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Club News Story

Up and down roller coaster ride in Burlington

2017 / 02 / 27

The second Premier event of the year was a roller coaster ride of execution and results. Not sure that we can pin-point what was the cause other than to be grateful that we are able to turn things around when it mattered most in the play off round.

The week leading up to the tournament coach John had arranged for us to play our sister team the Wildcards and the 18U Broncos to prepare for the tournament. We were completely dominated by the Wildcards on Tuesday, they served us off the floor and being a team that relies on controlling our first contact we were definitely well below ordinary that night against the Wildcards serving clinic. Our Thursday match against the Broncos was cancelled as the 18Us were down to six players due to injuries and a high school tournament conflict. We used the time to practice instead hoping to bounce back from the Tuesday defeat.

The schedule for this tournament was also very different as there were 10 teams up one from the usual 9 and that had us playing our first match at 11AM instead of the usually 8AM warm-up and match at 9AM. For a team that notoriously struggles with mornings and early starts this was a bad, bad sign. We arrived at the facility on time to watch the fist set of the match between the Titans and Pakmen. The Pakmen had just qualified for Premier and this is the first time that we have seen them all year. They dominated the first set against Titans 25-14. Another bad sign for a team that struggles with our own doubts. The Titans were able to pull out the match winning in three sets.

The Pakmen were already warmed up and likely not happy with just losing their first match. The first set was full of errors from our end, nothing seemed to click for us offensively and we struggled from the service line. We lost 20-25 never threatening the Pakmen’s momentum at any point. The second set was a disaster, coach John had used both time outs by the time the score was 4-20 we were playing for pride points and lost that battle as well losing 10-25.

We then had a match up with the Titans and we usually have see-saw battles with the last match going to three sets. Not this time, the Titans handed it to us from beginning to end and we never really ever challenged them at any point in the two sets. We lost both sets by 17-25 scores with the bulk of our points scored after the Titans made some personnel changes on their side hopefully out of mercy for us. Yes! We were that bad.

One of our goals this year is to not lose a relegation match. We had felt the bitter sting last year when we lost the 5/7th match and were relegated for the last OVA tournament of the season. Although it was a goal we wanted to accomplish we never wanted to be in that situation. Our morning play forced us into a pre-quarter against South County (ON4 coming into the tournament). We lose and the best we could do is 9th. Win and we live to fight in potentially two more relegation matches. It doesn’t sound positive at all but that was our approach. A medal was not our motivation as it was too lofty of a goal given our play, our motivation was to not have to face relegation.

We started out very slow in our first set against South County. We never really found our pace until the latter point of a tight first set where we squeaked out a 25-22 win. In the second set we started to play better and our offence was more efficient along with better team serving and we were able to win 25-15. One hurdle down but another major one stood in front of use in the form of Leaside who came in winners of the last two tournaments and the top seed. A loss and we would be fighting in the a 5th/7th match, once again we weren’t motivated to win we were more motivated by the thought of losing.

We came out in the first set against Leaside very strong jumping on them with our tough serving which allowed us to run our offence. We won by a score of 25-15 in a high energy match. Leaside wins for a reason and they were not ready to just hand us the second and deciding set. The rallies were long and very skilled from both teams with the lead changing multiple times in the second set however at the end of it Leaside came out ahead 22-25. That forced a third and deciding set where we never lead until after the court change at 8. We were down 11-13 at one point but we still clawed our way back to win it by a thrilling 16-14 score. We had survived the relegation rounds with that match and now the medal matches were ahead. In all frankness we would have been happy to survive relegation and never imagined that we would be playing in the medal rounds given how poorly we played in the morning.

The semi-finals was a rematch of the National East semi final against the Hurricanes. We competed well but lost in two straight sets 17-25 and 18-25 with Coach John oddly not calling many timeouts to make tactical adjustments. He’s up to something, we just don’t know what it is yet as this is the Hurricanes last 16U competition before Provincials.

Our bronze medal match was against Fire who had beaten us in the semi final at the last Premier tournament. It was getting late in the day and it was evident that both teams were tired and play was not as crisp as we would have expected. We were able to come out ahead by set scores of 25-16 and 25-21 to claim our first Premier medal of our careers.

This tournament was a definite character building weekend where we experienced the lowest of the lows and the highest of the highs all within a seven hour period. We don’t ever want to be in this position again but if we are we know that we can batle through it.

Up next for us is the Mizuno Capitol Hill Volleyball Classic in Washington DC followed by the 16U OVA GrandPrix at Brock University.

“ I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. ”
– Thomas Jefferson