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T&T still in semis hunt

...despite losing to Barbados

By \\\\\ Shammi Kowlessar

AFTER going down in four sets on Wednesday night, Trinidad and Tobago’s men will get another shot at the semi-finals when the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) Championship continues today at Jean Pierre Complex, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.

In the second of today’s two quarterfinals (6 p.m.), the hosts will face the loser of the first match of yesterday’s schedule between Jamaica and Curacao, which began an hour late because the court needed repairs and was not completed by press time.

After a set and a half on Wednesday night, T&T were on their way to winning Group B and moving straight into tomorrow’s semi-finals, but the Barbadians turned things around and battled back to prevail 20-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-18.

After leading his team with 17 points during a four-set triumph over Suriname the night before, left-handed attacker Shawn Simpson, a six-time Barbados national squash champion, was in sparkling form again as he had a game-high 16 points, littered with 15 kills.

Compatriot Fabian Cox had 11 kills in his 14 points, the same amount as the contribution of T&T’s top scorer Simon Blake.

The country’s top beach volleyball player had 12 kills and led his team for the second straight time as he had 17 points when the 2010 champs came from behind to defeat Suriname in four sets when the tournament served off on Monday.

Despite going down, T&T had the edge (3-1) on serve and nosed out their opponents (11-10) in shots blocked in the 102-minute contest.  However, the Barbadians, champs in nine of the 14 editions of this tournament, led 45-41 on kills and committed less errors (33-39) than their opponents. With the victory, they moved straight into the semis, along with defending champs Bahamas, who after nosing out Curacao in five sets the night before, needed five again (25-22, 22-25, 20-25, 25-21, 15-10) to defeat Jamaica to finish on top of Group A.

The winner of last night’s Jamaica/Curacao contest, will finish second in the group and do battle against Suriname, the third-placed team in Group B, in today’s first quarterfinal at 4 p.m. 

In the first match of Wednesday’s triple header, Jamaica’s women cruised past Bahamas 25-19, 25-14, 25-18.

There will be four matches on the schedule for the very first time in the tournament today.

The women will open and close the show as Barbados and Suriname will get things going at 2 p.m. and Bahamas and T&T will bring down the curtain from 8 p.m.

It will be the final match in the round-robin phase for the hosts, the overwhelming favourites to capture a fifth consecutive title in the biennial tournament. 

The girls, who came within one match of qualifying for next month’s World Championships in Italy, defeated both six-time champs Barbados and Suriname in straight sets over the first two nights and opposed Jamaica last night in the final match of yesterday’s triple header.

The straight round-robin phase of the tournament will conclude tomorrow and the top two teams will clash for the gold medal on Sunday at 6 p.m., two hours after the men’s final.    

Both champion teams will qualify for the NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) Continental Championships and the Pan American Cup next year.

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