Mexico complete straight sets hat-trick at NORCECA

By Shammi Kowlessar

MEXICO won in straight sets again when the NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) Playoff Volleyball Tournament continued Saturday night at Sport & Physical Education Centre of the St Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies.
Hosts Trinidad and Tobago, who were on a bye Saturday night, also won their first three matches in the round-robin tournament without dropping a set.
The winner of their clash last night will earn the 24th and final place in the Women’s World Championships, to be staged in Italy from September 23-October 12.
Neither world No. 28 Mexico nor the five-time Caribbean champions, who are ranked just three places lower, have ever qualified for “Worlds” before.
Tournament favourites Mexico mauled Nicaragua 25-12, 25-14, 25-19 in just over an hour on Saturday night in the second match of the double-header and later coach Miguel Jorge Azair confidently stated: “We will win” when asked for a prediction in the match against T&T.
After losing to Mexico when the tournament served off on Wednesday night and then against T&T two nights later to miss out on an opportunity to make a third straight appearance in the World Championships, Costa Rica finally got off the mark in the five-nation tournament when they defeated Panama 25-19, 25-19, 23-25, 25-18.
The Panamanians, the lowest-ranked of the teams at No. 55 in the world, won just two sets from their four matches and were on a bye when the competition ended yesterday.
Costa Rica, ranked 29th in the world, played yesterday’s first match at 4 p.m. against the 46th-ranked Nicaraguans, who have only beaten Panama to date in this competition.
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