Not Ourselves…But We Will Make It…

I was going to bypass this week’s “Blog”, but decided to send one out. Our team played well, but not at the competitive nature we are accustomed to seeing in us.  In our “end of day huddle” on Saturday, I suggested to the team that some days you have to wipe out times of struggle and not dwell on them; we were good at times, but we struggled at times.  I expect us to bounce back at our next upcoming tournament.

In stating the above, here is the message that I sent to everyone at the beginning of our season (20 Nov):

“My focus for the season is skill improvement; my objective is to teach important skill work that will support the growth of player development, while playing in high levels of competition.”

Because of our successes, we cannot lose focus on what my (our) goals were that was set for this team. We must continue to improve at each practice / match we participate in; this should be our focus throughout the season.

Practice: I will introduce a new practice format from now until the end of our season.  I plan to practice for only 90 minutes, and then provide 30 minutes of individual training and/or specific training geared towards one or many; it will be conducted like I run my private lesson sessions.  I look forward to our final month of the season!

Coach Warren


Day 1:

Match Win/Loss Record: 1 – 2
Early morning struggle to be “ourselves”
Ended on a good note to win last match convincingly (2 – 0)
Team outing at NCAA Hall of Fame!!! (3 Thumbs Up)
Team and Parent Pizza Dinner!!! (3 Thumbs Up)

Day 2:

Match Win/Loss Record: 3 – 0
Afternoon matches; we competed in everyone!
2nd match we came back for a second set 10-0 deficit. We won match in 2 straight sets.
Won last match in 3; highlight of the night!!!!
Team and Parent Dinner (CHINESE!!!!) and plenty of it… Parents are awesome!!! (3 Thumbs Up)

Day 3:

Match Win/Loss Record: 0 – 1
Good note; in our class of the MEQ, we made it to the highest (Diamond)
Bad note; we failed to compete…we struggled to get team cohesion and consistent court play
Good note; I truly believe as a team we understand what it takes to be competitive; we learned that through each day of the Qualifier; now we prep for Regionals!

Additionally this was a very good event for our team; we were all together for 3 days, both on and off the court. I saw the team in a different light and the team saw their coaches in a different light. Parents were the backbone of the MEQ; they supported the structure of planning set aside for the team and everyone enjoyed the times we all had together. Outstanding event!


Focus is the Key

Pool Play: 5 – 1
Tournament Play: 4 – 1
This was a one bracket tournament (my favorite) and we won the championship! The best part of this win was that we remained focused throughout the event. What did we do well?
We….fought to stay consistent
We ….did not play down to our opponents
We….corrected our mistakes and played on
We….played together as a team
However, the biggest thing is that we played with confidence and even when we were down in the semi’s, we played with poise and picked ourselves up together as a team. I am proud of how our team played and how my assistant coaches provided communication to the team. We were a strong unit this day…now we improve on that for the big show this weekend… INDY!

P.S. Focus is the Key!
Coach Warren

What We Can Become

Pool Play: 1 – 5
Tournament Play: 2 – 2
We missed the semi finals in the St Peters Tourney…Gold only. I like these types of tournaments because you have to compete with everyone to get the prize…what we can become…

Although we lost our second bracket match remember what we went through in the last set….the ending score was…327 to 325…it felt that way to me…what we can become…

Remember that everyone was “spent”…players, coaches, parents, refs….people watching from the glass doors of the entrance…the yelling and screaming….was that from me…Cait…Mae…parents… Remember what we went through… This was competition at our best…the best we had ever played this season…that last set was… Mistakes we made did not matter; we overcame. Points we gained did not matter…we still kept fighting on…we never let down…or let up…what we can become…

Yes our day did not go as we had hoped, but I choose to focus on what did go well…how we ended from our loss of the last set. The performance I saw from all of you in the last set was well worth the day we had overall. We literally put it all out on the court…what we can become…

Now build on that one set of “fight”…build on that feeling of what you all can do on the court…build on that character that drove you to give it your all, because the next time we battle (and play consistently like this), it will be the birth of this team…What We Have Become!

Coach Warren

Small, But Steady Steps

Crossfire Tournament
Pool Play: 3 – 3
We spilt with every team in Pool Play which by points landed us in Silver

We went undefeated in Silver Bracket: 4 – 0
Silver Champions!

What does this mean? To me it means we are taking steps towards getting better and better to compete at the level commensurate with our age group and higher… To me it means that little by little our team is learning…learning how to play…yes how to play. Everyone who joined this team, in my opinion, did not know how to play competitive volleyball. I am sorry; I do not mean to slight the team or their previous coaches…you all played volleyball, but not competitive volleyball…not advanced volleyball. And from what I am seeing tournament by tournament, you are learning it; advanced volleyball.

What about practices…in practice you are taught the concepts of advanced volleyball, but you do not play it. In practice we scrimmage advanced volleyball styles, but you do not play it. You only play advanced volleyball during a select (not all) of varsity high school matches (regionals, sectionals, and state), Club Tournaments, Qualifiers, Regionals, and Nationals… You see advanced volleyball is a mentality. Doing the best you can do, above all the rest, all the time. I am not stating that committing errors is not being at your best…you can have errors and be at your best, but if you have errors playing average to lower than that, then it is difficult to play competitively.

No team dominated us to win this past Saturday; we lost points and momentum on our errors. However each of our team players made outstanding feats, some lasting throughout entire matches…that’s the whole concept of playing competitive volleyball…advanced volleyball… your best consistent playing ability. Good job team; more will be required of you….

Last practice I stated working towards a bid at the INDY Qualifier… with small steady steps we will get to be a very competitive team in INDY, but we must have everyone playing at their best together (consistently) as a team. Let’s set our sights on that…advanced volleyball….small, but steady steps… 3 weeks to go!

Coach Warren


We Achieved a New “Beginning”

What a day we had…Sunday. After being placed in a 3rd seating, we came very close to beating the #1 seed in the 2nd set… ahead by a 7 point margin, we lost 21-19. In the second match versus the #2 seed team, we split sets… However, against the #4 seed, unfortunately we could not find our true selves and ended up splitting sets to a team, in my opinion, was below our skill level ability. Pool Play results: 2 – 4

We placed in the Silver Bracket. My thoughts always are to get in Gold or win Silver. The only problem was that the team we met in the Silver Championship Match, after beating the 4th seeded team in two straight sets, was tall and had “seasoned” players. Seasoned players are those not new to club or competitive volleyball, they tend to play smart, and objectively attack balls with very little free ball action if possible.


In short, we won. We beat them in two straight sets and won the Silver medal, but by no means was that the highlight of the day. While I was excited to see our team fight back from “adversity” (remember my notes from last week?) and finally win after a month of tournaments, on my drive home I reflected on something totally different than being gratified with the Silver medal. During the second set of the championship match, I remember telling Mary my asst coach, they (our team) are now seeing the game wide range. What does this mean? The first thing in volleyball you must learn is reading and then “doing”. Once individuals learn to incorporate a fast combination of reading /doing it advances one’s ability to play at higher levels. When you can quickly read the actions of the opponent, provide the ability to react and attack with full force, whether that is serving, setting, digging, hitting, blocking…when you are playing a step before your opponent…that is advanced volleyball; that is what I am striving for consistently from our team. They showed it today in the Silver Championship match.

We achieved a new “beginning” of play; that is the ability to observe the “form of entity” (or simply put “the thing”) before it happens (reading), and taking the necessary action (doing), to make it all come together quickly.

We have a long way to go, but if we continue our path, we will………………… finish the statement!

Coach Warren

H2 Illini Black 16 INFO / President’s Day Tourney 17-19 Feb

This weekend was the President’s Day Tourney in St Louis… Adversity… Hardship, difficulty, misfortune, hard-times… Adversity… What could be more than the truth for our team this weekend? As a coach you work all month on volleyball techniques, skill and overall performance improvement and after all is done you still end up with a 1 – 7 result with a loss for words to reflect how to move forward to the next show… Adversity… The learning step here is life lessons; volleyball or any other sport you coach or play is a life lesson. Sport teaches one to contend and overcome ups and downs of life, because life is sports.

Reflecting on our team after try-outs, we barely made it out of the starting block… on the verge of not having a full team, we have been able to 1) create line-ups without a true MB; 2) play in a division with ¾ of the team under the age of the division; 3) ¾ of the team never achieving varsity level in high school; 4) getting a college coach who believes in teaching advanced methods of volleyball when players’ have stated that their previous coaches would “run them” for doing the things they do on this team; and 5) having the team’s average height of 5’5.

Now let’s reflect on the above paragraph:

  1. We have competed well running three players in the MB position to the point where in a pinch they will be able to do so on other teams if need be; not just having a presence in that position and getting set “2’s”, but running “1’s”, “3’s”, and “slides” effectively…along with BLOCKING.
  2. Age is not a factor… our youngest is one of our best players on the team; any mental factor from that area is non-existent… Plus, we all compete with my college players too!
  3. Varsity level volleyball is their goal and depending on their “continued improvement”, I have no doubt they will make it.
  4. While it is taking some time to adjust, their advanced practice skill work is good, but the struggle is applying it to live action, which takes time, but it will come (such as passing with hands, hands to the face digging, or the biggie the “Tri-Factor Defense”…yes team; that is name of the defense you are doing)
  5. And finally, HEIGHT…like their coach, you just go and show your opponent being 5’6 is being 6’6 in mind… we just time it right!

In other words, through our season adversity will be our friend… We are going to have struggles and play teams that “are seasoned more than us”, but remember where we started… and look at ourselves now. All of you have improved. When we get consistency in our play, we will compete and dominate other teams to the point where no win will be an easy one for any team… if they win! That is my goal for this team. This is our life for this team.

We Did Not Win….But We Did

Overall SWIC Tournament Set Record: 3 – 7

Pool Play
0 – 2 Vs Black Diamond VBC 17
1 – 1 Vs CC Elite VBC 17
0 – 2 Vs NSSC 172
(4th Place Finish)

Silver Bracket
2 – 1 Vs Serves U Right

Silver Bracket Final
0 – 2 Vs CC Elite: 0 – 2

“We did not win…but we did” is just my thought of how our day went. Granted our team has only two out of eight players who are actually 16. The remaining six are comprised of 14 and 15 age players, and this was a 17’s tournament; I wanted to enter a higher bracketed tourney prior to the big upcoming President’s Day Tournament to prepare us for a multitude of talent across the mid-west and surrounding regions… Regardless of finishing 4th (1 – 5) in Pool Play, this team of ours showed me that they are capable of playing in high levels of competition.

We were strong throughout the day with no domination from any team we played. Our struggles were mind (psyche) based, not physical or skill deficient. I believe this is positive because we are developing to become better competitive high level players, as a team. I believe this is positive because we finished 6th out of 8 teams, but I saw our true ability (today) to have finished 3rd in a 17’s tournament.

We should have….but we did not… however we learned what our true abilities are (and are not, which we will improve on)….so we did not win…but in my opinion, we won; now we just need to apply those lessons learned, put it all together…and show it!

Coach Warren


Team Illini U16 Striving High!

H2 Illini West 16U Black
Greenville Panther Classic II
3 Feb / G16U
8 Team Tournament (8 Team Single Elimination Bracket)

Overall Set Record
Pool Play: 5 – 1
Tournament Play: 1 – 2

We finished 2nd in our pool consisting of the following teams:

Springfield Shock 16 Premier
F  United 16EB

In tournament play and lost in 3 sets to Aces 16 LN.

I saw enormous improvement from our first match on 7 Jan. The Greenville match was only our 2nd one of the season. The entire team was very positive and focused on improvement. I am very excited about working with this group of players so they can reach their individual goals along with being part of an outstanding organization as H2.

Next week we play at SWIC in a 17U Tournament which will prepare us for the President’s Day Event the following weekend.