It sizzles

shadiasimpson, shadiasimpson@nationnews.com

Added 04 November 2012

anthaziamason

A REDUCED FIELD of 14 teams – more than 20 were expected – and scaled down prize money did not affect the intensity of play when the Barbados Sunsplash Sizzlin’ Sands beach volleyball tournament blasted off at Brandon’s Beach yesterday. Eight women’s and six men’s teams signed up for weekend action but none of the eight teams expected from Trinidad and Tobago showed up. The absence of the republic’s Fabien Whitfield and Simon Blake means that 2011 runners up Elwyn Oxley and Gregory Gill are the favourites and should face  their stiffest opposition from Jamaican Mark Lewis  and Bajan Daran Gill.   Oxley is returning from a serious shoulder injury but he and his partner cruised through Pool C beating Lewis and Gill 21-19, 21-16 and Shaquille Barker and Ramon Inniss 21-8, 21-11.   Gill and Lewis placed second in the pool defeating Barker and Inniss 21-12, 21-17. The second-ranked pair of Kengie Matthews and Winston Gittens took Pool D by stopping Barbados’ top pair of Omar Sealey and Curtis Gaskin at 16 and 20, and Chinua Benjamin and Jason Hendy at 14 and 16. Sealey and Gaskin rebounded by stopping Benjamin and Hendy 21-15, 21-11. Matthews and Pieper dominated Pool A, easily crushing Lisa Austin and Lauren Whitehall 21-6, 21-9 and Talya Layne and Shennel Pooler 21-7, 21-12.   Women’s champions Shari Matthews and Canadian partner Leila Pieper will likely face some challenges from Canadian duo Karen Sutherland and Maxine James who placed second last year. Sutherland and James kept on course for today’s play-offs by thumping Kandia Shorey and Faith Trotman at 11 and ten, and Nicole Austin  and Kim Beckles at ten and nine. The action will intensify from ten this morning  with teams looking to advance through the next round  to meet in finals in the evening. (KB)

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