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Guatemala beats T&T for bronze
T&T senior men’s volleyballers squandered a first set win and fell to a 25-20, 28-30, 21-25, 20-25 loss to Guatemala in a virtual third place battle in the Norceca Men’s Challenger Cup at the November 19 Pavilion, Pinar del Rio, Cuba on Saturday night.
With the loss, T&T ended with a 1-3 record after getting a lone win over Costa Rica while Guatemala ended 2-2 to trail Puerto Rico (3-1) and champions Cuba (4-0) who clinched the lone ticket available to the FIVB 2019 League of Nations qualifying World Final.
Playing in Saturday’s early match, T&T, the three-time Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) champions started aggressively and won the first set.
The second went almost a similar pattern until the end when the Central American champions tied at 23 and overcame the more physically fit looking T&T team to come away with a 30-28 win and even the match at one-set all.
The second set win raised the passions in the Guatemalans, who never lost the initiative in the clash that lasted almost two hours as they came out victorious in the next two sets, despite T&T, which was without injured setter, Kameron Donald, getting a tournament- best 24 points from competition “Best Scorer,” captain Ryan Stewart, who enjoyed a brief stint in France a few years ago.
Marlon Phillip and former Finland-based Akim Bushe chipped in with 14 and 13 points respectively while Kwesi Daniel added nine, and USA-based Mikheil Hoyte, six for T&T who were with the services of two key players for the tournament in Portugal-based Marc-Anthony Honore and last CAZOVA Championship “Most Valuable Player” Brandon Legall.
Outside hitter, Carlos López was the backbone of his squad with 20 points, the only one to add double digits while Wagner Chacón got nine and Brandon Chinchilla, seven.
Despite the defeat, T&T dominated their opponents on spikes, 48-36, blocks 18-5 and service aces, 3-1.
However, the Sean Morrison- coached team committed too many errors, (48-25) which was key in the loss. Stewart said his team had been working well until the middle of the second set before they lost focus and made many mistakes.
He added: “In addition, the player who replaced our setter who was injured in the previous game was also injured and that new change was very difficult.
We did a good job, but I think we reacted very late.”
Morrison echoed the views of Stewart and also highlighted the fact that his team was missing two very key players who were not with the team.
He said, “today (Saturday) the best team won, we made a lot of mistakes, the loss of the second passer affected us too much, it was very difficult for my men to catch up, but I am very satisfied with all the work they have done in the tournament, despite the fact that we do not have two important players.”
In the night’s feature match, Cuba defeated Costa Rica 25- 13, 25-16, 25-16 to complete a 4-0 record and the top spot in the five-team competition.
The top scorer of the match was the opposite Miguel Ángel López (15), the only Cuban to play in a club in Italy, followed by the new attacker Marlon Yang (11), while for the Central Americans the one in double digits was also the opposite Gilberth Solano ( 13).
T&T, CAZOVA winners in 2010, 2014 and 2017, returned home yesterday and will resume preparations for the 23rd Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Barranquilla, Colombia ( July 20 - August 3); the 13th Pan American Cup in Veracruz, Mexico (August 12-20); and the defense of their CAZOVA Men’s Championship in Suriname (August 4 – 11) later this week.
Stewart, Mohammed, Daniel pick up Norceca awards The T&T trio of captain Ryan Stewart, Joshua Mohammed and Kwesi Daniel all picked up individual awards at the awards ceremony.
Stewart was named the “Best Scorer” after he tallied 60 points over his four matches, six ahead of Guatemala’s Carlos Lopez Santiago while Mohammed copped two awards, “Best Libero” and “Best Receiver”, and Daniel, the “First Best Blocker”.
The trio joined Portugal- based “Marc-Anthony Honore as the only T&T men’s players to have captured Norceca Tournament individual accolades while Sinead Jack and Darlene Ramdin have accomplished the feat among the national women’s players.
Cuban Miguel David Gutiérrez, of the champion team, was selected the “Most Valuable Player” and Best Opposite while. Gutierrez, one of the six Cuban players inserted in professional leagues, was the third best scorer with 48 points (36 in attack, seven blocks and five service).
The “Best Spikers” were Eddie Rivera of Puerto Rico, and Carlos F. López, of Guatemala while the other “Best Blocker” was Liván Osoria of Cuba.
The “Best Server” awards net to Puerto Rican Eddie Rivera;”Best Digger” Costa Rican Luis G. Chávez and the “Best Setter,” Adrián Goide of Cuba.
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