New ideas are constantly being tried in international volleyball. Take the last Men’s Under-23 World Championships for example, where sets were reduced from 25 to 15 points. This change is still being evaluated and is yet to receive the official seal of approval.
Meanwhile, the final competitive of event of the year for Cuba’s national squad will be the North, Central America and the Caribbean (Norceca) regional tournament set to take place in Colorado Springs, the United States, during the last week of September. The competition will be the final opportunity for regional teams to qualify for the 2018 World Championships and where several new changes will be tested.
Sets will be played the customary 25 points, but in order for team coaches to have closer contact with their players during matches, the “restriction line,” 1.75 meters from the court sideline, will be eliminated. Of course coaches will still be prohibited from entering the court, or having physical contact with players.
In order to facilitate communication between players and their coach, the warm-up zone, which is currently located several meters behind the court, will experience a “move.” In Colorado Springs, the new zone, measuring three square meters, will be located directly behind the second row of benches. Take note, when I say “second row of benches” because this is another change that will be seen in the upcoming Norceca competition; replacing the current bench arrangement.
Likewise, instead of receiving balls from the ball boys and girls at the point of serve, players will now retrieve the ball from the sidelines themselves.
A SPECIAL COMPETITION
During the Colorado Springs competition, taking place September 26 through October 1, the top two teams with the best results from the qualifying round will advance directly to the semifinals.
Then a play-off will take place between the third best team and three second place squads, to fill the remaining semifinal spots.
The majority of the Cuban team is composed of players who won silver and bronze in the Under-21 and Under-23 Championships respectively. It also features, attacker Javier Jiménez, center Liván Osoria, libero Yonder García, and opposite Dariel Albo.
In preparation for the competition, the team will play several away matches against the Dominican Republic September 14-21.
The Norceca tournament will also be an opportunity to assess the least experienced players’ form. During the competition, the Cuban squad will not only be aiming to secure one of the five spots up for grabs to the 2018 Men’s World Championships, but do so with decisive wins over tough rivals such as the United States, Canada, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.
The fact that visiting teams will be playing in the U.S. national squad’s home city, will lend a special dimension to the Colorado Springs competition, while the U.S. Volleyball Federation has also expressed its desire to strengthen ties with Cuba, efforts which gave rise to the two friendly matches played in Havana, last year, with the U.S. team winning on both occasions.
MORE INTERNATIONAL CONTRACTS
The process of signing a contract between Cuban player Miguel David Gutiérrez and the Italian club Ravenna, is almost complete; while the opposite attacker should start competing with the team next season, according to the President of Cuba’s Volleyball Federation, Ariel Saínz, speaking to Granma.
The director also noted that Miguel David is expected to leave for Italy in October, while another 12 players are set to compete in Argentina.