Daneil Williams and Simon Blake won a “Golden Set” 15-7 over Nicaraguans Ruben Mora and Danny Lopez as T&T men’s beach volleyball team kept alive their dream of an Olympic Games appearance with a 3-2 round-of-16 win when the double-elimination 12-team NORCECA Continental Cup Finals served off yesterday.
Playing in hot and humid conditions in the final phase of NORCECA Continental qualification to the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, T&T found itself trailing 0-1 when Mora and Lopez defeated T&T-B duo, Christian Francois and Colin Bernard, 21-11, 21-14.
However, Williams and Blake (T&T-A) quickly leveled the series at 1-1 when they swept past Gerson Contreras and Denis Lopez 21-10, 21-9.
Contreras and Lopez redeemed themselves by beating Francois and Bernard 21-13, 21-17 to put the Central Americans back ahead 2-1, but Williams and Blake kept T&T alive by beating Mora and Lopez 21-12, 18-21, 15-9, before overcoming the same pair in the one-set clash to set up a last-eight meeting with host Mexico last night..
In the other round-of-16 matches St Lucia stunned Guatemala 3-2 via the “Golden Set” and Costa Rica blanked Suriname 3-0 and US Virgin Islands defeated El Salvador, 3-1.
With USA having qualified two men’s teams to the Olympics, the focus of the competition turns to Canada (one team qualified), Mexico (one team qualified) and Cuba.
Only the winners of the final will qualify to the Olympics while the second and third place teams in both genders will be entitled to play in the FIVB World Continental Cup, which will provide two final slots to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
However, top ranked local women’s pair, Ayana Dyette and Malika Davidson was surprisingly beaten in a “Golden Set” by Barbadians Shari Matthews and Anicia Woods 12-15 to miss out on a quarterfinal spot.
The loss for T&T-A’s Dyette and Davidson was the first of the day for the Diego Martin-born duo and ended their Olympic hopes after they defeated veterans Sharon Bovell and Anthazia Mason 21-12, 21-7 to get T&T level at 1-1, and then Matthews and Wood, 21-15, 21-14 to draw even again at 2-2.
This after T&T-B pair, Rheeza Grant and Abby Blackman, came up short in their two matches, 22-24, 23-25 against Matthews and Wood, and then 6-21, 17-21 versus Bovell and Mason.
In other round-of-16 ties, Jamaica won its all-CAZOVA tie with Suriname 3-1 after going down 1-0; Nicaragua swept past St Lucia 3-0 and El Salvador and Cayman Islands edged El Salvador 3-2 in “Golden Set”.
The Cubans are favorites to take the lone Olympic spot available but face stiff competition from Costa Rica and hosts Mexico with powerhouses USA and Canada both having already qualified the maximum of two teams per country to the Olympics through the FIVB Olympic Ranking.