Young duo will spike NORCECA gains

Two of Cayman’s best young volleyball players will soon showcase their potential on home soil.

Ileann Powery and Chante Smith-Johnson are two of eight players representing the Cayman Islands at the opening stage of the 2014 North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation Beach Volleyball Circuit. Taking place at Seven Mile Public Beach on April 25-27, the competition will feature traditional regional foes like Mexico, Canada and the United States while Cuba returns to these shores for the first time since 2009.

For Carl Brown, public relations officer for the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation, the Under-18 tandem will be a success story going forward.

“They are juniors, they have only been on board with us under three years,” Brown said. “Yet they take on significant challenges. They have taken on adults in events like the Island Games. They’ve done very well and beat some good teams in the process. They can only continue to climb and we can only expect their continued growth over time. They will play in the upcoming NORCECA tournament and we’re looking forward to them being Olympic hopefuls in the not-too-distant future.”

Powery and Smith-Johnson are coming off an impressive showing at the final NORCECA beach volleyball qualifier for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. The girls placed fifth out of 12 teams as they won their group before losing in the quarterfinals to Suriname. The duo rattled off victories over Antigua, Mexico, Grenada and Costa Rica.

For the NORCECA tour opener this week, Powery and Smith-Johnson join Jessica Wolfenden and Cristin Alexander in the womens segment while Shervin Rankin and Richard Campbell team up with Olney Thompson and Philippe Deslandes to form the Cayman men’s teams.

This week’s tournament is free to the public. The main sponsors are: the Department of Tourism, the Ministry of Sports, Corona, Dart Cayman Islands, Cayman Airways and LIME.

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