IN a preview of their battle for a place in the Women’s World Volleyball Championships, Cuba defeated Trinidad and Tobago at home in straight sets on Friday.
Both teams had won their previous two matches and the 25-15, 25-16, 26-24 victory ensured that the hosts finished on top of Group Q in the third round of NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) qualifying for the World Championships.
But the slate was wiped clean yesterday when the two teams squared off again with much more at stage.
The winners of that contest qualified for “Worlds”, to take place in Italy from September 23, but it would not have been the end of the road for the runners-up.
There will be a tournament from June 2-9 in Trinidad for second-placed teams of all five groups involved in the third round of qualifying in the region and the winners will secure the fifth and final NORCECA spot in the World Championships.
But five-time Caribbean champs T&T were hoping to shock regional powerhouses Cuba for the first time yesterday and avoid having to come home and endure another serious battle for qualification.
No details of this crucial encounter had come to hand by press time last night.
That match was preceded by a clash between Curacao and Haiti for third place. Curacao had been triumphant 25-16, 25-20, 25-15 when they squared off the day before in their final group match.
T&T’s men are also involved in the third round of qualifying for the World Championships. Costa Rica, Panama and hosts Canada are the other teams in Group Q and the winners will qualify tomorrow for “Worlds”.
The runners-up of all four groups will do battle for the fifth and final NORCECA place in Mexico or Puerto Rico in the middle of July.
The Men’s World Championships will take place in Poland from August 20-September 21.
No team from the English-speaking Caribbean has ever qualified for the World Championships.