Our girls traveled to Memphis, TN this weekend to participate in the Memphis Challenge in 17 Power. Our girls were placed in a stacked division and worked all week to try to take home gold.
On the first day of the tournament we were without MH Annie Bryan due to a band performance. The coaches prepped all season long for this tinkering with possible lineup changes and position swaps. However, three days before the trip we were saved from all this from the help of a special player. Sydney Irizarry and her father Andres Irizarry, Assistant Director of H2, thought it would be a fun experience to travel all the way down to Memphis to play three games for us and we are incredibly grateful. Andres told me Sydney said she “wouldn’t want to let an H2 family member down” and traveled all the way home and back on Saturday so they could compete in their own tournament early Sunday morning. Again, I want to give a huge thank you to both of them. Our girls loved having Sydney their and Andres was kind enough to sit on our bench and give several of our girls tips as well. We would not have finished where we did without them.
Now, moving onto the action! We started Saturday as top seed in our pool and played exceptional. We started slow our first match then ended strong with a 25-22, 25-14 win over Cajun Elite 17 Red. Our girls battled hard and found chemistry with the new player quickly! We carried that momentum to an impressive win over Viper 17 Purple 25-13, 25-15.
After pool play was over, there was a crossover match with the other three team pool for seeding on Sunday. Our girls were placed against Krewe of Amanda 17 who were no slouches. This was one of the best games of the tournaments. The leads constantly changed but our girls battled all the way through to a win in three sets 18-25, 25-22, 15-13. The girls were so excited to finish 3-0 on their first day and they made their coaches proud. Andres said Sydney mentioned the girls were very welcoming and she loved playing with them. This is the best thing I could have heard as a coach because we not only push our girls to be great players, but great people.
Sunday brought up bracket play for a first-place trophy and our girls played hungry. We came out strong against MJVA 17 Anderton and won 25-18, 25-10. We were now guaranteed a final four spot in our first out of town tournament! Some teams could have stopped here but our girls did not. We started slow in the semifinals against Southern Storm 17 but finished on a very high note winning 25-23, 25-9.
However, this is where the story starts to get rough. Our girls lined up in the championship game against Memphis Metro 17 who are a very capable club with lots of big hitters and a great defense. We lost our confidence and our identity as a team and fell to them to finish second place.
We were happy to see the girls were not content with a second-place finish when they knew they were fully capable of winning the tournament. A taste of the big moment was just too much on their first tournament. But the best teams have short memories. We have a short week then we play in gold at Gateway League this weekend at Lafayette High School.
At the end of the trip I had a lot of time to reflect and I am proud of our girls. This was their first out of town experience together and we were able to grow together as a team. The results were not what we wanted but there is a lot of good that came out of this weekend that we can learn from. I also want to extend a thank you to all the coaches and players that supported us in the championship game and throughout the weekend. It was pretty special to walk around the gym and see H2 teams supporting each other.
I want to leave our girls and all other teams with this: “Be happy, but never satisfied.” There’s a lot of volleyball to be played and a lot of hardware still up for grabs. Go H2!