Jamaica taught us new lessons

Cayman got its first real test for the next generation of female volleyball stars.

The Cayman Islands would go 0-4 during the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation Group E First Round Tournament of the 2014 Fédération Internationale de Volleyball Women’s World Championship.

Cayman head coach Keith Higgins states in spite of the result, the ladies have a promising future.

“The team is very young and we got closer to what I expected from the period of time that we’ve been training,” Higgins said. “We are rebuilding volleyball in the Cayman Islands, that is why our team is a very young one. I’m expecting good things of them.”

Cayman lost the third place playoff game to Aruba 0-3 (18-25, 11-25, 13-25) at the University of Technology Auditorium in Kingston, Jamaica. As a result, the Dutch nation clinched a spot in the second round of qualifying next year. Joining them would be tournament winners Jamaica and Barbados.

Cayman fielded a young and inexperienced squad with some ladies from the youth ranks. The team captain was Anita Lansdell and the top player was Chante Smith-Johnson, 15. Lansdell summed up her team’s performance. “We’ve improved during the tournament so we must keep working on the basics,” Lansdell said. “We are trying to work on our fundamentals. We are hoping to build as each game goes by; we have been practicing together for several months so things are improving.” Heading into the tournament, Jamaica and Barbados were seeded 12th and 13th in the NORCECA rankings while Aruba and Cayman shared the 30th position.

The tournament marks the second time in two months that Aruba defeated Cayman in world championship qualifying.

Back in October, the Papamiento crew edged out the men’s team in Frank Sound. That fact is especially painful for Higgins, who coached the men.

It figures to be a growing process for the women indoors, with established stars Cristin Alexander and Jennifer Bily focusing on beach triumphs. Nevertheless, Higgins states the local ladies are on the right track.

“We played very well against a more experienced team than ours in Jamaica.

Against Barbados, the result wasn’t as good as against Jamaica but the team is growing, their defence improved, there were less errors in our serves but we must work on our blocking.

“We have to stay focused, as I said before we are rebuilding. The team is young and they also have to learn how to win.”

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