This Christmas holiday for former national Under-20 midfielder Xavier Rajpaul will be like none other.
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T&T vball men off to Continental qualifiers
The core group of players in the 14-member T&T senior men’s volleyball squad for the 2017 NORCECA Senior Men’s Volleyball Continental Championship, a qualifier to the FIVB World Championship will depart for the Olympic Training Centre, in Colorado Springs, Denver, USA today.
Yesterday, team manager Kairon Serrette and Newton Grant, one of the 13 players left for Denver and will be joined later today by 12 other players and three other members of technical staff headed by coach Sean Morrison.
However, there is some uncertainty over the availability of middle-blocker Russell Pena for the start of the competition on Tuesday against Costa Rica, as he is yet to receive his passport from the US Embassy, after a late submission.
And with tomorrow being a holiday, Pena will only be able to collect his travelling documents on Tuesday, after which new travelling arrangements will have to be made if possible.
At the 12-team competition, T&T, the three-time reigning Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) champions after reclaiming the crown on home soil in July at the National Cycling Centre in Balmain, Couva will come up against host and world second ranked USA, who are eight-time competition winners, Costa Rica and CAZOVA runner-up Martinique in Pool A round-robin play.
Pool B will feature Dominican Republic, Canada, Puerto Rico and Eastern Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (ECVA) runner-up St Vincent and The Grenadines while Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala and ECVA champions, St Lucia square off in Pool C at both the competition main hall and training centre.
In Colorado, the round-robin phase in each group will run from Tuesday September 26 to 28 at the end of which, the two best pool winners will advance automatically to the semifinals on September 30.
The third best pool winner along with the three second placed teams will face off in quarter-finals on September 29 at the end of which the two winners will complete the semifinal line-up and secure four of the five places up for grabs to he 2018 FIVB World Championship in Bulgaria and Italy.
The fifth and final qualifier will have it the hardest to earn as they must force contest the seventh to tenth semifinal classification matches for the best fourth placed team and the three third placed pool finishers.
From there the two winners will meet the losers of the main draw quarter-finals, with the winners of those matches, meeting for fifth and the final ticket to Italy and Bulgaria.
For the Continental Championship, USA, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico qualified automatically while Guatemala and Dominican Republic earned their spots from the Central American (AFECAVOL) qualifiers.
Enrique Harry, Akim Bushe, Marlon Phillip, Kameron Donald, Daneil Williams, Mikheil Hoyte, Ryan Stewart (captain), Adriel Roberts, Joshua Mohammed, Brandon Legall, Marc-Anthony Anthony, Kevin Nimrod, Newton Grant, Russell Pena