The theme of the week leading up to this past weekend’s H2 #7 14U tourney at Forest Park for the H2 14 Under Armour team was “finishing”. The prior weekend was a disappointing result in the St. Louis Gateway League as the team went 0-6 against the top teams in the age bracket. Of the 13 sets played, H2 had leads late in the match in eight of them and only managed to finish with one win.
The plan for practices were to work hard on passing and finishing games. Unfortunately mother nature decided that one practice was enough for the week and the team was forced to prepare more mentally than physically.
An early start on a cold Sunday morning would test just how prepared the team was. Like trying to start the cars on the cold morning, the girls were a little sluggish as well. After battling through an error-filled, 19-16, first set victory over the Gemini Titans, the girls responded well winning the second set 19-6.
The second match of the day was a 19-13, 19-12 victory over K Elites 14 to set up the final pool play match against the second seed Top Notch 14 Calde out of Springfield, IL. Top Notch was winning their pool play matches in more impressive fashion with aggressive serves so H2 UA realized that they would need to step up their intensity.
In probably their best set of the day, H2 came out nearly error free in a 19-7 victory. Despite words of caution from their coaches on how the second set would be much tougher, the message wasn’t received. However, with the emphasis being on “finishing”, the team persevered and won the second set 19-16 to move to the playoffs.
H2 14 Illini Black knocked off the top seed, MOVA Gold, in the first round of the playoffs to set up and all H2 match in the semi-finals. H2 UA handled their business in earning a 19-8, 19-13 victory and a berth in the finals, and a rematch against Top Notch.
The first set of the finals went back and forth with both teams making more errors than in their pool play match. Again, H2 UA finished strong and held on with a 25-23 win in the first set. The second set started just as close but a big finishing service run from Ella Middleton sealed the deal at 25-18 for the first tourney win of the year for H2 14UA.
Record: 5-0 (10-0 set record), 202 points scored, 132 points allowed
Serve %: 88.3% (Ella Middleton 100%, Ellie Appelbaum 93.8%)
Aces: 37 (Lexie Griffin 9, Rainna Ostmann and Emma Garner 8)
Hitting %: .220 (Gabby Saye .378, Emma Garner .355)
Kills: 74 (Gabby Saye 21, Emma Garner 16, Torie Strange 14)