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Beach volleyball players determined to improve after first tour experience

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Bermuda beach volleyball stars Alison Settle (left) and Lisa LeBlanc prepare for a match in the Cayman Islands

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again could well have been written for Bermuda’s beach volleyball teams who are determined to improve on their first experience at international level.

Two male teams made up of Ian Bucci and Brandon Sousa and Kyle Hamilton and Ryan Davies, along with the female team of Alison Settle and Lisa LeBlanc, may not have won a match in their initial competition on the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation Tour in the Cayman islands last weekend but they are thirsty to return.

Sousa in particular will be taking away plenty of lessons and is looking back on the tournament with fond memories.

“It was a great experience for us, perhaps not the best results-wise but for Bermuda’s first time participating at that level and not knowing what we were getting ourselves into, I think it worked out pretty well,” Sousa said. “My team finished 13th, so not the best outcome but it was still a good result for us being the new team there.”

If Sousa does have a tinge of regret about his experience, it surrounds his team’s pool match against Haiti, in which a possible victory slipped from their grasp.

Ian Bucci (left) and Brandon Sousa enjoyed beach volleyball in Cayman

“That was a frustrating game for us and I think we should have won,” Sousa said. “Everything didn’t quite come together towards the end. We had a big lead in the second set and we just fell short and wasn’t able to close that it out, which resulted in us losing.”

With no world ranking and taking on seasoned professionals, Bermuda’s players knew they would need to be at their best and their level of competition was one thing that did not surprise.

“It was exactly what we expected on that front,” Sousa said. “Canada, the USA, Guatemala and on the women’s side Puerto Rico, they are all professional players and play all year round.

Kyle Hamilton (right) and Ryan Davies out of luck in Cayman Islands

“Their level compared with what we have in Bermuda is off the charts and is something we have to get used to. My first match was against the team who came fourth in the tournament Costa Rica and seeing how they play and having conversations with them was a good experience.

“The teams are all very friendly. As soon as we got there we were talking to them around the courts and in the players’ area after matches. They would give us tips on what we need to do but it’s a friendly tournament and we look forward to seeing them again.”

Having flown to Cayman on Thursday and with their first match on Friday morning, there was not much time to prepare and become acclimatised to conditions.

“As soon as we landed in Cayman on Thursday, we went to the courts to do a quick training session for an hour just to get used to the different sand,” Sousa said.

“The sand was a lot coarser there. Bermuda sand is very fine and depending on the grade of sand, it impacts how high you can jump and even things like diving, when the sand is coarser you may even get scratches when you dive.”

Sousa has definitely been bitten by the tour bug and can’t wait to get another slice of the action next year.

“That was the final leg of the tour for 2022 and then there will be seven tour stops next year, with the Bermuda Volleyball Association hopefully looking to send teams to two of them,” Sousa said.

“We don’t know where the events will be yet but when they are announced I’m sure the BVA will look for the stops that are best suited to Bermuda.

“There’s more work across the board on everything to be done for beach volleyball in Bermuda. We hadn’t been to a tournament at that level or played against teams of this calibre. We don’t have the international coaches or people who played at that level in Bermuda to give us their expertise as the other countries do.”

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Published November 16, 2022 at 8:05 am (Updated November 16, 2022 at 8:05 am)

Beach volleyball players determined to improve after first tour experience

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