Jamaican girls ready for NORCECA volleyball qualifiers
AS Jamaica finalise preparations for the NORCECA qualification of the 2014 FIVB Women's Volleyball World Championship at the Alfred Sangster Auditorium, University of Technology (UTech) from November 28-29, captain Shedieky Barnes believes the team is "match ready as individuals".
However, with "lack of players and venue availabilities", Barnes says the ladies "are making the best of use of what we have".
With the final 12 to be finalised and a number of overseas players from college and with professional experiences yet to join, Barnes said the team will be training today and tomorrow at GC Foster College to "hopefully develop team chemistry".
Ranked 53 in the world and drawn in Pool E, Jamaica will host Aruba, Cayman Islands and Barbados in the NORCECA qualification this weekend.
The Jamaican skipper said the team will look forward to the competition with "excitement and confidence".
"Excitement, because some of us are getting the opportunity to display our skills for Jamaica at home among our family and fans for the first time. Confident at the fact that we have a good squad that is capable to qualify us for the next round," she explained.
A Yallahs High School past student who played netball for the school and Jamaica at both Under-16 and Under-21 levels, Barnes didn't start playing volleyball until she went to GC Foster in 2002.
Fresh from winning with Justbet TVJSN Beach Volleyball League with Kai Wright, Barnes is also not making much of Jamaica's ranking in this competition.
Barbados have a world number 57 ranking, while Aruba and Cayman are both ranked at number 91, compared to Jamaica's number 53.
"The ranking is not really how good you are, but how much competition the country participates in. With Aruba and Cayman, they always find new overseas players to represent them. Some of those players have even played for previous national teams," she revealed. "So we are not watching the ranking. They are all tough teams," she pointed out.
"Apart from Barbados who have beaten us the last couple of matches, including the finals of the last World Championship qualifiers, the remaining teams are unknown to us.
"Cayman is always changing players. As for Aruba, last time we saw them play was about five years ago. We expect tough competition from all teams. I don't think any of the matches will be easy; our mindset will have to be mentally tough and fight hard for every point in the tournament," she explained.
Only group winners are guaranteed a place in the second round, with the runners-up going into the play-offs.