Miami Tournament – April 9-10

Obligatory Team Huddle Picture

Obligatory Team Huddle Picture

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.”

Defensive specialist Faith, playing right side, unloads a carefully crafted crazy cool cross court kill.

Defensive specialist Faith, playing right side, unloads a carefully crafted crazy cool cross court kill.

With the quick jab step Audrey produces a pleasing perfectly placed pass.

With the quick jab step Audrey produces a pleasing perfectly placed pass.

Amanda takes to heart the coaching mantra: Reach High, Hit High

Amanda takes to heart the coaching mantra: Jump High, Hit High

Danielle and Faith choreographing their two-man pass routine.

Danielle and Faith choreographing their two-man pass routine.

Taylor with the aggressive alert alive and accurate attack.

Taylor with the aggressive alert alive and accurate attack.

Quick middle attack by Grace with an assist by Anna.

Quick middle attack by Grace with an assist by Anna. Audrey provides coverage in the unlikely event of a block.

If the blocker has not jumped yet she is not going to block Ashley's middle attack.

If the blocker has not jumped yet she is not going to block Ashley’s middle attack.

Eyes on ball, Sara executes the pass.

Eyes on ball, Sara executes the pass.

Grace grabbing a few winks between matches.

Grace grabbing a few winks between matches.

Danielle does what is needed to get her platform on the ball.

Danielle does what is needed to get her platform on the ball.

Rachel plays a game between games.

Rachel plays a game between games.

Faith and Ashley combine for the stuff.

Faith and Ashley combine for the stuff.

Grace swings from the outside for the point.

Grace swings from the outside for the point.

Danielle with yet another one of her "two ball" attacks in the middle.

Danielle with yet another one of her “two ball” attacks in the middle.

Taylor with another super scintillating stinging sordid spike.

Taylor with a super scintillating stinging sordid spike.

Ashley with yet another timely kill in the middle, assist by Mel, Sara watching in admiration.

Ashley with another timely kill in the middle, assist by Mel, Sara watching in admiration.

Anna delivers the backset to the awaiting Taylor.

Anna delivers the backset to the awaiting Taylor.

Amanda rejects the attempted dink.

Amanda rejects the attempted dink.

Mel gives up her body to save a ball.

Mel gives up her body to save a ball.

Ashley and Taylor combine for the rejection.

Ashley and Taylor combine for the rejection.

Sara - always one to make a grand entrance!

Sara – always one to make a grand entrance!

Faith showing nice form on the left side attack.

Faith showing nice form on the left side attack.

I get the feeling this did not end well.

I don’t know, I just get the feeling this did not end well.

Audrey with the pleasingly picture perfect passing form.

Audrey with the pleasingly picture perfect passing form. Sara provides instructions.

Faith, Mel and Ashley executing the extremely rare front to back triple block.

Faith, Mel and Ashley executing the extremely rare, and rarely effective, front to back triple block.

Audrey pounds away at the back row set.

Audrey pounds away at the back row set.

Michelle captures a few pics.

Michelle captures a few pics.

The bleachers provide comfort to a sleepy, but wary Sara.

The bleachers provide comfort to a sleepy, but wary Sara.

Grace takes the quick set from Anna and hits over the late forming block.

Grace takes the quick set from Anna and hits over the late forming block.

Nice and low, Sarah executes one of her countless passes.

Nice and low, Sarah executes one of her countless passes.

The Tipp City Connection - Anna and Audrey

The Tipp City Connection – Anna and Audrey

Backset by Mel.

Backset by Mel.

Danielle pounds away at the tall trees.

Danielle pounds away at the tall trees.

Grrrr!

Grrrr!

I just love this shot. Amanda cutting the ball sharp cross court rendering the block ineffective.

I just love this shot. Amanda cutting the ball sharp cross court rendering the block ineffective.

The agony and the ecstasy of match point.

The agony and the ecstasy of match point.

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