Three zones integrated as qualifiers set to spike off


WILLEMSTAD, Curacao, May 10, 2013 -  Just over five months after hosting the eighth and final first round series, Group A of the NORCECA FIVB Men’s World Championship qualifiers, Curacao will play host to the first of six second round Women’s World Championship four-team qualifiers, Group J on May 11-12 at the International School of Curacao Auditorium, Willemstad.


In addition to the host country Curacao, St Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, as well as Belize are the other countries who will be involved in the two days of what is expected to be very competitive and entertaining competition.


Over the two days, the four teams will first contest a round-robin series to be concluded on Sunday morning after which the top two will battle it out for the gold medal, having both already qualified for the third round of qualification as finalists.


The third placed team will also have a chance of qualifying to the third round, but will do so as the top third place finisher.


Speaking prior to the holding of the Preliminary Meeting of the participating teams, Mushtaque Mohammed, head of the Control Committee and president of the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) was quick to point out that this will be the first tournament for the women in the second round and NORCECA was more excited to see how it evolves with the integration of all the three different zones, CAZOVA, ECVA and the Central American Volleyball Association (AFECAVOL).


Mohammed added, “We can’t predict the outcome of this group because this is the first time these teams will be meeting each other, and this is all part of NORCECA’s Developmental plan.


"To have all the zones integrated during the World Championship qualifiers is giving us that opportunity which the participating countries are all happy about, no matter the outcome of their tournaments.


Eric Ogenia, president of the Curacao Volleyball Federation was quick to state his federation was extremely happy to be given the opportunity to host yet another round of qualifiers even during its current lack of finances.


Ogenia explained, “For us in Curacao it is much easier for us as the host country whereby we will have some financial assistance from NORCECA, while if we were to travel to another country to compete at this moment it would have been a serious challenge on us to get the funding to do as we don’t have the support of Government in that way".


“In addition, our men’s team is due to travel next week for its second round of qualifiers and for us to try and send two teams away at the same time would have been another burden on our federation.


“However, Aruba will be hosting the men’s qualifiers and it will not cost as much to get our team there so we are happy for that also.


“That said, we are expected a very well run tournament as we had with the men last December as we will be using the same venue which is tournament ready”, added Ogenia.


With regards to his own national team Ogenia was adamant that his women’s team must go after the gold medal.


“Once the women play to their true potential I see no reason why our women can’t qualify from the group as the winner.”


Ogenia said his team will be banking on the play of three key players in USA-based Christine Anthony, Netherlands-based Neysa Hoi and middle-blocker Lianne Van Beek.


Anthony plies her trade with the University of North Carolina and is coming off an impressive season after being named ‘Most Valuable Player” of their first round qualifying series in St Croix last year while Hoi was also part of the team and played a pivotal role in their qualification to the second round.


Van Beek, on the other hand was not part of the team in the previous round and her inclusion is expected to boost her team’s chances.