16 Cardinal Takes 4th at National Qualifier!

Courtesy of Maureen Redig, Champion Shot Sports Photography

H2 Saint Louis 16 Cardinal came to Denver determined to make a statement and win a National Qualifier. They were excited to have everyone back on the court after several team members were sidelined with injuries.  Going into the first game of pool play on Friday, they looked a little shaky while running a 6-2 and dropping the first game 19-25.  Head Coach Michael Loyd switched to a 5-1 for the next game, and the girls immediately found their groove, winning the match in 3 … they would go on to win the next two matches in two sets each.  The girls were excited to be 3-0, but they knew the next day was pivotal to move them on to Gold. 

 Day two was an early morning pool, but the girls were ready once again to represent St. Louis!  They took the next two matches in two against OK Charge and Arrowhead X Factor.  The next match against Aspire Black was the make it or break it match.  Lose and they would play a challenge match in the evening for 1st place, breaking a 3-way tie.  Win and they would advance to GOLD on Sunday and be top 16.  H2 was on their toes and won the first set 25-22. But Aspire fought hard and won the next set 18-25.  Coaches Loyd and Owens encouraged the girls before the 3rd set, to play clean and aggressive volleyball.  The girls were hungry and won the final set 15-12.   6-0 on the weekend!

The motto going into Sunday was 8, 10, 12 & 2, which were the game times to get to the championship game.  “Every girl on the team played their best volleyball, said Coach Loyd.  From blocks to hits, to passes to sets, everyone brought their A game!”   The first match(8) against Johnson National was intense, but H2 pulled out the win in 2 sets, 25-15 and 30-28.  The atmosphere and crowd were electric as other teams from St. Louis came to show their support for H2 in the semifinal match 2 (10) against the Colorado Jrs.    The Jrs. had height and were quick on their feet, and they took the first set, but not without a fight from H2 pushing it to 24-26.  Half way through the second set H2 was down 10-16.  But they were relentless and kept digging deep.   After a side out,  H2 went on a 9 point serving run led by OH Danielle Waedekin and had several huge blocks by MB Nzingha Clarke and RH Abby Fishbeck to take the lead. The 3rd set was a tremendous victory; after being down 6-12, they came back to win the set 15-13!  “Coach just kept telling us to control what we can on our side of the net, said libero Kameryn Bellinger, and we did!”  The girls were ecstatic!   Final 4!

Match 3(12) unfortunately ended the run for H2 as they lost to CVA Colorado (Crossroads Champions) in two sets, 14-25 and 20-25.   Match 4 (2) determined the 3rd place winner, and sadly, the girls couldn’t pull out the win and lost to the River City Jrs in two sets, 19-25 and 20-25.  However, in the end, their tremendous showing – top 4 out of 100+ teams, was nothing to be sad about at all.

“It was such a special weekend for these girls being that none of them had ever competed on such a huge stage,  said Coach Loyd.  Now we have our eyes set on Indy.”

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