Beach Volleyball

There are many sports well followed in Japan and one of these is beach volley ball. They look up

to the stars because they bring dignity and respect to their country in terms of sports and I guess they

just like to see what the people they look up to are doing their whole daily life. The opening rounds of

the 23rd Marianas Cup Beach Volleyball Festival pro-am tournament yesterday paved the way for

today’s final at Gov. Joseph Flores memorial Beach Park. Guam’s Kendra Byrd and Japanese pro Erika

Habaguchi played together for the first time yesterday and finished pool play undefeated. Japanese are

such good volleyball players. Other undefeated women’s teams were Nozumi Yanagi and Anna

Miyakawa, and Whitney Blandford and Aubrey Waters. Undefeated men’s teams included Chris

Shepherd and Borjah Gonzalez, Tyler Willsey and Tsuchiya Takashi, Jeff Carlucci and Brandon Chance,

and Jimmy Boonprakong and Aaron Parker. Byrd and Habaguchi were paired up through a random raffle

drawing that is one of the tournament’s highlights. It was the second time Byrd has won the raffle and

she said playing with a pro is no different than anyone else. Byrd and Habaguchi finished the day 4-0.

Local men’s star Shintaro Okada was joined by long-time Marianas Cup player Tomo Obata. It is their

third Marianas cup together. They really work well together and train hard for Okada and Obata beat

Guam players BJ Balajadia and Derrick Wahl in their second match of the day. The tournament included

34 teams total, director Jon Cramer said, 19 men’s and 15 women’s, and more than a dozen professional

players. Local players, ages 17-51, from Guam, Saipan and the U.S. mainland filled the brackets. Okada

loved the tournament. It was hot but the courts turned out really nice. Good job to Jon Cramer and his

crew for putting all the hours in. There is one permanent court at the beach park and three more courts

were constructed for the Cup. Between matches the players helped organize the tournament, filling in

as referees for matches in opposite pools. As you can see, volleyball is really nice to follow and very

exciting especially when you are cheering for your fellow countrymen. Japan will always be a country so

talented in many things.