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T&T face Central Americans for spot in Italy
The senior women’s volleyball team will have almost three extra weeks to prepare for their hosting of the FIVB Women’s World Championship Fourth Round qualifiers to Italy after a decision was taken by NORCECA to push the competition dates back from June 2-9 to June 22-30.
And when the five-team competition gets going at the Central Regional Indoor Sports Arena, Saith Park, Chaguanas, the Kelly-Anne Billingy-led “Calypso Spikers” will do battle with Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua after all five teams were second-placed finishers in their respective Third Round groups from which the winners gained tickets to the World Championship carded for Italy in September.
In the five four-team groups played, Canada clinched the top spot in Pool S by beating Mexico; Puerto Rico overwhelmed Costa Rica in their Pool R decider; USA topped Panama in Pool O; in Pool P, the Dominican Republic crushed Nicaragua and Cuba’s 14-year-old Melissa Vargas smashed her way through to win MVP honours and led her team to win the Pool Q final.
It will be the second straight occasion that Billingy and her team-mates will be competing in a Fourth Round playoffs for a World Championship spot after missing a place in Japan during the 2010 qualifiers.
It was the second win in the tournament for T&T over the Barbados while locals also swept past Honduras and Anguilla in their round-robin matches.
Earlier this month in Cuba, T&T overcame Haiti and Curacao both in four-sets before losing to host Cuba, in their final round-robin match, and in the gold medal contest with a ticket to Italy at stake, both by 0–3 margins.
The other teams to qualify for the Women’s event in Italy are Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Croatia, Germany, Japan, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Russia, Serbia, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, as well as hosts Italy, thus far.
And for the Men’s Championship in Poland, USA, Canada, Cuba and Mexico have so far qualified from NORCECA while the final qualifying phase will be the NORCECA playoffs from July 16 to 19 in Puerto Rico for the men’s qualification.
The local men were third in their qualifying group behind host Canada and Costa Rica while the Fourth Round playoffs will feature the second-best teams from the qualifiers (Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico) next month for the final tickets to the World Championships.