T&T senior women’s volleyball team, led by captain Jalicia Ross-Kydd, left early on Wednesday morning to contest the NORCECA Final Four International League Qualifiers to the qualifying competition to the FIVB Volleyball Challenge Cup (VCC), of the Volleyball Nation League.
The four-team tournament, which serves off a busy schedule for the ‘Calypso Spikers' takes place in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico from Friday (June 9) until Sunday, (June 11) at the Dolores Martinez Coliseum.
The tournament format will see T&T, host Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and the US Virgin Islands competing in a round-robin series at the end of which only the tournament winners will secure a ticket to the prestigious Volleyball Nations League formally call the FIVB Grand Prix.
Back in 2017, T&T under the supervision of coach, Cuban-born Francisco ‘Panchee’ Cruz, qualified for its first-ever appearance in the FIVB Grand Prix and competed against Australia, Cameroon and France at the then branded by Minister of Sport Darryl Smith the "Home for T&T Volleyball" at National Cycling Centre in Balmain, Couva.
In addition, other notable experienced members of the senior team include Germany-based Channon Thompson and former European-based captain Krystle Esdelle, while well-decorated player Kelly-Anne Billingy-Addison makes a return in a new role as the setter and along with former junior player Marina Camps.
Also included on the roster are USA-based university stand-outs Aaliyah Alexis, Tiana Murray-Lewis, Kaylon Cruikshank, and Destiny Leon along with newcomers Desiree Donald, Joanna Belmar, Shanice Cottoy, Cheyenne Chin Choy, and T&T Ms Universe representative Tya Jane Remy.
The team is coached by Saleem Ali, with his former men’s national teammate Sean Morrison serving as his assistant coach.
The team will be managed by Kamla Elcock, while referee Sheldon Sandiford and T&T Volleyball Federation (TTVF) president Daymian Stewart also travelled as head of the delegation.
President Stewart said he is going to Puerto Rico to seek assistance externally for the athletes and to acquire equipment to maintain T&T's highly ranked programmes.
Stewart said his organisation is struggling to put itself in proper order whilst maintaining the activities which have made T&T very proud on many occasions and continue to provide opportunities to young nationals.
The athletes raised funds to purchase their uniforms and the board negotiated a loan to purchase the tickets and cover registration to represent this country.
In addition to the Nations League qualifiers, the Calypso Spikers will also compete at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in San Salvador, El Salvador from July 1-9; the Senior Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) Championships in Paramaribo, Suriname from July 21-31; the Pan Americans Cup in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from August 4-14, and the NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship in Canada from August 24 to September 5.
According to Stewart, the national women’s team by their FIVB rankings have qualified for these events, with the retention of the Caribbean Championship the TTVF’s main priority as this tournament opens the pathway to all the other events.
He added, “Participation at the higher-level events, whilst winning is not realistic; valuable ranking points are earned, and our athletes gain opportunities for Professional Contracts and University Scholarships.”
Friday (June 9):
Costa Rica vs T&T, 6 pm
Puerto Rico vs US Virgin Islands, 8 pm
Saturday (June 10):
US Virgin Islands vs Costa Rica, 6 pm
Puerto Rico vs T&T, 8 pm
Sunday (June 11):
T&T vs US Virgin Islands, 6 pm
Puerto Rico vs Costa Rica, 8 pm