A Caymanian teenager living in California is set to compete for a national indoor volleyball title at the USA Junior National Championships in New Orleans next month.
Marissa Harrison, 14, formerly of Lower Valley, now resides in San Diego, where she plays for the Coast Volleyball Club. Her team recently earned a coveted bid to compete in the championship event. Coast is the eighth-ranked United States club, and Harrison’s team are in the Under-14 elites where they are ranked No. 1 in the southern California region.
The USA Junior National Championships, from June 23 to July 2, are likely to be intense, but Harrison is relishing it.
“I’m not nervous yet; I’m excited,” she said. “Once I’m there, I’ll probably be really nervous. But right now, I feel like I can’t wait for it happen.” Harrison is a defensive specialist, hailed for her exceptional quickness and court awareness. She describes volleyball as “super-competitive” in California but loves the game and enjoys the challenge of facing many of America’s best players.
“It’s not easy, but I can’t get enough of it,” said Harrison. “I play court [indoor] and beach volleyball every chance I get. Hopefully, the more I play, the better I’ll get. It’s not easy when I go up against players that are the best in the country.
“The ball moves so fast, but I feel like I’m lucky because I have very good coaches who know a lot. I just try to learn as much as I can from them and keep working hard.”
Harrison believes that splitting her efforts between indoor and beach volleyball at an early age will eventually make her a better player overall.
“Indoor is a lot different from beach, but both help me get better,” she said. “You have to be super fit to play well on the sand, and then the indoor game is so fast, plus you have more teammates on the court with you, so your brain has to work overtime. I love it all.”
Jeff Smith, director of 692 Beach Volleyball Club in San Diego, is guiding Harrison in the outdoor game.
“Marissa is going on her third year of beach volleyball and is demonstrating a high level of play in her skill sets, game strategy, and mental toughness,” he said. “She is very coachable and every day strives to make herself better, which is a positive sign of being a high level athlete.”
The former student at Montessori by the Sea in Prospect, also continues to be an excellent student, having earned all A’s during three years of middle school.