Women’s NORCECA Third-Round Pool O looks set to be dominated by the United States
Colorado Springs, United States, May 14, 2014 - The United States are considered favourites going into the Women’s NORCECA World Championship Third-Round Pool O Qualification Tournament being held May 15-18 at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
The United States, who are ranked second in the world, are hosting Guatemala, Honduras and Panama. The pool winner will progress to the 24-team FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship taking place from September 23 to October 12 in six Italian cities. The United States bypassed the first two rounds of the NORCECA qualification process based on their ranking. Guatemala and Panama each won their second-round groups to advance to this week’s third round, while Honduras finished as the highest ranked third-place team to move to the third round.
The second-place team in Pool O, along with the other four second-place teams in the third-round pools, will compete in a final playoff from June 2-9 in Trinidad and Tobago. The playoff will determine which team wins NORCECA’s sixth and final spot in the World Championships.
The Women’s World Championships are held every four years. A total of 141 national federations, including 36 from NORCECA, have participated in the qualification process.
Guatemala Head Coach David Aldana believes his more experienced players could play a key role. “For the last five months we have not had much preparation, just training with our men’s team and not much match preparation. Among the teams of Guatemala, Honduras and Panama, I see our team as the top team. We have five very experienced players and this should help us. We are looking to finish second and advance to the final playoff round.”
Honduras Team Manager José Ubaldo said: “Our number one goal is to qualify for the World Championships. We expect strong competition from Panama and Guatemala. We know the US are way ahead of the others technically and tactically. We realize playing with USA is a way to get more experience against the best in the world. We went to Trinidad and Tobago and we feel we did well finishing third. All these qualifiers have provided us with new vision on how far behind we are and the need to grow to become one of the best teams. The fact we are located in a very strong region with USA, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and others is very limiting. But playing with the big ones will make us a big one eventually.”
Panama Head Coach Reynaldo Ortega emphasised the importance of training. “We have been in training for six months. We are working on our power and jumping skills. We know we are facing three very tall teams who play fast games. We are going to try to use our blocking versus their fast attacks.”
The tournament is a new experience for United States Head Coach David Hunt. “This team is young, but they have put in a lot of work over the winter. They are hungry to play against competition other than themselves in Red-Blue scrimmages. For a lot of these players, this is their first chance to play for USA at the senior international level. This is my first tournament serving as a head coach, I am probably just as excited as they are and I am really excited for this group.”