An under-strength T&T women’s volleyball team, ranked 31st in the world made a losing start to their Group A campaign at the 13th Pan American Volleyball Cup after going under Dominican Republic 12-25, 11-25, 16-25 at the Juan De La Barrera Gymnasium, Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday.


For the world eighth ranked Dominican Republic Yonkaira Peña had a match high with 15 points, followed by veteran Annerys Vargas and captain Bethania De la Cruz with nine and eight points respectively while Brayelin Martinez added six and Candida Arias, five in the straight sets win.


On the other side of the net, T&T which was without Jalicia Ross-Kydd, Sinead Jack and Channon Thompson had a team-high eight points while captain Krystle Esdelle and Darlene Ramdin chipped in with six points apiece.


It was dominant showing by Dominican Republic against the reigning five-time Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association champions as it dominated 35-21 on spikes, 10-4 on blocks and 3-2 on aces while committing only 12 errors to T&T’s 27.


In the other Pool A matches, Canada defeated Peru 25-18, 26-24, 23-25, 25-20 and a very youthful Cuba dominated Mexico 25-19, 25-17, 25-21.


At the Carlos Martinez Balmori Multi-purpose Hall in Pachuca, Hildago in Pool B, two-time defending champions, USA overcame Costa Rica 25-19, 25-19, 30-28 and Argentina battled past 25-14, 25-22, 28-26 while the match between Costa Rica and Brazil was not played due to the latter’s late arrival.


Last night, T&T came up against Canada in its second match while today it faces Peru from 4 pm followed by Cuba tomorrow at 4 pm as well and Mexico on Sunday night from 8 pm to end round-robin play.


The tournament in Mexico, comes less than a month T&T ended second to Cuba in their FIVB Women’s World Championship NORCECA Third Round qualifiers to Italy last month in La Habana, Cuba and will serve as preparations for the Fourth and final round of FIVB World qualifiers at Central Regional Indoor Sports Arena, Chaguanas, involving Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua, from June 22-30.


The winners of each of the pool at the end of the round-robin series will qualify straight to the semifinals while the second and third placed teams will meet in cross-over quarterfinals ahead of the semifinals and final.


This year marks the eight straight year T&T is participating at the Pan American Cup with its best-ever finish—tenth for the past five years—after being 12th, both in 2007 and 2008.


Last year, defending champions USA swept past Dominican Republic 25-12, 25-20, 25-18 to capture the gold medal in Lima, Peru.


With the win, USA became only the second country to successfully defend its throne in the history of the intercontinental event, joining Cuba who won consecutive titles in 2004 and 2005.


The gold medal was their third tying with Brazil in second place behind Cuba’s four while Dominican had to settle for their sixth silver medal to go with two gold and three bronze medals.



Women’s Pan American Cup Podiums


Today’s matches:



Group A:
Venue: Juan De La Barrera Gymnasium, Mexico City, City:
4 pm: T&T vs Peru
6 pm: Cuba vs Canada
8 pm: Mexico vs Dominican Republic



Group B:
4 pm:  Puerto Rico vs USA
6 pm: Costa Rica vs Colombia
8 pm: Brazil vs Argentina




Group A:
4 pm: T&T vs Cuba
6 pm: Peru vs Dominican Republic 
8 pm: Mexico vs Canada




Group B:
4 pm: Colombia vs Argentina
6 pm: Brazil vs Puerto Rico
8 pm: Costa Riva vs USA