Setting up for success

Cayman’s volleyball scene has come along well of late.

The outdoor version of the game recently held a major tournament at Seven Mile Beach. Meanwhile the indoor type has held high-profile local competitions.

Now volleyball makes another step up the sporting ladder with its participation in the 2009 Island Games.

The Games take place in Aland, near Finland this year with Cayman taking part as usual. Some of Cayman’s best athletes will compete in a number of disciplines including basketball and volleyball.

Like the other teams Cayman is sending the volleyball squad has been practicing heavily. The current group has been together for the last few years and have practiced for the last five months.

The side has trained at the Sir Vassel Johnson Multipurpose Hall at the University College of the Cayman Islands Mondays to Thursdays from 5:30pm.

During its training sessions the team has done a variety of drills focusing on returning, setting, serving and spiking.

The team is lead by player/coach Shervin Rankin. Arguably Cayman’s most technically sound player, Rankin recently gained critical acclaim for his play at the 2009 North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation Beach Circuit tournament in March.

His partner for that event was Olney ‘OT’ Thompson, who is also a member of the national volleyball team. Thompson brings over 15 years of experience playing the sport.

Some 12 people constitute the team, with 10 making the trek across the Atlantic. Some of the notable names include local sportsman Richard Campbell, George Miller, Fareed Hosein (a non-travelling reserve) and flag football star Kevin Solomon.

Solomon spoke about the type of team Cayman is sending this year.

‘The team right now has a few veterans who have played at least ten years. There are also some newer players who have played for fun for years but are recently getting into the competitive side of things.’

As Solomon states the Cayman team has spent time working out the kinks.

‘The team’s points of emphasis this year are passing and serve reception. They are not focused on a lot and are a weakness of the local scene. The serve reception is the most fundamental part of the game because if you don’t receive well you can’t get the offense going.

‘This small technical area of the game makes a big difference and when we go we want to be prepared for any kind of serve, whether it’s a jump or float serve.’

Ultimately Solomon feels the Cayman team can nab a spot on the podium.

‘We have enough good players that understand the game and can play well. We have a good chance of going all the way and not only medalling but winning the whole thing.’