The first event of the NORCECA Beach Tour kicks off today in the Cayman Islands, and it is loaded with talent.
Canada sent down some of our top teams; Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk and Christian Redmann/Matt Zbyszewski are representing us on the mens side, and Liz Maloney/Heather Bansley will be joined by Jamie Broder/Kristina Valjas.
If you’ve seen either episode 36 or 37 of the Volleyball Source Podcast, you’ll also know that Todd Rogers will also be competing in the Cayman Islands, with his new partner Ryan Doherty.
But since this is all old news, let’s talk about the last bit of star power that will be playing of the beautiful Seven Mile Beach this weekend.
For those of you who know who Puerto Rican Hector Soto is, you need no introduction. For the rest, here are some of the details.
Soto is largely considered to be the best player Puerto Rico has ever produced.
He started his career in the NCAA, with IPFW (much like our own Matty Z!), and was a two-time All-American in 1999 and 2000.
He quickly became the star of the Puerto Rican National team, and led them to their best-ever finish at the 2007 NORCECA Championships in Anaheim, grabbing Silver after shocking Cuba in the semis.
From there the team qualified for the 2007 World Cup, where Soto led not only Puerto Rico in scoring, but the entire tournament. He led Puerto Rico to an unprecedented 6th place finish and nabbed the Best Scorer award while he was there.
The Puerto Rican was also one of the innaugural FIVB Heroes.
For those who still can't grasp how good Soto was on the court, here's a little taste:
Now Soto will be playing on Puerto Rico B with another former National team member, Victor Rivera, since defending Cayman Islands Champs Roberto Rodriguez and Eric Haddock have taken the Puerto Rico A slot.
This may be the deepest NORCECA Tournament I have ever seen, which will make it all the sweeter when our Canadian teams leave with some hardware.