Bahamian beach volleyball players Jon Isaacs and Eugene Stuart hit the sand last weekend and played in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, on the 2023 NORCECA (North, Central American and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation) Beach Volleyball Tour.
The duo finished tied with Anguilla, Dominica and the host country for 17th in the tournament with 80 points.
“The stop in Cayman, as expected, was really the best stop, from the organization of the tournament to the weather. It is a different kind of heat compared to Aguascalientes, but those were great conditions to play in,” Isaacs said. The first stop of the tour was in Aguascalientes, Mexico, in April.
In the Cayman Islands, there were 20 teams participating with Mexico winning the tournament, taking down the United States of America (USA) in straight sets. The Bahamas was in the group with the USA, El Salvador, Bermuda and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Bahamas finished group play dropping all four of their games as El Salvador and the USA advanced out of the group.
The Bahamas’ best match came against Bermuda in which they lost 2-1. Stuart and Isaacs opened the game with a 21-18 first set win but lost the second set 21-14. They fell in the third set with an identical score from the second set.
“It was a fairly experienced group of teams,” Isaacs said. “We had two teams for sure on our radar. The top two teams advanced to quarters automatically, so based on where we are in the season, we had a much better chance aiming for the 13-17 ranked finishes for the weekend, grab the points there and work ourselves up to a better seed for the future.”
It was the second tournament that the duo played together in, and Isaacs said that there was some improvement.
“Stuart’s attacking on the two-ball option or the second touch for our team started to come in for this tournament so that was a great improvement from our first stop,” Isaacs said. “Our offense got a bit more diversity with that option in the mix. Our block/defense relationship really improved as we picked up a lot more digs in transition situations. We had slower starts, particularly our first sets, which started changing by our third match of the day but the sets usually revealed what our playing potential could be like with more practice and tournament experience as a team.”
The duo has not made it to the quarterfinals in their first two stops on the tour, but they are looking at long-term development as they are learning their style of play and match routines.
“Looking forward, there’s still quite a bit of technical work for our team to get in such as improving our block/defense, strengthening our serve receive, and adding more tactics that suit our team to cover the experience gaps. We’ll watch some videos and plan from there,” Isaacs said.
Next up for them is the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games set for June 23 to July 8 in Panama City, Panama.