IN FOR THE KILL: Two players from the Suriname team attempt to block as Trinidad and Tobago’s Ryan Stewart goes for a kill during the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association Championships on Monday night at the Jean Pierre Complex, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain. Trinidad and Tobago won the match in four sets. —Photo: ISHMAEL SALANDY

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T&T hunt semis berth

Women begin quest for five straight in style

By \\\\\ Shammi Kowlessar

AFTER a come-from-behind victory on Monday night, Trinidad and Tobago’s men will play for a place in the semi-finals when the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CASOVA) Championship continues today at the Jean Pierre Complex, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.

A victory over multiple champions Barbados at 8 p.m. in the final match of the triple header will ensure that the 2010 champs finish on top of Group B and move straight into Saturday’s semi-finals.

Curacao, Jamaica and Bahamas, who dethroned T&T in this biennial tournament with a thrilling five-set triumph in the gold-medal match two years ago in St Croix, comprise Group A. The winners of both groups will advance directly into the semis, while the other four teams in the tournament will play the quarter-finals on Friday.

T&T had to survive some very anxious moments before they finally closed out Suriname in 100 minutes in the final match of a triple header on Monday’s opening night. The hosts started slowly, but ended like a house on fire, as with the fourth set delicately poised at 18-17, they reeled off the last seven points to triumph 18-25, 25-18, 25-23, 25-17.

Five of the points during this breathtaking streak were blocked shots by the combination of Marc Honore and Ryan Stewart. The Portugal-based Honore had 11 kills in his 15 points, two less than the contribution of the game’s leading scorer Simon Blake.

Blake, who combines with Daneil Williams to form this country’s No. 1-ranked beach volleyball pair, produced 13 kills and also served three aces.

The France-based Stewart had nine points, while veteran skipper Nolan Tash and Brandon Legall, who represented the country at last year’s World Under-21 Beach Volleyball Championships, chipped in with eight apiece.

T&T dominated in kills (48-36), blocked shots (10-6) as well as aces (6-2). Their opponents tonight have won the tournament a record nine times, but it has been eight years since the Barbadians last lifted the title.

During this period, T&T women have been unbeaten and the overwhelming favourites began their quest for a fifth consecutive crown with a 25-15, 25-18, 25-14 triumph over six-time champs Barbados on Monday night.

Channon Thompson had ten kills in her game-high 14 points for the winners, while fellow Europe-based players Sinead Jack and Darlene Ramdin were also on the ball with 11 and ten, respectively. Barbadian Shari Matthews (13) was the only other player to reach double figures in the 71-minute encounter.

T&T were completely dominant in kills (36-16) and aces (14-4), but both teams had six blocked shots and the Barbadians committed just two unforced errors (19) less than their opponents.

After facing Suriname last night, the T&T girls are on a bye today, but will return to action at 8 p.m. tomorrow against Jamaica. 

Bahamas and Jamaica square off in the first two games of today’s triple header. The women will take the court at 4 p.m. and the men are scheduled to clash two hours after. 

Defending men’s champs Bahamas saved at match point as they won the last three points to avoid disaster by nosing out Curacao 16-14 in the fifth and final set as yesterday’s opening match finished just before press time. 

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