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NORCECA bronze for T&T

By Shammi Kowlessar

FINALLY!

After four failed attempts in the past, Trinidad and Tobago picked up their first-ever medal in a NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) tournament yesterday.

The historic moment came on the stroke of 3 p.m. when Fabian Whitfield and Daneil Williams completed a nail-biting 27-25, 19-21, 15-13 triumph over Weston Carico and Curt Toppel of the United States for the bronze medal in the penultimate leg of this year's NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit at Mission Beach, Toco.

This country's No. 1-ranked male pair had actually lost the day before in the quarter-finals, but got a second bite of the cherry as the format of the men's event was double elimination.

And they came back yesterday morning to score a 21-14, 2-19 victory over Mitchel Daniel and Eargenell De Cuba of Aruba.

Williams and Whitfield were then brushed aside 21-11, 21-17 by the United States No. 1 combination of William Montgomery and Antonio Ciarelli in the semi-finals.

But the youngsters who hail from right there in Toco came out with guns blazing in the bronze-medal match and produced the upset after a neck-and-neck battle from the first whistle.

The victory came three weeks after the duo walked away empty-handed after they also reached the semis in the previous leg in St Lucia.

It was also achieved right after the fans had watched the country's No. 1 female team fail to secure a bronze medal.

After losing 21-18, 21-12 to the United States No. 1 tandem of Traci Weamer and Trealle Hunkus in the semis, Ayanna Dyette and Nancy Joseph were pushed off the podium when they were beaten 21-13, 21-10 by Costa Ricans Ingrid Morales and Natalia Alfaro.

It was Dyette's second straight fourth-place performance, coming three weeks after the former top indoor player and Elki Philip had just missed a medal in St Lucia.

Philip and the returning Andrea Davis finished seventh after beginning the three-day tournament in a very tough group. One place ahead was Shenelle Gordon and La-Teisha Joseph, in their very first NORCECA tournament.

T&T's other female pair, Apphia Glasgow and Sherva Charles failed to reach the knockout stage and the two other male pairs – Simon Blake/Colin Bernard, Kevin Rivers/Jason Dennis – went out in the second round.

Blake and Bernard, another duo from Toco, had placed fifth in St Lucia.

For the second tournament in succession, the United States walked away with both gold medals.

Montgomery, who won in St Lucia with a different partner, and St Lucia runner-up Ciarelli, outclassed Nicaraguans Gerald Umana and Henry Hernandez 21-10, 21-11 in the men's final.

And in an all-USA title match, World University Games champions Emily Day and Summer Ross beat St Lucia winner Weamer and her new partner Hunkus 21-18, 21-15.

The 12th and final leg of this year's NORCECA circuit will take place next weekend (November 30-December 2) in Aruba.

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