TRINIDAD and Tobago has been selected to host the first leg of the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (COZOVA) men’s beach qualifying tournament for next year’s Olympic Games in Brazil.
The tournament is scheduled to take place from May 7-11, a week after the women’s opening leg is completed in Jamaica.
Fourteen countries are expected to participate and the top four male and female pairs will advance to the second stage, which will take place a few months later at venues to be determined.
The Trinidad and Tobago Volleyball Federation staged five tournaments over three consecutive weekends recently to select the two male and two female pairs to fly the red, white and black flag in the opening qualifying legs.
Fabian Whitfield and Daniel Williams was the outstanding tandem as they won all five tournaments without dropping a set.
Finishing a distant second to secure the other spot were youngsters Abraham Eccles and Tevin Joseph.
It will be the first time for Eccles in national colours, but Joseph and Tarandath Deonath competed in the first three legs of last year’s NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) Beach Tour and went on to participate in the World Under-23 Championships in Poland in June.
The women’s qualifying series was very competitive as the photo-finish camera was needed to determine the winners and the third-place team of Elki Philip and Shenelle Gordon did not finish too far back.
The Ayana Dyette/Nancy Joseph and Apphia Glasgow/La Teisha Joseph combinations each won two tournaments to earn the right to compete in the first leg of the Olympic qualifier.
But youngsters Glasgow and Joseph were declared winners of the series as they had the better overall ratio—winning 31 sets and losing 14—than the veterans, who won 28 sets and lost 13.
After winning all nine tournaments they contested at home last season, Joseph and Dyette were not at their best, but they would have still won the series had they not been defaulted in their first match of the second tournament when the latter had a work commitment.
It cost last year’s Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games quarterfinalists tickets to the first tournament of this year’s NORCECA Tour as Glasgow and Joseph will compete alongside Williams and Whitfield from April 24-26 in Cayman Islands.
Whitfield and Williams secured this country’s only NORCECA medal when they picked up bronze in the home leg of the 2012 circuit.
There will be three rounds of Olympic qualifying in this region and just one male and female pair from COZOVA will be in Rio de Janeiro in August next year.