Mal Pais, Costa Rica, February 8, 2012 – Teams from 10 countries representing Central America (Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua) and the Caribbean (Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Curacao, Jamaica and Cayman islands) will battle from February 10 to 12 at the NORCECA Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Women’s Inter Zonal tournament, the penultimate phase of the qualifying process for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Costa Rica's chances at the NORCECA Women's Inter Zonal Continental Cup rely heavily on the shoulders of Ingrid Morales (r) and Natalia Alfaro
Starting on Friday, El Salvador meet Cayman Islands while Nicaragua take on Jamaica in the first series of a double-elimination competition which will see the top four in the standings moving on to the finals against teams from the Central Region from June 19 to 24 in Nayarit, Mexico.
Barbados and hosts Costa Rica, the top ranked teams, will play the winners of those best-of-five series in a second round that also features contests between Panama and Curacao as well as Trinidad and Tobago and Guatemala.
"We are anticipating a very exciting competition as teams are really hungry for the chance to compete in the final stage of the tournament,” Arnaldo Sanchez, technical director said on Wednesday after arriving in Mal Pais the previous night. “It has been a long process for some of these teams, especially those from the Caribbean who have survived two zonal tournaments before getting here.”
The experienced duo of Ingrid Morales and Natalia Alfaro (Costa Rica A), bronze medallists in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico during last year’s NORCECA Circuit, were the first to arrive in Mal Pais, a surfers’ paradise located on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
Most of the teams are expected to arrive late Wednesday and early Thursday.
Morales and Alfaro helped Costa Rica clinch first place in the Central America Zonal Tournament when they won their two matches over the teams of Panama last year at Montelimar, Nicaragua.
“We are very optimistic about our chances of claiming the first place playing at home,” Morales said. “We have been training hard in preparation for this event and it is great to welcome all the teams taking part in the competition.”
Barbados’ teams of Anthazia Mason and Shari Matthews and Sharon Bovell and Mona Crawford are fresh from two three-set victories over Trinidad and Tobago last December in the Cayman Islands to claim the top position among the countries from the Caribbean region.
Cuba, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico claimed the top four places of the Central Zone at last year’s zonal event held in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic.
The NORCECA Control Committee held a joint-meeting with the local organisers on Wednesday to review all details before 28 matches across three different courts begin on Friday morning.
The Control Committee is led by Marta Centeno de Sajche as NORCECA delegate, Sanchez as technical director, Miguel Ramirez, referee manager, Bienvenido Mateo, BVIS delegate and Roosevelt Comarazamy, press delegate.
Caribbean Zone Teams
Barbados A (Anthazia Mason/Shari Mathews), Barbados B (Sharon Bovell/Mona Crawford), Cayman Islands A (Jennifer Bily/Cristin Alexander), Cayman Islands B (Taylor Burrowes/Stefania Gandolfi), Curacao A (Samira Luis/Christine Anthony), Curacao B (Kionna Gregorius/Christal Gregorius), Jamaica A (Cherine Richards/Cheryl Daley), Jamaica B (Tsahai Williams/Nardarake Hutchinson), Trinidad and Tobago A (Ayana Dyette/Elki Phillip), Trinidad and Tobago B (Pauline Woodroffe/Malika Charles).
Central America Teams
Costa Rica A (Ingrid Morales/Natalia Alfaro), Costa Rica B (Ivette Alas/Marianela Alfaro), El Salvador A (Diana Romero/Marcela Avalos), El Salvador B (Nadia Soler/Laura Molina), Guatemala A (Susana Alvarado/Anna Ramírez), Guatemala B (Rut Gómez/Stefany Bolaños), Nicaragua A (Amalia Hernández/Lolette Rodríguez), Nicaragua B (Elia Torrez/Swan Mendoza), Panamá A (Katherine Tajú/Jazmín Rojas), Panamá B (Carina Corella/Dionelys Delgado).