TRINIDAD and Tobago failed to take advantage of a two-set lead when the round-robin phase of the Women’s Pan American Volleyball Cup concluded Sunday night in Mexico.
After pocketing the first two sets against their hosts, the five-time Caribbean champions were just one set away from a huge upset and their very first victory of the week. But they could not hold on and the Mexicans roared back and eventually prevailed 18-21, 21-15, 25-15, 25-20, 15-8 in 111 minutes in Mexico City.
Two players from the winning side had 19 points each, but the game’s leading scorer was T&T’s Krystle Esdelle with 21. The captain was ably supported by former national youth skipper Darlene Ramdin (11) and Channon Thompson, Renele Forde and last year’s Trinidad and Tobago Volleyball Federation’s Player of the Year Sinead Jack, who scored ten points each.
Although this country’s girls did not win a match in Group A, Esdelle was the leading scorer in three of their five matches and was second best with 20 points in their four-set loss against the Cubans on Saturday. Though T&T went down against the Mexicans, the performance must have given the girls hope a month before they stage the playoff tournament to determine the 24th and final team for the World Championships.
In addition to Mexico and this country, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama will be involved and the winning team will advance to “Worlds” in Italy from September 23. Despite upsetting Peru and Canada and also edging T&T, the Mexicans did not advance to the knockout phase.
Cuba halted Peru 28-26, 27-25, 25-18 to also finish with three wins, but one of their victories was against the Mexicans and that determined which team ended up third.
The four-time champs, the team most successful in the history of this tournament, will come up against Group B runners-up Argentina in tonight’s quarter-finals, while Group A runner-up Canada tackled Puerto Rico.
Two-time champs Dominican Republic defeated Canada 25-22, 25-14, 25-22 on Sunday for their fifth victory from as many matches as they topped Group A and moved directly into tomorrow night’s semi-finals.
The US were on a bye, but the two-time defending champs had moved into the last four since Saturday when they stretched their unbeaten run to four to win Group B without dropping a set. In Sunday’s matches in the group at Pachuca, Puerto Rico defeated Colombia 25-13, 25-22, 31-29 and Argentina were 25-18, 25-12, 25-17 winners over Costa Rica.
The final is Thursday night in Mexico City and the champs will qualify for the World Grand Prix in the US in July next year.