I haven’t blogged much lately…..things have been crazy busy! I was finally emancipated from work last Wednesday (Wednesday the 10th, that is) and I haven’t had time to stop since!
Thursday and Friday (11th & 12th – I feel I must clarify for myself more than anything because it seems so long ago!) were spent shuttling to the last volleyball practice before AAUs and last-minute preparations for the visit of my Uncle Richard and cousins Phil and Mark. Uncle Richard came in for his high school reunion. We had a lovely gathering at my house on Friday evening, complete with my sister’s famous chocolate cake and my mom’s homemade strawberry ice cream!
We enjoyed the visit so very much, but it was too short!
Monday morning, I was able to squeeze a run in before we headed for the airport. We were the last family to arrive for the tournament (had I known what I know now at the time of ticket booking……). Alli and I rushed off the plane to the car rental counter to pick up one of our cars so that we could get to the opening ceremonies on time. As luck would have it, there was a weather delay due to lightning, which gave us all the time we needed.
The girls were able to walk around the stadium to cheers from fans. In addition to the slew of Puerto Rican teams, in attendance, I noticed a familiar Maple leaf flag…
The day started with a loss against a strong Puerto Rican team. (Get used to this….) Like any good parent, I feel we could have beat them. *sigh*
The first day, we only had to win one match in order to keep hopes alive for the Championship. But who wants to stay in the hunt by the skin of their teeth? We were able to easily win our second match. The third match of the day should have been the most difficult to win, which had me worried. I didn’t have a lot of faith in the seeding process regarding the teams that came out of Puerto Rico. (I’m so tempted to use PR, but PRs are a good thing in running and these Puerto Rican teams were NOT good for MadFrogs.) The last match of the day went to 3 sets and we squeaked out a win, 15-13. At least we went into day 2 with 2-1 record….
We were off to a better start on day 2, after winning our first 2 matches. We knew the last match would be tough (as usual), but the team ended up being more than we could handle and, again, the Puerto Ricans won rather easily. (By the way, the ONLY American team we faced was on day 1.) Luckily, top 2 teams in each pool advanced and our hopes for the championship bracket were still alive. Afterward, the team went out to Downtown Disney for some fun and food. The girls enjoyed the outing and their meal at Rainforest Cafe.
We knew that Thursday would be tough. Not only from the level of play, but from literally playing all day long. We had 2 morning games at 8 & 9, a game at 1 then another match at 6. Oddly enough, the match at 6 was the only one that mattered regarding advancement to the championship bracket. In any case, we were down to 9 teams vying for 4 spots in the championship. (Only 2 American (and Texan) teams, I might add)
In the crossover match, we were ahead and at set point, but could not side out. We ended up losing 24-26. HEARTBREAKING. The second set we came out, guns blazing and won 25-21, forcing a tiebreaker. But once again, we had trouble breaking serve and ended with a 7-15 loss. This was the most devastating loss of the tournament, because we all knew (girls included) that we COULD have beat this team. The loss put us in the consolation bracket which meant the highest we could place would be 5th.
Friday morning, we played another team that we should have been able to beat. Once again, we found ourselves in the situation where all we needed was a side out to win and couldn’t force an error. First set score was 24-26. We came back to win set two 25-11, and I was hopeful that we would carry that momentum in to the 3rd set for the win. However, we were unable to return the first serve of the game and the girls imploded. We lost that set 5-15, which is probably the worst showing for them this entire season.
Our girls were the highest finishing American team in the tournament with our 7th place finish. I say that like it makes getting 7th easier, only it doesn’t. I don’t want to seem as if I am not proud of their work. I’ve never seen them fight as hard as they did this weekend. They played with heart and determination. And even though we didn’t get the results for which we were seeking, I am so glad that we played in this tournament. Our girls had not traveled for a tournament before and they certainly hadn’t played in a National Championship. This experience will help them prepare for the USAV Girls Junior National Championships next year!
I later learned that the Puerto Rican girls likely attend a volleyball academy in which they attend classes each morning and practice volleyball all afternoon, every afternoon. If this is the case, our girls did VERY well against them, as they weren’t really much better than us. They were more consistent with passing and that was the game changer (but isn’t passing ALWAYS the game changer?)
I’ll be blogging about our non-volleyball activities soon after we arrive home. Until then…
Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there!