Nicaragua gets first victory


PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, July 18, 2014 -  Nicaragua defeated Panama 25-16, 24-26, 25-10, 25-19 to get off the mark in the NORCECA Playoff Volleyball Tournament Friday night at Sports & Physical Education Centre of the St Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies.


Costa Rica, Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago are other countries involved in the round-robin tournament until Sunday night and the winners will become the 24th and final team to qualify to compete in the Women’s World Championships in Italy from September 23-October 12.


The Panamanians, the lowest ranked of the quintet at No. 55 in the world, were not expected to make it to this stage and they are certainly now out of contention after suffering their third defeat from as many matches.


Nicaragua, also not expected to reach the playoff, have won one of two matches after a bye on Wednesday’s opening night and will definitely be the outsiders when they face tournament favourites Mexico and Costa Rica, respectively, in their final two encounters.


Panama’s captain Johanna Arroyo, who was the game’s leading scorer with 18 points, was in tears after the 94-minute contest and stated: “We gave the game to them. They wanted it more.”


Nicaragua coach Rene Quintana said: “The game was intense, we knew it was going to be tough. We had to give it all.”


Three of his players, Naomi Florelisa Smith (10) and Trans Lugo sisters, Hellen Mercedes (14) and Heidy Elizabeth (15) scored in double figures.