Caribbean champs off to flying start in ‘Worlds’ qualifier

TRINIDAD and Tobago recovered from a sluggish start to trounce Haiti in Cuba yesterday in the opening Group Q match in the third round of NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) qualifying for the Women’s World Volleyball Championships.

After losing the first set 25-17, the five-time Caribbean champions roared back to prevail 25-3, 25-9, 25-12. Led for the first time in a few years by Kelly Billingy, a fixture on the national team for over a decade, the T&T girls will oppose Curacao at 3 p.m. today and conclude the round-robin phase of the competition against hosts and favourite Cuba at 5 p.m. tomorrow.

The top two teams will clash the following day for a place in the World Championships in Italy in September and the Cubans and T&T, winners of the last four editions of the Caribbean Championships, are expected to be in this showdown.

However the runner-up as well as as the second-placed teams in the other four groups in the third round of NORCECA qualifying will square off for another place from June 2-9 in Trinidad. This country’s men have also reached the third round of qualifying and will be competing against Costa Rica, Panama and hosts Canada from tomorrow for a place in the World Championships in Poland from the end of August.

The second-placed team from this and the other three groups will also get another opportunity to advance as they are scheduled to do battle in either Mexico or Puerto Rico for the final NORCECA spot. No team from the English-speaking Caribbean has ever qualified for the World Championships.