Spikefest will serve local stars

Local players have more than a slight chance to succeed at the 2013 Cayman Airways Spikefest competition.

The indoor volleyball showcase is scheduled for this weekend, Nov. 8-10, at the University College of the Cayman Islands multipurpose hall. Organized by the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation, the event is in its seventh year and after a brief hiatus, 2013 will mark its fourth consecutive edition.

Tournament director Fareed Hosein said the Cayman Islands should uphold the usual high standards.

“The Cayman teams have a very good chance to win in both genders this year,” Hosein said. “Who will be playing for Cayman? The usual suspects, all of the main players will be taking part and there will be two Caymanian teams per gender. Cayman has done quite well in the past and the competition is at a high level.”

Over the years, Cayman has featured male players like Kennedy McGowan, Martin Bodden and Keith Higgins with notable beach talents such as Richard Campbell, Shervin Rankin and Olney “OT” Thompson also storming the court. On the women’s side, Eleanor Berry, Jessica Wolfenden and Stefania Gandolfi have excelled. All are typically aligned to local clubs with names like Cayman Sunsets, Cayman All Stars and Upsetters.

Cayman players will compete at UCCI’s Sir Vassel Johnson Hall this weekend from 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 8, with the finals taking place from 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 10. Admission is free. Players from Jamaica, Bahamas, the United States, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago will be flying down to face local talent.

Spikefest usually attracts teams from around the region. Last year, the Caribbean All Stars won the men’s title, while Venus, representing the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, was the women’s champions. A number of talents that excel in regional beach tournaments have competed here, such as Jamaica’s Donovan Richards and Kamille Dwyer and Renaldo Knowles of the Bahamas.

An interesting twist this year will be the inclusion of beach volleyball into the event proceedings. The federation has planned a one-day tournament at Royal Palms for those participating in Spikefest on the Remembrance Day holiday. Matches will run 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 11.

The holiday showcase will mark the federation’s second notable beach competition in recent weeks, after the inaugural Big Dig tournament took place in mid-October and attracted more than 10 teams in a variety of colorful costumes.