TRINIDAD and Tobago's Sinead Jack collected the most prestigious individual award that a player from the English-speaking Caribbean has ever received in the sport of volleyball.
After helping her team finish a best-ever ninth place in the Women's Pan American Cup, the Trinidad and Tobago Volleyball Federation's Player of the Year 2015 was voted Best Middle Blocker during the closing ceremony on Saturday night in Peru.
Turkey-based Jack, who first played in this tournament six years ago as a 17-year-old, had actually been the recipient of the previous most treasured individual prize when she captured the same title (Best Middle Blocker) in the NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) Championship in 2013.
Fellow 23-year-old teammate Channon Thompson, the game's leading scorer three times in the tournament, including the straight-set victory over Chile last Wednesday, and Brandon Legall are the only other players from this country to pick up NORCECA individual awards, but both prizes came at junior level.
In a battle of four-time champions for the gold medal on Saturday night, the United States dethroned Dominican Republic 25-19, 19-25-20, 25-23 to become the most successful nation in the tournament with five titles.
The North Americans had also beaten the Caribbean women for their first crown in the second edition in 2003, but their other four titles have come in the last six years.
Dominican Republic finished on top in the other two years during this period (‘14 and last year) after previously being crowned in ‘08 and ‘10.
However they are way out front in the silver-medal department, finishing runners-up on as many as eight occasions.
Cuba have also captured the title four times, but the victories occurred during the first six editions and it has been ten years since their players stood at the top of the podium.
The Central Americans ended up fifth on this occasion with a 25-19, 23-25, 25-17, 25-22 triumph over Canada, while the Puerto Ricans, who had stunned the United States in the semifinals last year and pushed the Dominican Republic to five games in the final, defeated Peru 25-22, 13-25, 27-25, 25-15 for the bronze medal.
Colombia had beaten Argentina in five sets for seventh place first up on Saturday, the day after T&T had taken down Venezuela in four to finish one place higher than they did last year.
Mexico avoided the cellar 12th spot with a straight-set victory over Chile.
The top six countries from NORCECA — United, States, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Canada and T&T — and the top three from South America — Peru, Colombia and Argentina — qualified for next year's World Grand Prix.
Last year T&T had become the first country from the English-speaking Caribbean to book a place in the most prestigious tournament after the Olympic Games and World Championships and they will make their Grand Prix debut in ten days in Mexico.
The six-time champions will go after their sixth consecutive title in the biennial Caribbean Championships late next month in Jamaica.
Source: Daily Express, June 27, 2017.
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