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August 13, 2023

Between these lines…On a talented male volleyball team underachieving

Posted: Sunday, August 13, 2023. 11:08 am CST.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.

By Glenn Tillett: I uncharacteristically felt a huge wave of relief when Belize decisively won the second set 25-14 in its match against Nicaragua last night, ensuring that it would win the bronze medal.

Under nearly any other circumstances I would’ve been celebrating the achievement, but a sense of disquieting frustration still prevailed, a sense that this team of talented and hard-working athletes had under-achieved and had not lived up to my perception of their potential.

I could completely sympathize with team captain and setter Ethan Anderson who yanked off his jersey in apparent disgust as he stormed off the court after their 30-32 loss in the fourth and final set, and despite efforts by a teammate and a coach to console him, stormed away. Indeed, I joined the hundreds of fans who quietly but immediately left the arena not staying to witness the medal ceremony.

In retrospect, it dawns on me that I had been sitting tensely throughout the first set which Belize lost 18-25 because as has been its pattern, it gave away at least 5 or 6 points on serves. I could only wonder why in 5 of their 6 matches even against obviously inferior competition, Belize insisted on nearly always giving away the first set?
They rebounded to win the second set in decisive fashion but then reverted to form and badly lost the third set 25-19 after leading by a few points, 14-9, then watching Nicaragua tie at 19-19 all before making an uninterrupted run to the victory.

I knew as I watched Honduras beat Costa Rica in a lively 5-set match that decided which team would finish last, Belize only needed to win a single set to ensure it would finish third and win the bronze medal, and that even if it didn’t, it would still very, very likely win the bronze medal. If Nicaragua had blanked Belize 3-0, for example, they would both finish 3-3 in the match win/loss column and Belize would still hold the edge 11- 10 to 10-11 in sets won and lost but who knew what the other permutations could bring?

In competitive sports a warrior mentality demands that you go out on your shield, having given it your all. My bottom line is that while I congratulate the team and the Belize Volleyball Association for the accomplishment, and it is a huge accomplishment, I will be nagged by the frustration of my belief that we Belize should have won this tournament. We had the talent and skill to do it.

I sincerely thought that only Guatemala was our equal, but I would bet on Belize any time we played them. I hate being left with “shuldaves” and “culdaves”, frustration colored by annoyance and vexation at what could have, should have been if only …

Congratulations team Belize, despite all else we are proud of you, and thank you for making us proud Belizeans.


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