LEADING SCORER: Krystle Esdelle

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T&T go down again in Pan Am Cup

By \\\\\ Shammi Kowlessar

TRINIDAD and Tobago turned in an improved performance but still suffered another straight-set defeat when the Women’s Pan American Volleyball Cup continued Thursday in Mexico. After failing to win a set against two-time champions Dominican Republic when the tournament served off the day before, the five-time Caribbean champions came very close in two of the three sets before they went down 25-23, 25-1, 26-24 against Canada in Mexico City.

Despite the defeat, T&T’s skipper Krystle Esdelle was the leading scorer in the 68-minute contest with 14 points, one more than Canada’s Lisa Barclay. After two straight defeats, the Caribbean girls have almost no chance of reaching the knockout phase of the tournament, but they were at massive odds to do so from the start as they are ranked lower than any of the other ten participating countries at No. 31 in the world.

The victory was the second from as many matches for the 20th-ranked Canadians, who had defeated world No. 15 Peru in four sets in Wednesday. And the South Americans were upset again when Mexico, ranked 28th in the world, edged them 25-23, 16-25, 28-26, 25-21, 15-11. The eight-ranked Dominican Republic joined Canada at the top of Group A with a come-from-behind 24-26, 25-17, 25-21, 25-19 triumph over four-time champs Cuba.

In Group B action at Hidalgo, two-time defending champs and world No. 2 USA scored their second straight-set victory when they breezed past Argentina 25-20, 25-14, 25-20 and Puerto Rico whipped Costa Rica 25-15, 25-11, 25-19. After losing to the Americans on the opening day, the Colombians were on a bye.

The group winners will advance directly into Wednesday’s semi-finals, while the second and third-placed teams will battle in quarterfinals the night before. The champions will be crowned Thursday night in Mexico City and will qualify for the World Grand Prix in the United States in July next year.

After tackling Peru yesterday, T&T will do battle with Cuba at 3 p.m. today and conclude their round-robin campaign from seven o’clock tomorrow night against hosts Mexico.

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