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Calypso Spikers fall to Canada in Challenge Cup
T&T’s senior women’s volleyballers suffered a 25-12, 25-16, 25-22 loss to host Canada in their Pool A opener of the five-team inaugural NORCECA Women’s Challenge Cup at the Edmonton Expo Centre Hall D, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on Thursday night.
Playing their first match since qualifying for the FIVB Women’s World Championship on home soil last October, the T&T women, minus key duo, Turkey-based duo, middle-blocker Sinead Jack (Galatasaray) and Krystle Esdelle (Pursaklar Beleyidesi), and led by Sweden-based Renele Forde (Svedala), were heavy underdogs against the Canadians.
And from set one, Canada looked more organised than the seven-time Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) champions and sealed the win in one hour and 12 minutes.
The third set saw a much better fight from the T&T women led by the Philippines-based pair of Channon Thompson (Foton Tornadoes) and Darlene Ramdin (Generika-Ayala Lifesavers).
In the end, the Canadians showed their superiority and dominated in all key aspects of the match, which included a 39-27 edge on spikes, 10-7 on blocks, and 4-2 on blocks.
With this being their first match together the Francisco ‘Panchee’ Cruz-coached T&T women, were expectedly guilty of committing a number of errors, 22 to be exact as compared to Canada’s 14.
Cruz, who has been at the helm of the Calypso Spikers women’s team for more than a decade said: “The game was acceptable. We lost two players who are unable to play, and that is a problem within the organisation.”
With regards to the team’s display Cruz said, “Finally, in the last set we started to come together and for me, everything was good. We have some new players, and I don’t do any substitutions because we have eight experienced players and the rest are young.”
Cruz added, “Out of the eight, two aren’t playing and this is the problem. Some players played today (Thursday) in other positions and I suppose, because this is the first match, that in the second match they will play better.”
For the NORCECA fifth-ranked host who got a point from nine of their 12 players, Alexa Lea Gray was the top contributor with 15 points, 13 of which were kills while Marie-Alex Belanger had eight and Kyla Richey, seven. The trio of Jennifer Cross (six), Shaniah Joseph (five) and Alicia Perrin (five) also assisted to the home team’s straight sets win.
On the other side of the net, Ramdin and Thompson, the latter of whom only arrived in Canada on Tuesday, both got 11 points, laced with eight and nine kills respectively.
Canada-based Taija Thomas added four and the trio of Jalicia Ross-Kydd, Kelly-Ann Billingy and Forde chipped in with three points each.
Forde said: “We’ve all been playing abroad and we haven’t been able to practice together. I’m okay with the result in terms of how we fought and how we tried to compete. I’m sure Canada has been practicing for some time together, and they have everything they need, which is a difference between our team and them.”
In the first match of the Cup, Puerto Rico swept Nicaragua 25-15, 25-15, 25-11.
Yesterday, T&T was expected to play a must-win match versus Costa Rica, however, the latter failed to arrive for the event due to travel issues. This means, T&T ended as second-placed finishers and will contest the bronze medal match tomorrow from 6 pm against the second-placed team from Pool B, Cuba or Puerto Rico.
However, tonight from 9 pm the T&T women will meet Canada in an exhibition clash. The winners of each pool will face off in tomorrow’s final from 9 pm from which the champion team will qualify for the FIVB Volleyball Nations League Challenge Cup Finals while the two group runners-up meet for bronze.
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