Volleyball: FIVB World Championships qualifiers – Africa zone 7, games three-Tough wins for Seychelles


Sunday’s two matches at the Palais des Sports lasted a combined 3 hours 55 minutes and the Mauritians, especially the men’s team, came close to earning a victory.

Coached by former international Melchior Miniopoo, the Mauritians finally lost the five-setter after 2 hours 15 minutes of play, proving that Seychelles have to improve for the second phase of the zone seven qualifiers in Mauritius if they are to join the other 11 second-stage winners in the pool phase to vie for one of the three tickets to Poland for the men’s world champs.

Having won the first two games in straight sets – 3-0 (25-23, 25-13, 25-19) on Friday and 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-19) on Saturday – the Seychelles men’s team, coached by James Camille, who led them to winning a second Indian Ocean Island Games gold medal in 2011 after a first title win in 1993, were pushed to the limit before winning the match 3-2 (25-22, 20-25, 25-21, 26-28, 15-13) against a Mauritian side boasting five players below 23 years old.

Seychelles’ youngest player is rapid attacker Rodney Ah-kong who plays for Rennes Volley 35 in the French Pro A, and the oldest being libero Perrin Sophola at 43 years old and who was a member of the two IOIG gold medal-winning sides in 1993 and 2011. Sophola has also represented Seychelles at six IOIG – in 1990 in Madagascar, in 1993 and 2011 in Seychelles, in 1998 in Reunion, in 2003 in Mauritius and in 2007 in Madagascar.

Sunday’s women’s match was also the longest of the three and Seychelles, under head coach Nichol Lesperance, still won 3-1 (25-22, 25-21, 20-25, 25-16) to maintain their domination over Mauritius after also winning game one on Friday 3-1 (22-25, 25-20, 25-14, 25-18) and game two on Saturday 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-21).

Petra Richard (no. 11) one of Seychelles’ brightest young volleyball talents

Among the new faces of the Seychelles team is Petra Richard, who being the tallest at 1.87 metres and youngest at 18 years old, can become of the country’s top rapid attackers if given the right training and opportunity to play at the highest level.

Mauritius on the other hand, have eight players below 23 years old and coach Lindsay Wilson told Sports Nation that the more experienced players who did not make the trip to Seychelles will be available for selection ahead of the second stage of the qualifiers in Mauritius.

The zone seven second stage winners will join 11 other teams from Africa – one from zone 1 and two from zones 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 – where they will be drawn into two pools of six. The two pool winners will represent Africa at the women’s World Championships which will be contested by 24 teams in Italy.

G. G.