Sinead ‘Jackhammer’ Jack was the best player on the night and she sealed the victory with a shattering strike down the centre which sent local fans at the venue into jubilation.
Speaking after the historic triumph, Jack said, “Honestly I thought I had a wonderful performance but there is always room for improvement. It feels great to see the benefits of our hard work. The men trained with us last few weeks and they taught us to fight till the end. ” She added, “We did this for the people that supported us from day one, the sweat, tears and dedication were shown on that court.”
Jack led all scoring with 15 points (12 spikes, two blocks) while TT captain Krystle Esdelle added 13 points (12 spikes). Paola Ramirez had 13 points (11 spikes) for the Costa Ricans. In the previous match, Mexico brushed aside Dominica 3-0 (25:7, 25:13, 25:7). Melanie Parra scored 16 points (12 spikes) for the Mexicans.
This was the third time TT reached the final stage of qualifiers for a World Championship after losing out previously in 2009 and 2013. The national women produced a clinical showing to crush the Costa Ricans 25-19, 25-16, 25-22 after defeating Dominica 3-0 as well on Friday. The game changer was the improvement in the serving and blocking by TT coupled with more attacks through the middle.
There was no hiding the elation of TT skipper Esdelle who said, “I am so excited because four years ago we missed the opportunity to do it and this year we decided as team ‘we are going to do it’. It was difficult for us to stay together and work without a lot of resources and support. It is because of the players wanting this more than anything else that brought us here.”
Looking to the future, Esdelle declared that she would like to see a home for volleyball as well as more support and sponsors on board.
TT coach Francisco Cruz held back the tears to say, “Everyone is excited at the moment because we worked really hard and the players sacrificed a lot. The public needs to know that this was not easy to qualify. More work is needed now to continue to compete with the best in the world.”
An overjoyed president of Trinidad and Tobago Volleyball Federation, Nicole Selvon said, “This is one of the most exciting moments we have had. The team is really excited to be going to Japan. We have to up our game now to ensure everything is in place for them next year.”