This weekend our girls of 17 Under Armour returned to action in Gateway League. A tale of two days which the girls’ play was night and day. On Saturday our girls finally got the chance to compete as a complete team. No illnesses and no prior obligations stopped them from getting to the court. However, there was quite a bit of rust to kick off.

After finishing fourth in our pool two weeks ago, we stayed in gold and had to compete against some great teams Saturday. A pool of big teams mixing with the nerves of our first time competing lead to an 0-3 day against Rockwood 16 Mizuno, HP 18 Royal and HP 18 Orange. After our matches we had a long heart to heart and talked about our goals as a team. The girls expressed nerves and fears of messing up and their actions through the day made more sense after. We had a long talk about enjoying competition and using volleyball as an outlet to a stressful life they live. We also got to celebrate Rachel Verdun’s birthday as she was nice enough to bring food.

The team that came to the gym Sunday was not the same team that went 0-3. We came out playing our hardest, cheering on our teammates and expressing ourselves with our actions. All teams in this league are tough which is good for our girls to see. We started against Show Me 16 ROX who played very well despite being underage. They set a great block and had some big hitters that our girls struggled with. However, they worked hard and overcame to win 18-25, 25-11, 15-7.

Up next was a game against a very scrappy Blue Steel team. It felt like any ball we sent over they could dig up. Our girls did a great job of not getting frustrated though. Even when the hitters swings were getting dug they fought through and competed the entire game. Our day ended against Momentum’s top team, Momentum 18 Navy, with first place in the pool at stake. Both teams came into the match 2-0 in the pool and needing a win. First place in our pool stayed in gold while second fell to silver and had to fight back to gold next meeting.

Our girls competed hard the first set against a very capable team and even ran off an 8-point run to win the first set 25-21. The second set was filled with frustration where it felt like nothing was working. Our girls resorted to tipping instead of swinging their heavy arms. This lead to a 16-25 defeat as we headed to a third set for the chance to compete in gold!

Waiting for the refs to set up, Camrey explained how scrappy this defense was and how the only way we would win is by out hitting them and outworking them. The girls started up 2-0 with an ace by Delaney Allan but then let Momentum come back with five in a row to trail 2-5. This was a defining point in the match. I talked to Annie Bryan and Camrey talked to Rachel and said this is where the captains of our team need to step up. And the girls responded the rest of the set. Annie had four kills in a row and 5 overall in the third set while Rachel added three kills of her own on second ball attacks. The game came down to 13-13 and our girls pushed a point then Rachel finished with a kill sending the ball to the deep corner.

As coaches, we were so proud of the way this team fought today. They were not at their best physically in the first two matches, but even when they were facing defeat they found a way to step up and fight back. Every time we were down, we didn’t quit and we didn’t give up. That mentality is very exciting to coach and we believe this team can be very special. H2 17 UA will be heading to Memphis for the 2017 Memphis Open this weekend to compete in 17 Power. The girls are excited for their first out of town tournament and the coaches can’t wait to get back on the court! Go H2!