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Beach volleyball pros and amateurs all set for Marianas Cup

From left, Jeff Carlucci, Jacklyne Jones, Kaui Salzman, and Evan Silberstein pose for a photo before conducting a clinic yesterday at the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan sandcourt.

Saipan, Northern Marianas Islands, February 21, 2014 – Eight visiting beach volleyball pros are in town, as the Marianas Cup Beach Volleyball Festival returns to Saipan this weekend at the Fiesta Resort & Spa sand courts.

The group is composed of professional athletes, including returnees Jacklyne Jones and Jeff Carlucci of the U.S. and Japan’s Megumi Murakami, Shinako Tanaka, and Yasuo Nakaya. Newcomers Kaui Salzman, Evan Silberstein, and Hotoshi Murakami will also compete.

“It’s nice play again in the Marianas Cup and have fun with amateur players,” said Jones, who joined last year’s tournament in Guam and finished in the Top 5.

“This year, I don’t know how I am going to finish in the tournament, as it will depend on who my partner will be. But, whoever I am paired with, I will make sure we will have a lot of fun and help her get better. I just hope a lot of girls will show up and compete this weekend.”

Jones’ pro partner, Salzman, shared the former’s sentiments on enjoying every game with an amateur teammate and teaching her a thing or two.

“As long as my teammate is open to communication and willing to learn, we will do good,” Salzman said.

As for their exhibition game against Tanaka and Murakami tomorrow, Salzman and Jones said they are taking the game seriously and do not want to disappoint the locals fans.

“They (Japanese) have a reputation for winning, but we want to win, too, that’s why we are here and trying to get the feel of the court,” said Salzman, who believed her seven-year partnership with Jones will be a big factor in their exhibition game against the Japanese pair.

Silberstein is also concerned with his and Carlussi’s exhibition match with Nakaya and Murakami, as Friday’s game will be the former’s first time to show his skills to Saipan.

“The first order of business is to get the job done in the exhibition game,” said Silberstein, who loves to set and would be a perfect fit for a player who can hit the ball down. “We have to be prepared as a team first before worrying about the pro-am competition.

“I am a little smaller and will need a partner with good offense. I have good ball control, so it will be great to have someone who can side out and put the ball down. I wish I could still play with Jeff, but he will be raffled off and be paired with the amateurs.”

Carlucci said Saipan have a deep pool of quality players and it will be hard to choose a partner, if given a chance.

“It will be a tough choice, as I know a lot of good players here. There are a lot of people I would love to play with. Even though I will not be able to choose from the pool, it gives me a bit of advantage knowing these players and their strengths and weakness, which I and my eventual partner could exploit come game time,” said Carlucci, who debuted in the Marianas Cup with Chris Nelson four or five years ago before playing with Misaki Cramer in 2012.

Meanwhile, Carlucci and the seven other pros conducted a two-hour clinic at Fiesta yesterday with more than 100 joining the afternoon session, according to Northern Mariana Islands Volleyball Association’s Amie McRoberts.


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