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V-ball men face P/Rico in Challenge Cup opener
T&T senior men’s volleyball team will serve off its international season today when it comes up against joint tournament favourite Puerto Rico from 3.30 pm in the five-team NORCECA Men Challenge Cup, a continental qualifying event carded for Pinar del Rio, Cuba.
The other teams who will contest the tournament in Tierra Vuelta Bajera are host Cuba, Costa Rica and Guatemala from which the winner will earn a ticket to the World Final Cup that will award a spot to next year’s Nations League. Mexico was expected to compete as well but declined the invitation.
Led by coach Sean Morrison and captain Ryan Stewart, the 12-member T&T contingent left here on Sunday morning for Cuba. The reigning Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) champion after capturing the title for a third time overall (2010, 2014 & 2017), and second on home soil last year, will be without the services of Portugal-based Marc-Anthony Honore and Brandon Legall.
Morrison explained that Honore came off a very long season with SL Benfica in which they were beaten in the Portugal A-1 Division final by Sporting CP in the best-of-five series, 3-2, while his team also captured the Portugal Cup and were quarterfinalist in their European club exploits as well.
He said, “We agreed for Marc (Honore) to get some rest and rejoin the team for the remaining tournaments inclusive of the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, 13th Pan American Cup in Veracruz, Mexico and CAZOVA Championship.”
With respect to Legall, Morrison explained that with the current high level of crime, Police Officer Legall, who was voted as the “Most Valuable Player” in leading T&T to the regional crown last year had some difficulty in getting time off at this point in time but like Honore, he will hopefully rejoin the team at the end of June.
Looking ahead to Cuba, the T&T coach said he was satisfied with the blend of youth and experience in the team as they are aiming at developing the younger athletes.
Stewart also led the team to the CAZOVA crown last year and will have the familiar faces of Kwesi Daniel, Akim Bushe, Marlon Phillip, Daneil Williams, libero Joshua Mohammed, Newton Grant, setter Kameron Daniel and USA-based pair, Adriel Roberts (Charleston University), and Mikheil Hoyte in the squad in addition to Nicholas Prescott and Daynte Stewart.
Tomorrow, T&T faces Costa Rica followed by Cuba on Thursday and Guatemala on Saturday to end round-robin play.
The tournament is the first for the T&T players since the NORCECA Senior Men Continental Championships in Colorado Springs, last October and will be followed by the 23rd CAC Games in Barranquilla, Colombia (July 20-August 3); 13th Pan American Cup in Veracruz, Mexico (August 12-20) and finally, the defense of their CAZOVA Men’s Championship in Suriname (August 4-11).
For next year’s Challenger Cup of NORCECA, only four teams will attend by gender and not six as this year’s format, as it was proposed by Cuban Ariel Sainz, president of the Sports Organisation Commission, and which was approved by the Executive Committee and the Board of Administration of NORCECA.
The four teams will be the top-ranked teams –not qualified to the FIVB League of Nations 2019- according to the NORCECA rankings as of January 1 every year and the teams will compete under a round-robin format.
Nicholas Prescott, Daynte Stewart, Kwesi Daniel, Adriel Roberts (Charleston University), Mikheil Hoyte, Akim Bushe, Marlon Phillip, Daneil Williams, Ryan Stewart (captain), Joshua Mohammed (libero), Newton Grant, Kameron Donald (setter).
Puerto Rico vs T&T, 3.30 pm
Cuba vs Guatemala, 5.30 pm
T&T vs Costa Rica, 3.30 pm
Guatemala vs Puerto Rico, 5.30 pm
Puerto Rico vs Costa Rica, 3.30 pm
Cuba vs T&T, 5.30 pm
Costa Rica vs Guatemala, 3.30 pm
Cuba vs Puerto Rico, 5.30 pm
T&T vs Guatemala, 3.30 pm
Cuba vs Costa Rica, 5.30 pm
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