KINGSHILL — Four St. Croix Central High School seniors have signed National Letters of Intent to play on the men’s volleyball team at Benedict College, an NCAA Division II program in Columbia, South Carolina.
The four — Taj Bates, Jomari Jacobs, Ahijaa Sweeney and DeAndre Taylor — are among six signees by the Tigers’ men’s volleyball team for the 2021-2022 school year.
“The senior (Sweeney) at St. Croix Central High School plans to major in Sports Management while playing for the Tigers’ Volleyball Team!” Jelani Ritter said on Facebook. “Congratulations Ahijaa make the Virgin Islands and your family proud.”
Bates is a 5-foot-9 libero — otherwise known as a defensive specialist — who will also split time with Benedict’s baseball team. Jacobs is a 6-2 right-side hitter, Sweeney is a 5-9 setter and Taylor is a 6-3 middle blocker.
They were joined on the Tigers’ signing class by Marlon Belisaire, a 6-2 outside hitter from Uniondale, N.Y.; and Kendersley Marcellin, a 6-foot outside hitter and setter from Orlando, Fla.
“They bring a lot of depth to the team,” Benedict men’s volleyball coach Gwendolyn Rouse said in a prepared release. “Taj Bates is a defensive player and can pass the ball very well. He has a very high IQ for volleyball and is a leader. Ahijaa Sweeney is not that big, and may have been overlooked, but he is really going to be able to run the team. Jomari and DeAndrae are very strong up front. They bring a lot of power. Those four from the Virgin Islands have been playing together for five or six years and that is going to be a big advantage.
“With them, along with Benjamin [Attles, 2020-21 signee], I really feel we’ll be right at the top of the conference. This team is going to be very competitive from the start. They are all excited about coming and playing and they all have volleyball in their heart.”