After seven months, 10 tournaments, 130+ training hours, the 2015-2016 season for the ladies of H2 14 IL West came to an end on May 7th at the Panther Classic at Greenville College. This was a return to the 14’s division after a great 15’s tournament last weekend at PAO. The girls came out on fire pummeling a Route 3 14’s in three straight sets. The girls stayed on their sizzling ways putting on a serving clinic taking out High Impact 14 MV in three fast sets. Finishing pool play in 1st, the girls saw their first true match test against High Impact White. However the girls just kept on their service game targeting every position spot given to them taking their opponent out in rapid fashion two straight sets. On to our next test, facing yet another High Impact team, team Blue. The ladies were able to maintain their serve superiority and running away with the first set. The ladies of IL West could see the light in the final match for Gold. However, High Impact Blue had another plan. High Impact made some defensive adjustments, used timely tips and had a powerhouse outside that when set the perfect ball, rivaled some of the most powerful hitters two years or so her elder. On to a third and final set where the ladies of IL West just couldn’t get things going and went down in three to a tough Impact Blue team. The girls really used all those nightly of service practices to the “T” on this date. All day, serving was the key to keeping our opponents out of system allowing us to take advantage of our transitional speed. This was the second consecutive tournament the ladies of IL West finished 3rd in Gold.

Middle hitter Abby Johnson went off on the composite floor of Greenville, pounding down 21 kills along with two service aces. Outside hitters Asia Jansen and Megan Schleifer followed up their monster day at PAO with another offensive performance of 16 kills each, with Megan also dropping 15 service aces and Asia right there with nine aces. But no one could touch the serving clinic put on by setter Rylee Sudholt leading the way with 16 service aces. Megan Vidmar brought nine kills to the table. Meredith Heuring, in yet another stint as a middle hitter contributed six kills. But the play of the day was an epic stuff block on the Route 3 middle who is at least a foot taller than her. I think those in the other gym came down to see what that sound was! Libero Lannie Kaercher, DS’s Jordan Carroll and Grace Braun solidified a nice back row rotation keeping the hitters nice and fresh in a sweltering gym providing pinpoint passing and sustaining our transitional tempo to the hitters.

As this season comes to a close for the ladies of H2 14 IL West, I look back at the first practice back on November 2nd. When I gave them my expectations, the level of training we’ll be targeting and tournament competition we’ll be seeking, these girls had no idea what to say. They didn’t have to, I saw it in their eyes. They were hungry! We started off the first practice at 100mph and never let off the gas, even to the final practice on May 5th. Through all the bruised red forearms, through all of the hip and quad bruises, through all of the sore hands in blocking drills, through all of the bleeding (only happened a couple of times) and most of all, through all of the tears, I saw these young ladies transform into true volleyball players. I set a goal to make them the most intelligent volleyball players on the court. From not knowing all of the hitting positions, what a seam serve was, why we target the setter on serve, Slides, Slide 3’s, shoots, back court attacks and knee drops, these girls now know more than so many of their peers. But most of all, I’d have to say what they taught me. My girls taught me patience (they may say otherwise), they taught me resilience, they taught me humility and they taught me that “they got it”. I always tell them that I’m never satisfied with their play and I hope they are never satisfied either. But what I am, is impressed. To take a team with only three girls with club experience into a 14’s tournament where a coach remembers our play from a 15’s tournament was amazing. To have a coach in awe that this was the first year these girls have played together. I can say I feel like a proud Papa to these ladies. They never seemed to amaze me on and off the court, even when I looked unimpressed. I am so grateful for the opportunity to coach these 10 young ladies. So Tori and I say, thank you ladies for a great and memorable first season together.