Organizers of the 2020-2021 Public School System Interscholastic 4v4 Beach Volleyball League believe that the ongoing competition will drum up interest in the sport as the CNMI prepares for the 2022 Pacific Mini Games.
Beach volleyball is among the six sports initially included on the program for the rescheduled event.
“We’re excited to have this 4×4 tournament. This is a great lead-in to the Mini Games, which we will be hosting next year,” PSS Student Support Services Athletic Program director Nick Gross said.
The league, which PSS is holding through the help of the Northern Mariana Islands Volleyball Association, kicked off the competition for the boys high school division last Saturday at the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan sand courts, while the girls played last Jan. 23. The league is the first event PSS is hosting this year and also the first under NMIVA. Ten teams are entered in each division.
“Our players have been without competitions since March and you can see how much they have missed the sport with the way they are playing right now. The competitiveness is evident and that’s really good, as we try to revive the community’s interest in volleyball while we get ready for the Mini Games,” Gross said.
Though he took note of the high level of play in the league, Gross had hoped that more public schools joined this year’s competition.
“Unfortunately, because of funding issues, some schools were not able to join us—they need funding to transport the kids to the venue,” Gross said.
Kagman High School and Saipan Southern High School missed this year’s tournament, while Tinian Junior Senior High School and Rota’s Dr. Rita Hocog Inos Junior Senior High School could not come to Saipan for the weekend games and will just be here when the playoff round is played next month. Marianas High School, Grace Christian Academy, Mt. Carmel School, Saipan International School, and Agape Christian School joined the league and except for the latter, all schools entered multiple teams in both the girls and boys divisions.
“Tinian and Rota are training on their own to get ready for the tournament. How we wish we could bring them on Saipan every weekend. As for the other public schools, we hope we could get them back into the tournament with the help of our community, the teachers, our coaches, and our officials. If we want to turn things over and get sports programs going, we will be needing everyone’s help and commitment,” Gross said.
“If we can get everyone behind us, we will be able to provide our students equal opportunity to play,” he added.