Young spikers target Puerto Rico

Two of Cayman’s best junior volleyball talents are competing in Puerto Rico.

Ileann Powery and Chante Smith-Johnson will be representing the Cayman Islands at the final North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation beach volleyball qualifier this weekend in Carolina on April 12-13. The boys and girls competition has two berths at stake, per gender, for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China this August.

The Cayman girls will face 11 other countries: Antigua, Canada, El Salvador, Grenada, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Suriname and the United States Virgin Islands. On the boys side, the competing countries are Bahamas, Barbados, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Preliminary pool play is on Saturday with the top two from the four groups advancing to the single elimination draw on Sunday. The teams reaching the semifinals secure tickets to Nanjing.

Powery and Smith-Johnson are familiar with Suriname and the Virgin Islands, having played both in last November’s Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association qualifier in Maracas Beach, Trinidad. Cayman lost to Sigourney Kame and Cabriella Bouterse of Suriname, beat Dinaja Dowdy and Shanice James of the Virgin Islands before losing the consolation final to Barbados, which went on to the second round of qualification.

Puerto Rican Volleyball Federation President Nelson Perez Cruz said he was pleased to have the tournament in Carolina, a city located in the northeast portion of the island.

“The beach volleyball fans will have the chance to watch in action the stars of the future and to support our teams,” Perez Cruz said. “The support of the Mayor of Carolina – Jose Carlos Aponte – is very important to bring this event here and some others we are going to have during the summer.”

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