Tuesday, January 16, 2018

‘Worlds’ dream virtually over for T&T men

 TRINIDAD and Tobago’s dream of qualifying for the Men’s World Volleyball Championships virtually ended with a heart-breaking defeat in Canada on Friday.

After being in front after the first and third sets, the Caribbean players were nosed out 17-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-18, 15-13 after over two hours of pulsating action by Costa Rica in the opening Group Q match of the NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) third round qualifying event for the World Championships.

The Canada, 11th ranked team in the world, are virtually certain to win the group and book tickets to “Worlds”, which will be contested in Poland from August 20-September 21.   

The other three teams started this tournament hoping to finish runners-up and get into the tournament with the second-placed teams of the other three NORCECA groups.

This competition will take place in the middle of July in either Mexico or Puerto Rico and the winner will claim the fifth and final place from this region in the World Championships.

But after Friday’s defeat, the T&T players, who began this competition at this level because of their high NORCECA ranking (No. 8), may now need a miracle to get any further.

Top beach volleyball player Simon Blake led the way 19 points, while the Europe-based Ryan Stewart and Marc Honore contributed 16 and 15 points, respectively, in the losing cause.

Richard Smith Hall was the game’s leading scorer with 26 points.

In Friday’s second match, the Canadians cruised past Panama 25-17, 25-12, 25-18.

T&T tackled the hosts after press time last night and will conclude their campaign in the round-robin stage against Panama today.

This country’s women opposed their hosts Cuba yesterday for a place in the World Championships. The loser of this contest still has a chance as the second-placed teams from all five groups in the third round of qualifying will take place in Trinidad from June 2-9 and the winner will earn the fifth and final NORCECA spot.

The Women’s World Championships will take place in Italy for September 23, two days after the conclusion of the men’s version.