The 2015 NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit Tour opener on Public Beach over the weekend presented another wonderful exhibition of great action in a perfect setting.
Cayman had three teams in the competition: Jessica Wolfenden and Stefania Gandolfi in one women’s team and Ileann Powery and Chante Smith-Johnson in the other. The men’s team was comprised of Olney “OT” Thompson and Philippe Deslandes.
The finals were played on Sunday evening, after the Cayman Compass had gone to press.
Puerto Rican duo Erik Haddock and Roberto Rodriguez, two-time winners in the last three years and bronze medalists last year, looked set for another podium finish by reaching the semifinals.
In Sunday’s final-four match-up, Haddock and Rodriguez faced Canada-B’s Garrett May and Daniel Dearing, while USA-A duo Mark Burik and Curt Toppel played Cubans Nivaldo Diaz and Sergio Gonzalez in the other.
USA and Canada both had a team in the women’s finals.
In the women’s semifinals, USA-A Traci Weamer and Kendra Vanzweiten played USA-B’s Jenny Kropp and Whitney Pavlik, while in the other half of the draw, Canada-A pair, Claudia Seguin and Alexandra Poletto, faced Canada-B’s, Julie Gordon and Brandie Wilkerson.
This was the seventh straight year the tour began in Cayman. It featured 17 women’s and 16 men’s teams, competing in round-robin groups before the top two pairs advanced to the main draw knockout stage.
Kennedy McGowan, the newly installed Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation president, acknowledged that it was a challenge for his new administration to put on the event.
“We only came into office in December and in no terms were we were going to decline hosting the event, which kicks off the season, as we have done as an island for the past six years,” he said.
“As a new board we were up for the challenge and with some of us being involved in the staging of the event in the past, we were able to pull through. And as you can see, I think we have done a great job.”
He added that this year they tried to improve on the crowd attendance with more seating and a bigger VIP area.