“Our loss is the country’s gain.”
So said Anglican Bishop Claude Berkley about the nomination of Justice Paula-Mae Weekes as the sixth President of T&T.
T&T senior women’s volleyballers dubbed the “Calypso Spikers” will face defending champions and world second ranked USA as well as fifth ranked Russia among their five matches in their 2018 Japan FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship First Round Pool C group of the 24-team tournament.
The FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Japan 2018 will take place from September 29 to October 20 next year across six cities.
This was determined when the draw was made in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday.
Prior to the start of yesterday’s draw, hosts Japan, ranked sixth in the world and the other top seven ranked teams in the competition were assigned to pools in accordance with the serpentine system, and in accordance with the competition regulations and the FIVB World Ranking.
This meant, Japan and Netherlands (#8), were in Pool A; Pool B comprised China and Italy (#7); Pool C consisted of USA (#2) and Russia (#5); and Serbia (#3) and Brazil were in Pool D.
The 16 remaining teams were also placed in four pots with T&T, Cuba, Mexico and Keyna in Pot Four; Dominican Republic, South Korea, Argentina and Turkey in Pot One; Germany, Puerto Rico, Thailand and Bulgaria in Pot Two, while Cameroon, Canada, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan comprised in Pot Three.
And following the completion of the 16-team draw, the world 34th ranked T&T coached by Cuban-born Francisco “Panchee” Cruz was drawn in Pool C with USA, Russia, tenth ranked South Korea, Thailand (#16), and Azerbaijan (#24) and will play their round one matches, at the Kobe Green Arena.
Hosts Japan, winners of the competition three times were paired with the Netherlands, Argentina, Germany, Cameroon, Mexico in Pool A at the Yokohama Arena; reigning Olympic champions and number one ranked China, two-time winners, and Italy will take on Turkey, Bulgaria, Canada, three-time champions Cuba in Pool B at the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Centre in Sapporo , while Pool D will include Serbia, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Kazakhstan, Kenya at the Hamamatsu Arena.
Commenting on the draw, Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) president and former T&T Volleyball Federation boss, Mushatque Mohammed said T&T has been placed in a very difficult group, and will have to target Azerbaijan and Thailand as the teams to beat to finish among the top four to get to the second round.
Two months ago at the National Cycling Centre, in Couva, the Calypso Spikers secured a historic first ever qualification to the World Championship in Japan when they ended second to Mexico in a four-team NORCECA Continental Women’s Pool C Qualifiers with a 2-1 record.
In the four-team qualifiers, T&T led by Krystle Esdelle defeated both Dominica and Costa Rica before falling to round-robin winners Mexico to complete the line-up of seven qualifiers from the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA).
The qualification to Japan followed on the heels of the then Renele Forde-led team debut at the FIVB Women’s World Grand Prix in July in Mexico and then securing a sixth straight and seventh overall Senior Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) in Jamaica
At the end of the first round of competition, the top four teams in each group will advance to the second round which will comprise of two groups of eight teams each to be played in Nagoya and Osaka from October 7 to 11.
The third phase of play will consist of the top three teams from both pools and they will see action in Nagoya from October from the 14 to 16 respectively.
The competition will climax with the top two teams in each three-team groups advancing to the semifinals in Yokohama on October 19 ahead of the finals and third placed playoff the following day.
FIVB POOL DRAWS
Pool A (Yokohama Arena) : #6 Japan (host), #8 Netherlands, #11 Argentina, #13 Germany, #18 Cameroon, #26 Mexico
Pool B (Sapporo): #1 China, #7 Italy, #12 Turkey, #17 Bulgaria, #19 Canada, #25 Cuba
Pool C (Kobe Green Arena): #2 USA, #5 Russia, #10 South Korea, #16 Thailand, #24 Azerbaijan, #34 T&T
Pool D (Hamamatsu Arena): #3 Serbia, #4 Brazil, #9 Dominican Republic, #13 Puerto Rico, #21 Kazakhstan, #33 Kenya