CI teams back from NORCECA beach tournaments

Illean Powery

The Cayman Islands National Beach Volleyball team returned to Cayman on 30 April after competing in three back-to-back tournaments in the 2018 NORCECA Continental Beach Volleyball Tour.

The Cayman National team ended last year’s NORCECA tournament season with overall rank rankings of 13th for the women and 16th for the men.

This year both teams have started the season with tournament finishes that should put them well on their way to finishing this season with higher rankings than last year. For the three tournaments the Cayman team just completed, the women finished 10th, 12th and 13th respectively, and the men finished 15th, 14th, and 12th.

The NORCECA rankings are also important because they put Cayman in a better position to receive the required bids to compete in other higher level competitions such as the Caribbean and Central American (CAC) Games, PanAm Games and the Olympics.

“Most of the players on the National Team are new, inexperienced, have had limited access to coaching, and despite those challenges they performed much better than expected and grew from strength to strength,” said CIVF Technical Director Kevin Solomon.

He said the Federation is very proud of how well the players represented Cayman.

Nathan Dak

This year’s NORCECA series started in Aguascalientes, Mexico on April 12th. After three days of competition, the Cayman women’s team, represented by Marissa Harrison and Ileann Powery finished in 10th place after being defeated by Nicaragua in a close two set match that finished 19-21 in the first set and 17-21 in the second set.

Harrison and Powery defeated the US Virgin Islands on day two of the tournament after falling in pool play to the Mexico 1 team and the top seeded Cuba. The men’s team of Casey Santamaria and Jesse Parham, who was making his National Team debut, finished in 15th place after losing their final match on day two to Guatemala.

Tour stop number two took the Cayman team to La Paz, Mexico where Powery was joined by Stefania Gandolfi and Parham was joined by Nathan Dack.

The tournament which began on 19 April would see the women finish in 12th place after losing their final match in two sets to the US Virgin Islands. The day before, Powery and Gandolfi defeated Guatemala after losing in pool play to Mexico, USA and the US Virgin Islands who they fought in a tough match that went to three sets. The Cayman men finished in 14th place after losing their final match to St. Kitts and Nevis with scores of 16-21 and 14-21. They were defeated in pool by the number two seed Canada, and the Dominican Republic.

The final tour stop for the series was in Varadero, Cuba and began on 26 April. The women’s pair of Gandolfi and Powery were joined by two Cayman men’s teams; Parham and Santamaria who had competed together in the first stop in Mexico, and Dack and Roy Ebanks, another National Team newcomer. Gandolfi and Powery finished the Cuba tour stop in 13th place after losing their final match to the Dominican Republic. Parham and Santamaria finished 14th place and Dack and Ebanks finished in 12th place.

Casey Santamaria goes up for the spike.

CIVF President Kennedy McGowan said he was very proud of the national team’s performance in the three tournaments. “There have been a lot of new pairings and new players added to the team’s lineup and we’re excited to see the level of enthusiasm and camaraderie displayed by the entire team,” he said.

“As the pairs start to play together more consistently and get more tournaments under their belts, we expect to see the number of wins increase but for now, it’s about rebuilding and improving,” McGowan added.

He also said that with the launch of the CIVF Youth Programme one year ago, the focus of the federation is increasingly on bringing younger players in to the national team that can be the foundation for a sustainable and increasingly deeper pipeline of young players.

As it currently stands, the youngest members of the national team are Jesse Parham, Roy Ebanks, Ileann Powery and Marissa Harrison. “All four players have a deep love of the sport and are showing great potential for success and improving Cayman’s international standings on the NORCECA circuit and beyond,” McGowan said.

Next up for the national team is the CAC Games in Colombia in July and two more NORCECA tournaments, one in the Dominican Republic in September and another in Jamaica in November.

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