Thursday, April 20, 2006

Volleyball Game 4

Tonight was our fourth volleyball game of the season. Having seen many of the teams practice, this was the team I was most worried about playing. They have three players from the high school team. Individually they are one of the more advanced teams in the league.

We started out slow. Half the team was not moving - at all. At one point I looked on the court and saw three different players standing on their heels. I could see air under the toes of their shoes. I called a quick timeout and tried to get my players pumped up a bit. Fortunately I had one player who was almost overly hyped up. She was practically bouncing around. She took it on herself to try and get everyone else pumped up also. It worked, sort of. Most of the rest of the team finally started playing better. We had dug ourselves quite a hole to climb out of and were just getting started when the game ended with my team on the losing end of an 18-25 loss.

We switched sides of the court and it was a much better game. We lost the second game 21-25. But in this game we just got outplayed. We were moving the ball around better, returning serve much better and actually ran several set-spike combinations. Our spiking was a little off and the ball was sailing wide or long. But at least they were running the plays and taking the shots.

Our opponents were running set-spike combinations really well. They really did a good job of taking advantage of their strongest players. I think getting beaten this way will be good for my team. They got to see first hand why I have been harping on running a coordinated offense. I think they finally started getting the message tonight.

In the third practice game I had players diving for balls, passing to the setter, making good sets, and taking pretty good swings at the ball. We won that game 15-13 and think they started to see how I want them to play.

There were two highlights of the night tonight for me. The youngest smallest player on my team has had a horrible time serving. She is still trying to serve underhand. She struggles to just get the ball to the net. She has not gotten a ball over the net since the first game of the season. Tonight in the second game she served 5 consecutive serves. Three of them aces. They were not impressive serves. They were not powerful serves. But they were over the net and in bounds. But what I liked seeing the most was the glow of confidence in my players face as each successive serve cleared the net. By the time she had finished her 5th serve she was grining so wide her face looked like it was going to split in two.

My second highlight was my daughter's serving. She has been working, not too successfully at moving her serves around. She has been pretty much a soft down the line overhand server. Tonight she was putting a lot more heat on the ball, and a little top spin also. She was hitting long at all three backcourt positions. She also dropped a couple serves in on the front row.

I love watching a player who has been wotking hard on something finally make the breakthrough to things working like they should. Tonight I got to see two of them do just that. Its too bad they had to lose the match. But like I always tell my daughter, some of the most exciting, entertaining and memorable volleyball games I ever played in, I lost.

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