My oldest daughter and I got home from Las Vegas last night around 5:20 PM. We were both tired, and we think she is getting sick.
This morning (I had planned on taking today off work) she is still in bed - sick.
We left for the Las Vegas Invitational Tournament Friday morning around 10 AM. We picked up our three passengers (a parent and two other players). Then we hit the Trona Rd. heading for Las Vegas. Since it was a holiday weekend I had no intention of getting anywhere near I15. The last thing I wanted to deal with this weekend was a highway full of idiots from Los Angeles all trying to get to, or home from, Las Vegas as fast as they could. So we went through Death Valley to get there. The drive wasn't too bad. The road is a little rough in spots, but the lack of traffic sure make up for that. Sure it took a full four hours to get there. But I'll trade that extra 30 minutes on the road for only seeing 50 cars on the highway over a 200 mile stretch any day.
We got to Vegas and got checked into our Casino around 3 PM. We were staying at Arizona Charlies Casino on Decatur Blvd. It is an older place that isn't kid or health friendly. Meaning the entire casino, hotel and restaurants reek of cigarette smoke. Even the non-smoking rooms smell bad. Because even on the floors full of non-smoking rooms, people walk around the hallways smoking. So we took 9 young athletes to a three day volleyball tournament and dumped them into a smoke filled environment surrounded by sex and gambling for the weekend. Next year my daughter and I don't care where the team is staying. We will be booking a room in a motel, not a casino. We were there for the volleyball tournament, not the casino atmosphere. We're not sure why the director was there.
Friday night I was signed up to work the Unsigned Seniors Showcase. This is a two hour volleyball practice where unsigned seniors can show off their talents for all the college recruiters that were there for the tournament. I spend the first half hour serving at girls. This was exhausting. I have served for 10 or 1 minutes at a time, but never for 30 minutes. I did get a chance for a break after 20 minutes, but it only lasted 1 minuted before the coach on the other side of the court needed me to spell him. So it was back to serving again. After serving I had to toss balls to hitter for the next 40 minutes. This wasn't nearly as tiring as the serving. Actually I really had fun. After spending so much time on the court with 14s players, it was really different tossing balls for girls who really know how to hit.
The second session was full of setters. We ran a coach on three drill for about 30 minutes, I started out warming the players up for about 10 minutes, then this (much) younger coach took over and really ran them through their paces while I just shagged and feed balls for her. The second half of that session they moved our setters onto a court with several middles and two other coaches. So the three of us who had been working the setters didn't have much to do. Mostly I spent the last half hour shagging balls, and keeping people from wandering onto the courts. The showcase was fun, and I will probably volunteer to help out again next year. After all, I got a polo shirt and a $10 Subway gift card out of the deal. OK, so the pay wasn't great, but it did give me a chance to maybe help some young player get a chance to play volleyball in college. That made it worth while.
On Saturday we played in the top pool of the tournament at the Cashman Center on Las Vegas Blvd. Our pool consisted of the number one seed team in the tournament, 801 from Utah. Also the numbers 78 and 79 teams from Central Ohio and Colorado Springs, CO. Yes, we were the 156 (last place) seeded team in the tournament. Our team managed to put a scare into the team from Colorado Springs, losing the second game to them 24-26. The rest of the day was pretty much our girls getting whacked. Our second best game of the day was a 16-25 loss to the number one seeded team.
Since we had the afternoon off, and all of Sunday morning off, we took the team to the Tournament of Kings Show at the Excalibur. This dinner show was a lot of fun. It is a lot more theatrical than the Medieval Times dinner show down in La Palma. I prefer the Medieval Times show because there is a lot more horsemanship, combat skills and fighting. This show had a lot of pageantry and showmanship to it. But it was still entertaining. After dinner we decided to walk the strip with the girls for a while. Unfortunately this adventure got a bit out of hand and we ended up walking about a mile farther than most of the girls and parents wanted to walk. So by the time we got the players back to the Casino, they were all exhausted.
The next morning, no one else would get up in the morning with us, so my daughter and I rolled out of bed around 9 AM, we had breakfast at the IHop down the street, then did some shopping. We hit a couple shoe stores, and the Meadows Mall.
That afternoon our team was playing much better. We still didn't win any matches. But we did managed to take the first two teams we played to three games. Our third match was against our old friends from the Tehachapi Starlings team. This team and ours usually match up pretty well. The girls all get along and we have had a friendly rivalry going steadily since the beginning of last year. Unfortunately they were ready for us in that match and we provided them with the only two games, and the one match they won all weekend.
This last place finish in the second day of pool competition put us into flight 5a for the Monday competition. Monday was a single elimination bracket with 6 other teams. Unfortunately we showed up half asleep, with half the team starting to get sick, and we lost our first match of the day - 19-25, 15-25. So we had to hang around and keep score for the next match then we headed for home. We stopped by an A&W for lunch before leaving Las Vegas, again, to travel home through Death Valley. I was only about 10 minutes down the road when all three girls fell asleep. They only woke up as we reached potential bathroom stops when we asked if they needed to stop. They didn't, so we just shot straight on through to home.
By the time I went to bed last night the final results of the tournament were posted online. We started the tournament seeded in last place. We finished the tournament tied for last place with 6 other teams. When all was said and done, we were on of 8 teams in the tournament who did not win any matches. But, of those eight teams at least we were not one of the three who also did not win any games.
I think the tournament was fun. My daughter came home sick, tired and sick and tired of losing. The team had some troubles this tournament, but they also had some bright spots. I just hope that each of them learned something.