Martinique Wins Classic to Qualify
SANTA CRUZ, Aruba, November 27, 2016: Martinique saved two match points en route to winning a five-set thriller and securing the final promotion place in the second round of the CAZOVA qualifying series for the 2018 FIVB Women’s World Volleyball Championship.
The lowest ranked of the four teams in the Group B round-robin tournament, nosed out Haiti 17-25, 25-19, 25-23, 23-25, 16-14 in a pulsating contest which has to go down as a classic.
After being ahead for the majority of the deciding set, Martinique lost four straight points with a 12-10 lead to find themselves staring down the barrel of two match points. However the 12th ranked team in the CAZOVA responded in tremendous fashion to capture the last four and claim a sensational victory in two hours and 24 minutes.
Martinique had won three straight points from 20-22 down in the previous set to come within two points of advancing from the third and final first-round qualifying tournament in the zone. However, the 7th-ranked Haitians reeled off the last three points to force the only five-setter of this two-day tournament.
After both teams had lost to Suriname in straight sets and recovered miraculously to defeat Aruba, Haiti seemed well on the way to the next phase when the completely dominated the first set of the do-or-die contest. Martinique was, however, a completely different outfit when they answered the bell for the second set and both teams kept the fans riveted to their seats until the final whistle.
Coach Rene Melinard stated, “it was a final for Martinique; we came here for qualification and we did it.” Martinique's captain, Soraya Yazza, confessed, “it was a very difficult match mentally and we are very happy.”
Haiti's captain expressed that the many errors made cost them the match. Haiti's coach, Jean Michel Frederic, stated, “unfortunately we could not have closed it out when we had the match points, but that is competition.”
The lowest ranked team will join the highest in the second round as Suriname, rated fourth in CAZOVA, won the tournament even before taking the court for the last match against Aruba.
Curacao and United States Virgin Islands (USVI) advanced from Group A in St Croix in early August while Guadeloupe and Bahamas booked their tickets two weeks ago in Grand Cayman from Group C.
The second round will take place in July 2017 and will also include automatic qualifiers Trinidad and Tobago and hosts Jamaica, ranked first and second in CAZOVA, respectively.
The next edition of the Women’s World Championship will be contested in Japan in 2018 and NORCECA will have six qualifiers plus the defending champions, the United States.