With the St. Louis qualifier now less than a week away, the H2 12 UA team played up a level this past Saturday in the TESL 13 tournament.
Granted, most teams play up at one time or another and it’s not that big of a deal. As a reminder, playing up from the 12s to the 13s is a big deal as the ball gets heavier, the net gets higher, and the opponents get bigger – all pretty substantial adjustments.
The girls challenges: 1. Had the volleyball adjustments to make; 2. Aren’t really fond of playing early in the morning; and 3. They had the excitement of a team overnight party looming later in the day.
Pool play began and the team played like they were trying to overcome the aforementioned three obstacles. Each of the three pool play matches ended in a 1-1 result. The good news is that H2 had a better net score against each opponent so they headed to the gold round as the second seed in their pool.
Unfortunately, the up and down pool play performance meant a match against the top overall seed, TESL 13 Red in the first round of the playoffs.
The first set of the semi-final match was closely contested but the H2 girls managed to stay ahead throughout and ended up winning 19-15. Of course, based on the pool play results from the morning, you knew there was a pretty good chance that they would be going to three sets.
Once again, H2 didn’t disappoint the fans who were looking for bonus volleyball. TESL came out fired up, H2 came out, we’ll just say not as fired up, and the result was a 19-7 whipping by TESL.
The third and final set was even more closely contested than the first set. Neither team could get much traction. H2 was ahead at the turn 8-4 only to see TESL come back within one at 8-7. The teams traded points most of the rest of the way. With a slim 14-13 lead, H2 was the beneficiary of a missed serve and claimed the victory 15-13.
While the girls caught their breath, on the other side of the finals bracket, TESL 13 Black defeated Team Momentum 12s in straight sets meaning that the gold final would be a pool play re-match between H2 12s and TESL 13 Black.
In perhaps one of the best coaching moves in the history of volleyball, the H2 coaches said that if the girls didn’t play hard and have fun, their overnight party would be cancelled. Apparently everyone really wanted to have that party as H2 came out bombing aggressive serves and won the match 19-2, 19-8.
With their first 13s medal under their belt, the girls get ready for the St. Louis qualifier this coming weekend. They will be playing in the highest division but expectations are high and the girls are ready for whatever is thrown at them.
P.S. The pictures this week are the obligatory medal shot and then a picture of the girls in the RV, heading to party. Rumors abound that the RV may be the Kansas City qualifier transportation as well. Stay tuned!