For those of you who can’t remember the days of playing as 12 and 13 year olds, I thought we would give you a little glimpse into the ups and downs of what you probably went through and what we are currently going through.
We didn’t have the excitement of a bid event this week like the older teams but we were back on the court playing in a 13s tournament.
We’ve talked before about the unique challenges playing up for 12s presents (heavier ball, higher net). Those problems are old-hat for this “veteran” bunch of 12 year olds.
So in need of a challenge, we decided to play this week without a setter (Washington DC), a defensive specialist (Mexico), and a coach (Indy). The remaining seven players made the job pretty easy for the lone coach — no substitutions needed — iron girl volleyball with a libero.
Pool play was fairly uneventful as the team went 1-1 finishing second in the three team pool, learning some new positions and rotations. In the first round of the playoffs, the team made quick work of the Hometown Hitters 13s setting up a semi-final match against TESL Red 12s.
The girls had just defeated TESL Red 12s in the Premier League but it felt a little bit tainted as TESL was down a player (defensive specialist). They were at full strength in this tournament so a victory would certainly make a statement.
Set one went to TESL in a close fight and set two went to H2 in another close battle. Thus set up the roller coaster set number three that I thought I would try to describe for you (though my heart races a bit just thinking about it).
TESL – Game 3
Following a 19-17 victory in the second set, overcoming a late deficit. Game three started with an interesting choice by the H2 captain as she won the toss and decided to receive and choose the side…this was not something that the coach had discussed at all, just an interesting move from a 12 year old.
First point of the game to H2 so apparently it was a very smart, strategic move (she has since been coached to always take serve)!
H2 jumped out to a 4-0 lead and things were looking good and then…the swarm. Before the girls could blink, the score was 4-12 (hitting errors and second balls dropping were the key issues) and it wasn’t looking good. I think the TESL server was worn out from getting so many points as she finally missed to give H2 their 5th point. The girls rattled off a couple more points to make it 7-12, then 7-13, then 8-14 — one more point and TESL would advance.
One of the TESL players hit the net on a spike attempt and Anna went back to the line. Serve after serve went in. Kennedy played very smart at the net getting multiple kills and Lexi, Gabby, Kate, and Ella wouldn’t let a ball hit the ground as Ellie yelled encouragement and tried to keep her coach calm on the sideline.
Anna kept up the pressure through two time outs and the match ended with a 16-14 victory as their player couldn’t return the third ball on the final point.
Coach and parents had to bring down their blood pressure but it was an impressive seven point run to end the match and a super-dramatic comeback.
Unfortunately we couldn’t use that energy and momentum in the finals and had 19 and 20 errors respectively against the Stars to drop the match in two sets.
If anyone knows how to bottle the energy from our third set, shoot me an email and we’ll start a business!
Great effort for a team that was down a couple players and a great reminder to all that at age 12, you NEVER, EVER know what to expect.
Three practices to go and we go to Kansas City to attempt to qualify for nationals. The team RV is getting warmed up and the girls are ready to give it their all.