The beach volleyball courts at Public Beach seemed relatively quiet now that Norceca had moved onto its next stop on the Beach Volleyball Tour. Many of the teams that competed in Cayman went on to play in Nicaragua the following weekend on May 4th & 5th. Meanwhile Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation opted to skip that stop, because they wanted to give the women’s team adequate time to regroup and reevaluate their tactics before leaving for Cuba on May 9th. Ileann Powery and Stefania Gandolfi’s are no strangers to Cuba, as they had the privilege of playing in Cuba and Mexico during the 2018 tour, making this their third stop as a team.
The ladies first game was in the midday heat on Friday, May 10th against Team Canada’s May and Lenarduzzi, to whom they lost to in two straight sets 21- 10 and 21-9. Powery and Gandolfi took the time between games to strategize and scout out their next opponents. Their tactics were strong going into the first set against El Savador’s Vasquez and Vargas, because they only narrowly lost with by 21-17.Unfortunately they didn’t manage to make it to a third set because they were defeated 21-9. Despite their track record from the previous day, Gandolfi and Powery took to the courts on May 11th revitalized and raring to go. They quickly took the first set against Jamaica 21-12, but they couldn’t keep the momentum up in the second set, losing 13-21. Smith and Wright fought hard in the 3 set, but Powery and Gandolfi kept up with them point for point. In the end, the Cayman’s women’s team fell short by two points with a loss of 17-19. With it all said and done the women played their last game in bottom bracket again Cost Rica, and that third loss sealed their fate in 13th place.
There is no doubt that every competition is a learning experience for the athletes, and there are numerous benefits of sending our athletes to compete in these Norceca stops. “For starters, the exposure to some of the top teams from surrounding countries allows them to improve their game. In addition, the teams earn points each time they compete in a stop, which are needed to improve our ranking in order to attend some of the higher caliber events such as Pan Am Games.” explained Technical Director, Javid Ali. Powery also took away some valuable lessons from the experience as she elaborated: “Cuba was a challenging experience when it pertains to the factors that affect beach volleyball game play. The winds were very strong, but my teammate and I tried our best to adjust and use it to our advantage. This trip also reassured my desire to want to better my game and hopefully win games going forward.” The next stop for this duo will be Island Games, but until then we can look forward to watching as Cristin Alexander-Bruton, Chante Smith, Nathan Dack, and Richard Campbell take on the competition in La Paz, Mexico on June 8th, 2019.