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Esdelle, Ross-Kydd impress for T&T as Calypso Spikers beat Haiti
Romania-based former captain, opposite Krystle Esdelle and middle-blocker Jalicia Ross-Kydd both had team-high 12 points each to lead four players in double-digits as T&T came from behind to demolish underdogs Haiti in four sets (3-1) in their Norceca Women’s World Championship Third Round Group Q Tournament Qualifier to the FIVB World Championship, yesterday.
Playing in the opening match of the four-team round-robin tournament at the Palacio De Los Deportes, Ciudad Deportiva, La Habana in Cuba, the “Calypso Spikers”, ranked 31st in the world and eighth in Norceca seemed to take their 27th ranked opponents for granted with coach, Cuban Francisco Cruz giving playing time to his reserves and went under 17-25.
However, with the inclusion of Esdelle from the second-set, T&T, the reigning five-time Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (Cazova) champion stepped up its game and with a much more aggressive approach steamrolled its opponents 25-3, 25-9, 25-12 in the next three sets for the comfortable win in one hour and 22 minutes.
The duo of Channon Thompson and captain Kelly-Anne Billingy, who celebrates her 28th birthday today added 10 points apiece while middle-blocker Sinead Jack got eight, Darlene Ramdin, six, Renele Forde six and, another opposite, Abby Blackman two points in the balanced attack for T&T.
The Haitians were no match for the taller and more athletic T&T women, who were a dominant force in attack with an advantage of 48-15 kills and 8-2 on service aces, while holding a narrow 9-7 dominance on blocks.
However, coach Cruz will not be happy with the 25 unforced errors committed by his team, which was two less than Haiti as he looks ahead to the rest of the tournament.
Speaking after the match, Billingy, one of nine members of the current squad who was on the team which narrowly missed out on qualifying for Japan in 2009 after finishing behind qualifiers Mexico and Costa Rica in the fourth and final round of qualification was pleased with the win, but was not happy with the slow start.
She said, “I think we started off too slowly, but as the match progressed we gradually got into gear and we will learn from this for our next match against Curacao.”
Asked what aspect of T&T’s game needed to improve, Billingy, a University of Marshall graduate and 14-year member of the senior team said, “Without a doubt we need to be much more aggressive from the first serve of the match and maintain our intensity.”
Looking ahead to T&T’s next match also from 3 pm today against Curacao, which it last played during the Cazova Championships in St Croix, US Virgin Islands in 2012, Cruz, who has been at the helm of the T&T team for the last eight years said his team will be better prepared as he has a much better idea of what to expect.
Tomorrow, the “Calypso Sipkers” will face host Cuba, in their final round-robin match at the end of which both teams are also expected to advance to Saturday’s gold medal contest from the group winner will qualify automatically to Italy.
NORCECA World Championship Qualifying Tournament
Remaining Women Group Q qualifying fixtures:
Venue: Palacio De Los Deportes, Ciudad Deportiva, La Habana, Cuba:
Today: T&T vs Curacao, 3 pm; Cuba vs Haiti, 5 pm
Tomorrow: Curacao vs Haiti, 3 pm; Cuba vs T&T, 5 pm
Saturday: Third vs Fourth; 3 pm; First vs Second, 5 pm