My 14 and under club team played in their first tournament this last Saturday. Normally SCVA tournaments start at 8 AM. This would mean that we have leave here around 4 Am in order to get to the tournament site on time. But for this first tournament we were scheduled to start at 3PM. This meant that we didn't have to leave town until around 11:30. So we pulled out around 10:30 and decided to stop on the way down for lunch. Unfortunately my plans of a team lunch together evaporated once we hit the road as each driver and their occupants decided to eat somewhere different.
We got to the American Sports Center in Anaheim around 2:15 in the afternoon. Needless to say my players were impressed. The American Sports Center houses 22 volleyball courts in one large room. When my players first walked inside they just stood and stared. I'm pretty sure that none of them had ever seen anything like that before.
I gave them a brief tour of the facilities and then we got a camp spot set up outside. I went over some team rules for them while we were there. Then we moved back inside to find a spot to warm up.
Normally the tournaments put each team in a foursome that plays a round robin. For each team to play each other takes 6 matches. This format takes about six hours to get through. But since they only had about 40 teams scheduled or the afternoon session we were about to use two courts at a time. So instead of playing a match, resting, then playing again we played three back to back matches. Three hours, six games and we were through.
My players started out struggling. Our first opponent was not a really strong team, but we were not playing well at all. My players were still pretty awed by the whole experience. Since I wasn't able to get a scrimmage for them, this was our first real game together as a team.
The first game was over before it could really get started. My players were not moving, not passing and not serving. We lost 8-25. The second game seemed to get even worse. I used my timeouts, and tried talking to them during the three minute break between games. But all I could do was wait until they finally decided to settle down. Then near the end of the second game my girls finally seemed to hear what I had been telling them. It was just a volleyball court, it was the same size, shape and layout as every other court they had ever been on, and all they had to do was play the game. We scored several late points but ran out of time and lost the second game 13-25.
Match 2 and 3 were a completely different story. My players were passing better, moving better and even got in several spikes. We won the second match 25-21 and 25-14. Our third match was more of the same with two 26-16 wins.
We finished the day 2-1 in matches and 4-2 in games. I think there were two other teams that also finished 2-1 and the last team that finished 0-3. The way SCVA determines tie breakers is match results, then game results and finally the ratio of points scored over points allowed. I don't know how the other teams scores went but I suspect that our big losses in the first match are going to cost us. We will finish somewhere between first and third. But we have to wait until SCVA posts the results to know for sure.
The girls all had fun. I hope they have also started to realize that this is serious volleyball. Several of them still treat club ball like a social circle where they hang out with their friends and occasionally play a little volleyball. I started upping the intensity at our last practice. Hopefully they will respond positively.