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Krystle Esdelle, captain of the T&T women’s volleyball dubbed the “Calypso Spikers,” says her team is ready for battle in the four-team North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (Norceca) Second Round Group I qualifiers which serves off at the University of the West Indies Sports and Physical Educational Centre (SPEC) from tomorrow until Sunday from 9 am daily.
The two-day tournament featuring the reigning five-time Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (Cazova) champions and seventh Norceca-ranked T&T, six-time Cazova winners and 13th-ranked Barbados, Honduras (18th) and Anguilla (22nd), is a qualifier to next year’s FIVB Women’s World Championship in Italy and will be contested on a round-robin basis at the end of which the top two will advance to the final as well as the next phase of qualification.
This will mark the second time T&T will be hosting a Women’s World Championship Qualifying Tournament having done so in 2009 at the same venue where T&T played and won its Second Round qualifying Group C series involving Netherlands Antilles, US Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Suriname and Aruba to qualify for the Third Round on the road to Tokyo.
In the Third Round, which was hosted and and won by Cuba, the “Calypso Spikers” ended second, ahead of Nicaragua and Guatemala, to reach the four-team play-offs among second-placed teams from which two qualified for the World Championship.
In the end, Canada and Costa Rica were the two teams to qualify ahead of Mexico and cellar-placed T&T.
Since then the local women’s team has grown significantly in stature. Speaking ahead the Group I qualifiers, Esdelle, who plies her trade professionally in Poland, said the team was keenly looking forward to the matches as they wanted to go further than before and qualify for Italy.
“For this qualifying group, our main goal is to win all our matches and advance to the next round as group winners and with just a few days to go before we start play we are continuing to work as hard as we can despite some of the injuries, a lack of training facilities and time.”
With regards to the practice sessions, Esdelle, who has also played professionally in France and Germany, said coming back home to play in front of their home crowd as a national team for the first time in almost three years has got the girls pumped up.
“A lot of the girls have been playing abroad and now getting that chance to play in front our home crowd for the first time since 2009, we all want to show how we have developed as players while achieving our target of getting to the next round of qualification towards the World Championships in Italy.”
Looking ahead to the tournament, the T&T captain said she expected all the teams to come with their best.
She added, "In the group we are the top-ranked team and have also won the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association title on the past four occasions so we expect the teams to bring their 'A-Game,’ but we will be ready.