Vincentian senior male volleyballers debut at continental championships
Today, September 26, is a historic day in St Vincent and the Grenadinesâ volleyball, when the menâs senior team step out on court at the Olympic Training Centre, Colorado Springs, USA, to face Mexico in Group C of the NORCECA Continental World Championship Qualification Tournament finals.
It is the first time that a senior Vincentian volleyball outfit is competing at this level.
After making their debut today, St Vincent and the Grenadines face Costa Rica tomorrow and are set to take on Martinique on Thursday.
Carrying the hopes of the Vincentian team, coached by Brian Burke, are eight of the nine players who trumped in the Eastern Caribbean Volleyball Association (ECVA) Group E finals in St Lucia last month.
The original captain, outside hitter Daryl Franklyn, was denied a US visa and was replaced by middle blocker Cluevvan Cumberbatch, as the teamâs captain. Asmond Franklyn is an outside hitter, with Ronaldo Franklyn and Delshun Welcome, the opposite hitters. Marcus Thomas, Kemaul Lee Deandre Quashie and Cluevvan Cumberbatch are the middle blockers, with Jahmal Small, the setter and Jad Martin, the libero.
In looking at the prospects of his charges, Burke underscored that they have nothing to lose, but much to gain.
âWe are going out on court to hone our volleyball skills, showcase our talents and take advantage of this golden opportunity that has presented itself to the youngsters, of which six are under the age of 20 yearsâ¦ We expect this tournament to transform the lives of these young men,â Burke declared.
Before heading to the USA, the Vincentian team made a stay over in Barbados to continue its training, inclusive of practice matches versus top Barbadian clubs.
While there, the Vincentians beat both Deacons and Charges, three sets to two.
But the intended 12-team final, has been reduced to 10, with Puerto Rico and Cuba unable to travel to the USA.
However, Cuba and Puerto Rico will compete in a separate four-team FIVB World Championship qualification tournament later this year.
The tournament will also include the fourth and fifth-placed teams at the NORCECA Menâs Continental Championship.
The revised grouping sees USA, Dominican Republic and Guatemala as part of Group A, while Canada, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago are in Group B.
The preliminary round matches for Group A and B will be played in the Main Competition Hall at Sports Center I.
Quarter-finals and seventh to 10th classification matches are scheduled for September 29. Semi-finals plus classification fifth to eighth and ninth-place matches will take place on September 30. The tournament concludes on October 1, with the medal matches, along with fifth and seventh-place matches.
Teams finishing first, second and third go straight to the FIVB World Championships, set for Bulgaria and Italy, September 10-30, 2018.
The fourth and fifth places will compete against Cuba and Puerto Rico for the other two places.
In total, NORCECA will have five entries into the 2018 FIVB Menâs World Championships.
Canada captured the 2015 NORCECA Menâs Continental Championships.