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Williams, Phillip avoid cellar spot in La Paz
T&T’s Daneil Williams and Marlon “Waldo” Phillip avoided the cellar position in the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA) Beach Volleyball season opening 12-team men’s tournament, courtesy a default win over Nicaraguans Ruben Mora and Danny Lopez, yesterday.
Earlier in the day, Williams and Phillip had a chance to advance to the playoff for positions ninth and tenth but were outplayed by USA’s Reid Priddy and Stafford Slick, 18-21, 11-12.
When the tournament served off on Friday, the T&T pair ended with a 0-2 Pool A record in La Paz State, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
This after Williams and Phillip were beaten by US Virgin Islands duo, Dillon Lesniak and Brian Kwasny 11-21, 19-21 and USA’s Jon Mesko and Skylar Del Sol 12-21, 17-21 before another defeat on Saturday versus the top Mexican pairing, Juan Virgin and Lombardo Ontiveros 8-21, 13-21.
The Mexicans are the all-time most successful players in NORCECA with Virgen having won 32 tournaments in the history of the circuit while Ontiveros has 18, all but one with Virgen.
Yesterday, in one semifinal, top-seeded Virgen and Ontiveros met compatriots Jose Rubio and Josue Gaxiola while Cubans Karell Pena and Daisel Quesada faced Skylar del Sol and Mesko in the other semifinal match.
The Olympians Virgen and Ontiveros were the first in qualifying to the Final Four phase with a 21-13, 21-17 victory over Michael Plantinga and Grant O’Gorman of Canada-A in front of their enthusiastic local fans.
Rubio and Gaxiola also dispatched Canadians Aaron Nusbaum and Ryan Vandenburg 21-12, 21-13.
Pena and Quesada achieved a 21-17, 21-15 victory against Brian Kwasny and Dillon Lesniak of US Virgin Islands while Mesko and Del Sol overcame Guatemala’s Andy Leonardo and Luis Garcia 16-21, 21-18, 15-9.
When the T&T Volleyball Federation held its qualifying tournament at Maracas Beach, on the North Coast eight days ago, Phillip combined with Josiah “Squirrel” Eccles for victory.
The pair of Kurt Edwards and Kareem Thomas ended second while Williams, playing with new partner Christian Francois in the absence of Fabien Whitfield, who is serving a ban, which he is challenging as well, were third-placed finishers.
However, by virtue of being the top-ranked player in the country, and with the opening NORCECA tournaments serving as qualifiers to the FIVB World Beach Volleyball Championship, an executive decision was taken to send Williams and Phillip, as both players must be ranked in the top 500 in the world, which they are.
Both, Williams and Phillip will also represent T&T at the second stop of this year’s tour in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands from April 20-24 where they will be joined by experienced duo, LaTeisha “Chucky” Joseph and Apphia Glasgow, also a national rugby player.
The energetic duo of Joseph and Glasgow, no strangers to the circuit, topped the local qualifiers ahead of the experienced Ayana Dyette and first time partner Delana Mitchell while another veteran pair, Rheeza Grant and Abby Blackman ended third.
In the inaugural event last year, the Cubans Nivaldo Diaz and Sergio Gonzalez took home the gold medals and top prize of US$3,000 in the men’s event while Canadians Julie Gordon and Brandie Wilkerson won the women’s competition and the same first place purse.
Diaz and Gonzalez swept the USA team of William Allen and Stafford Slick 21-15, 21-15 while compatriots Kelly Reeves and Allison Daley-McColloch succumbed to Gordon and Wilkerson, 19-21, 21-11, 15-10.
The American team of brothers Trevor and Taylor Crabb won the men’s bronze medals while Kimberly Dicello and Kendra Vanzwieten finished third among the women.
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