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BEACH VOLLEYBALLERS FINE TUNING FOR MINI GAMES

Preparation for Pacific Mini Games

This is the second in a series of previews of Team Guam heading to Saipan for the 2022 Pacific Mini Games

By Jay Leon Guerrero

Guam’s Beach Volleyball Team returns to the Pacific Mini Games after sending just a women’s team to Vanuatu in 2017. With the CNMI just 30 minutes away, the Guam Beach Volleyball Team will be sending a complete men’s and women’s team.

The men’s team is composed of Nicholas Shepherd and Galen Balajadia and the women’s team is composed of Kristen Serrano and Kendra Byrd. Their competition starts on June 20th at the Crowne Plaza Resort with 11 countries competing and a total of 38 athletes.

The team will be competing from June 20-24 in Garapan. Byrd went to the last Mini Games and brings experience to the group.

“Having her around has definitely an advantage. (Kendra) has the experience, she knows help me with my game both physically and mentally,” said Serrano. “Its like having a big sister with me”.

Since Beach Volleyball was included in the Mini Games in 2011, the women’s team from Vanuatu has won every gold medal. Serrano/Byrd will do their best to get on the medal podium and bring back some hardware.

The Balajadia/Shepherd team will compete internationally for the first time together but are confident they are going to do their best against the competition.

“We are going to go out there and do our best to compete for our island,” said Balajadia.

According to all the competitors, having the tournament in Saipan and travelling with a large group of fellow athletes will be an advantage.

“It’s going to be great to have the support from other teams and have that camaraderie. We will be there to support the other teams and hopefully they will be there to support us as well.”

– men’s beach volleyball player Galen Balajadia

For Balajadia, Shepherd and Serrano, this will be their first competition with other sports and fellow Guam athletes. They said they will make the best out of this competition.

“I’ts an absolute privilege to represent Guam. The pressure is out there to do Guam proud and that’s what it really is now – to do our best and make our island proud,” said Balajadia.

The women’s team competing for Saipan participated in the tournament on Sunday at Jimmy Dee’s Beach and they used the tournament as a simulation for the Mini Games.

Here are the results from 2 vs 2 Beach Invitational Tournament:
Women’s Division
1. Kara Eugenio/ Ivee Ilao
2. Charnessa Lizama/ Kathy Winkfield
3. Jeneal Besabe/ Andy Naivana

Men’s Division
1. Saki Naivana/ Ryan Eugenio
2. Brian Matanane / Chris Shepherd
3. Galen Balajadia/ Nicolas Shepherd

The team of Charnessa Lizama/Kathy Winkfield will be representing CNMI in the PMG and was thankful for the opportunity to compete on Guam prior to June’s big events,

“We are lacking competitions like this in Saipan so we wanted to take this opportunity to play against a variety of players,” said Winkfield.

“This is the first Games for Saipan so all the athletes are taking their training more seriously and supporting each other,” said Lizama.

“The organization from Guam has been so welcoming to us and we thank them for that. They sent us an invitation to play here to help build our capacity in volleyball so we are grateful for their hospitality,” said Lizama.

Games Overview

The 2022 Pacific Mini Games will commence from June 17-25 in the Northern Marianas Islands. A total of nine sports will be played with seven sports played in Saipan while the other two sports take place in Rota and Tinian.

Athletics, Badminton, Baseball, Beach Volleyball, Golf, Tennis, Va’a and Weightlifting will be in Saipan. Beach Volleyball consolation matches will be played in nearby Tinian and the Triathlon will take place in Rota.

The Guam contingent will be the largest since the 2005 Mini Games held in Palau. Guam’s best performance was in Palau with six gold medals, nine silvers and 14 bronze medals.

Guam sent small contingencies to the 2009 (Cook Islands), 2013 (Wallis and Futuna) and 2017 (Vanuatu) Mini Games but were unable to come home with a gold medal.

The 2022 games will be the first time since Palau hosted the Games in 2005 that Guam will be sending a larger contingent. Guam will be sending more than 50 athletes which is the largest to date.

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COMING SOON …

QUICK HITS

After suffering a TKO loss on One 154, Brandon Vera left his gloves in the cage, symbolizing the end of his MMA career. Happy retirement Brandon!
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The Guahan Junior Barbarians represented Guam well in Singapore. The girls U18 took first place in their division in the 13th Centaurs International Youth Rugby Tournament while the boys captured second place playing ironman rugby with no subs.

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