This tournament was a two-day 16 American Challenge with 24 teams at Miami University. Saturday started with 6 pools of 4 teams each. The top two finishers in each initial pool moved up to form 3 pools of Gold/Silver candidates. The bottom two finishers moved down to form 3 pools of Bronze/Copper candidates. From the Gold/Silver second round pools the top two teams would move up to Gold and the bottom two down to the Silver playoffs. In the case of the three Bronze/Copper pools the top two teams would move up to Bronze and the bottom two to Copper playoffs.
Going into the tournament it was hard to predict how well we might do. There were plenty of good teams entered and we were highly ranked. However, we have not been at full strength lately. For this tournament we would be without our starting setter, have an outside hitter playing on a sprained ankle, a middle hitter with back issues, have a church confirmation class for one player, a Saturday Prom dance for another, and we would need to use a defensive specialist as an outside hitter. It would have been tempting to use these items as excuses but I am reminded of an old saying: “Excuses are no good. Your enemies won’t believe them and your friends don’t need them.” So we did what good teams do, we pulled together and forged ahead. We were able to pick up a setter from our 16 White team. Thank you Anna Gilliam for spending your weekend with us.
After winning a tough 3 game match to start we won our next two matches to go 3-0 and win our initial pool. Repooling we then played our first match of the second pool late on Saturday. We started well but fell flat and lost that match, putting us in a hole to start Sunday. The new day seemed to give us some new energy as we won our next two matches, the final one in three, to give us a second place pool finish and move us into the Gold playoffs. Unfortunately, at that point we just ran out of steam, losing in the first round of the playoffs to finish 5th out of 24 teams. A coach is rarely totally satisfied so it would be wrong to say we were happy. On the other hand, we overcame a lot of obstacles and held together to make Gold. In many ways we took to heart the below Thought for the Tournament. As usually happens when you lose, you get the opportunity to ref the next match. We raided the concession stand to get enough ice to pack down some knees, ankles and backs. Given the two tough days of physical activity I am sure there will be many sound sleepers this evening.
Thought for the Tournament
“ The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is the way you use them.”