TOP PLAYERS: Multiple individual prize winners Courtnee-Mae Clifford, second from left, and Channon Thompson are flanked by the other winners, Barahone Maria Elena, left, and Sinead Jack after the second leg NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) qualifying tournament on Sunday for next year’s World Women’s Volleyball Championships. —Photo: CURTIS CHASE

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Thompson, Clifford shine at UWI

By Shammi Kowlessar

CHANNON THOMPSON and Courtnee-Mae Clifford were by far the most outstanding players in the second leg NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) qualifying tournament for the World Women’s Volleyball Championships at the Sports & Physical Education Centre (SPEC) of the St Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies.

The Trinidad and Tobago stars were so dominant that they shared seven of the nine individual awards after the tournament concluded on Sunday night with their team defeating fellow Caribbean powerhouses Barbados 25-18, 20-25, 25-17, 25-20 for the gold medal.

Both teams advanced to the penultimate stage of NORCECA qualifying early next year for the World Championships, which will be staged in Italy late in the year.

With both Clifford and Thompson deadlocked on three prizes apiece, Trinidad and Tobago Volleyball Federation president Daymian Stewart announced Thompson as the Most Valuable Player.

The 19-year-old Poland-based attacker was also voted Best Spiker, Best Server and Best Scorer of the two-day tournament.

Clifford, the dominant libero in the English-speaking Caribbean, picked up this award as well as the prizes for Best Digger and Best Receiver.

Their compatriot, Sinead Jack, who like Thompson is 19 years old and based in Poland, was voted Best Blocker. 

But Maria Elena Barahona prevented the four-time defending Caribbean champions from sweeping all nine individual awards when the Honduran was announced as the Best Setter.

Four countries competed in the tournament and Honduras whipped Anguilla for the bronze medal. The Anguillans did not win a set from their four matches, while Honduras beat Anguilla twice, but did not win a set from either Barbados or T&T. Six-time Caribbean champs Barbados beat both Anguilla and Honduras, but lost twice to the hosts, who were unbeaten from their four matches.

T&T were represented by the Poland-based trio of Jack, Thompson and skipper Krystle Esdelle, United States-based Samantha Prescott, Finland-based former national junior captain Darlene Ramdin as well as Abby Blackman, Renele Forde, Abigail Gloud, Andrea Kinsale, Rechez Lindsay, Clifford and Kelly Billingy, one of the leading players in the Caribbean for over a decade.

The five-time Caribbean champs were eliminated in the third and penultimate round of NORCECA qualifying for the previous World Championships, the 2010 edition in Japan. 

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