salvador and Panama, but finished in fourth place after three losses at the Under-20 Central American championships held in Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras from August 19-25. It was still a considerable improvement over the previous team which finished sixth at the last junior tournament.
The Belize girls had to go to five sets to triumph over Panama on Friday evening. Led by Maurissa Williams with seven spikes, four aces and three blocks for a total of 14 pts they took the first set 25-23. Sherika Burton added 13 pts, including three blocks and two aces and Gianna Brown had seven as they won the second set 25-22.
Leyia Hernandez and Kandyce Burn entered the game, but the Panamanians went to extra points to win the next two sets: 26-24 and 25-23.
Leandra Betson and Jahshema Saunders added six points each, while Xiomara Quan chipped in two points and set the ball for 24 successful attacks. Libero Nayala Tun dug up 13 saves and had nine good receptions tough it out to win the fifth set 19-17.
The Belize girls started off with a 3-0 win over their hosts: Honduras: 25-17, 25-13, 25-20 on Monday. Sherika Burton top-scored with 14 pts, including 10 spikes, two blocks and two aces.
Jahshema Saunders added 13 pts from six spikes and seven aces, while Maurissa Williams added eight points from four spikes and four blocks.
Xiomara Quan also served four aces, while Leandra Betson and Kandyce Burn each added two points.
Belize’s head coach, Lupita Quan was most pleased with the Belize girls’ performance as they took down El Salvador 3 – 1, winning the first two sets: 25-18 and 25-18. El Salvador recovered to take the third set 25-21, but Belize won the fourth set and the match: 25-23.
Sherika Burton led with 17 pts, including 15 spikes and two blocks while Jahshema Saunders added 12 spikes and served up an ace. Maurissa Williams added 11 pts including six spikes, four blocks and an ace, and Leandra Betson scored six points, including four spikes, a block and an ace.
Belize suffered her first loss against up-to-then undefeated Nicaragua: 25-22, 25-11, 25-21 last Wednesday. Sherika Burton scored nine spikes; Maurissa Williams added three spikes and a block, and Jahshema Saunders spiked home three points. Nicaragua won the silver, their only loss was to Guatemala.
Belize suffered a second loss to the eventual gold medallists, Guatemala last Saturday.
The Chapinas dominated 3-0: 25-14, 25-19 and 25-18. Sherika Burton scored 13 pts, including 11 spikes and two blocks, and defended well with eight good receptions. Williams had 11 pts, including five aces, while Jahshema Saunders had five points and dug up five saves. Brown, Betson and Burn each chipped in a point, and Belize benefited from 18 errors by the Chapinas. Unfortunately Belize gave up 43 pts on errors.
Belize suffered a third loss to bronze medallists, Costa Rica, on Sunday. The Ticas girls dominated 3-0: 25-14, 25-12, 25-12. Sherika Burton scored seven points, dug up three saves and had eight good receptions; while Saunders had five points. Brown had two blocks and Kevanna Sebastian had one block. Xiomara set seven successful attacks, while Nayala Tun had seven good receptions. Belize benefited from 18 errors by the Tica girls, but gave up 48 pts on errors.
Sherika Burton, ranked the third best scorer of the entire tournament with 74 pts. from 66 spikes, six blocks and two aces. Xiomara Quan was deemed the third best setter and Maurissa Williams was fourth best blocker. Assistant coaches Sherlene Johnson and Shelmadine Cacho, and manager Mrs. Sharon Tun accompanied the team
Under the NORCECA system which differs from the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), points are awarded: 5 pts for a 3-0 win, 4 pts for a 3-1 win and 3 pts for a 3-2 win. Two points for a 2-3 loss and one point for a loss: 1-3 and 0 pts for a 0-3 loss or a forfeit.
An even younger selection of Belize’s girls will compete again at the Central American Female Youth Volleyball Championship in Guatemala beginning on Saturday, August 31.