WITH both teams out of World Championship contention, Panama defeated Trinidad and Tobago when the round-robin phase of the third round of NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) qualifying for the Men’s World Volleyball Championships continued Sunday in Canada.
The Central Americans came from behind to prevail 26-28, 25-23, 25-20, 25-19 after both teams had lost to Canada and Costa Rica over the previous two days to wave goodbye of any chance of competing between August 20 and September 21 in “Worlds.”
European-based strikers Ryan Stewart and Marc Honore led the way for T&T with 15 and 20 points, respectively, while Panamanian Domingo Avila tied Honore as the leading scorer in the 109-minute encounter. The Caribbean players got a chance for revenge yesterday when the two teams squared off again for the bronze medal.
After brushing aside Costa Rica 25-14, 25-16, 25-12 to finish at the top of the group (Group Q) in the second game of the double header, overwhelming favourites Canada were expected to beat them again last night to qualify for “Worlds.”
However, the loser of the clash will get another chance, as the runners-up of all four groups involved in the third round of qualifying in the region will compete in the middle of July in either Mexico or Puerto Rico and the triumphant team will be NORCECA’s fifth and final representative in the World Championships in Poland.
After placing second to their hosts in Cuba on Saturday, T&T women will get another chance in the runner-up tournament from June 2-9 at home.
The victorious team will be NORCECA’s fifth and final representative in the World Championships in Italy, beginning two days after the men’s competition — on September 23.