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Cuba sweeps Calypso Spikers for bronze

Tuesday, May 22, 2018
T&T’s senior women’s volleyball team libero, Afesha Olton, makes a dive for the ball in an attempt to keep alive a play while team-mates (from left) Taija Thomas (#10), Kelly-Anne Billingy (#4) and Channon Thompson during their bronze medal match versus Cuba at the inaugural NORCECA Women’s Challenge Cup at the Edmonton Expo Centre Hall D, in Edmonton, Alberta Canada on Sunday night. Cuba won 25-18, 25-17, 25-13.

T&T’s senior women’s volleyballers missed out on a podium finish at the inaugural Norceca Women’s Challenge Cup after a 0-3 (18-25, 17-25, 13-25) loss to Cuba at the Edmonton Expo Centre Hall D, in Alberta Canada on Sunday night.

Playing without the services of the Turkish-based duo of middle-blocker Sinead Jack and Krystle Esdelle, the “Calypso Spikers”, led by Sweden-based Renele Forde, were faced with an uphill task against the Cubans who showed more poise and executed when they needed to.

In the end, the Cubans, led by the scoring of Regla Gracia Gonzalez with 13, Diaris Perez Ramos (12) and Sulian Linares (11), secured a well-earned victory in 66 minutes to take home the bronze medals.

Meanwhile, T&T got a match-high 16 points from Philippines-based Darlene Ramdin (Generika-Ayala Lifesavers) while Channon Thompson who played the first half of the year with Turkey’s Ankara Amune before joining Philippines’ Grand Prix Super League bronze winners Foton Tornadoes, chipped in with 11.

The team, coached by Francisco “Panchee” Cruz, was outscored 31-44 on spikes; 3-6 on blocks and 1-6 on service aces.

The T&T squad, which was competing together for the first time this season since earning an FIVB World Championship ticket on home soil last October, also committed 19 unforced errors as compared to the Cubans, 13.

Commenting after the loss, Cruz said he was not pleased with the performance of his team

He said: “It went very bad. The players weren’t doing what I was indicating. Maybe they had too much pressure on them today (Sunday). I cannot explain, I will need to analyse because there is not a relationship between this game and other games we have had”.

The T&T coach indicated that his players may have been intimidated by having to play Cuba, which was a force to be reckoned with in the past, but now going through a transitional stage.
“Other teams had a higher level and the Cubans don’t have that level, so maybe it was just the name. I am not happy with the result.”

Forde added,“The game definitely didn’t go our way today. We had a lot of issues in terms of our organisation on the court. Our defence didn’t come in today (Sunday), our blocking was inconsistent and we generally had hoped for a better result.”

The loss was the second in as many matches for T&T at the tournament which was originally expected to be comprised of six teams, but for the late withdrawal of Costa Rice due to travelling issues.

Puerto Rico took the gold medal with a thrilling 22-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-27, 15-8 defeat of Canada led by Daly Santana with a whopping 30 points and qualify to the FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

The T&T women were expected to return home last night and will resume preparations for a go after an eighth CAZOVA overall title in Suriname from June 28 to July 5 to be closely followed by the 12-team 17th Women Pan American Cup in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic from July 6 to 15.

A few days later, the team will jet off to the 23rd Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Colombia from July 20 to August 3.

In the women’s CAC Games Indoor, T&T will compete at its fourth straight CAC Games and will battle with host Colombia, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica in Pool B while champions Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela will compete in Pool A.

T&T women will then make their debut at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship in Japan from September 29 to October 20 where they will face defending champions and world second-ranked USA, as well as fifth-ranked Russia among their five matches at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship First Round Pool C group of the 24-team tournament which will be contested across six cities.

T&T, which has a world ranking of 34, will also battle tenth-ranked South Korea, Thailand (#16), and Azerbaijan (#24) at the Kobe Green Arena.

Ramdin cops First Outside Hitter award

T&T’s Darlene Ramdin was named as the ‘First Outside Hitter’ awardee when the inaugural NORCECA Women’s Challenge Cup ended at the Edmonton Expo Centre Hall D, in Edmonton, Alberta Canada on Sunday night.

Ramdin’s award was the lone one won by a T&T player as the seven-time Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) champions ended fourth of five teams after a loss to Cuba in the bronze medal match.

Puerto Rican libero Shara Venegas who was named “Best Libero” and “Best Digger”, was selected as the “Most Valuable Player” of the competition.

The defence of Venegas was considered a key for the victory of Puerto Rico in the five-set contest against host Canada to define the champions of the tournament.

Daly Santana also of Puerto Rico was selected as the “Best Scorer” after landing 30 points in the gold medal match while team-mates Raymariely Santos and Shirley Ferrer were named “Best Setter” and “Best Opposite” respectively.

Canada’s two middle-blockers Alicia Ogoms and Jennifer Cross were included in the All-Star team as well as Cuba’s Emily Borrell who was recognized as “Best Receiver” and her compatriots Sulian Matienzo “Best Server” and Diaris Perez “Second Outside Hitter”.


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