When the schedule came out for Mandatory 4 we were scheduled to play at Citrus College. This was a wonderful location for us. It is one of the closest to home locations that we could draw, and the start time was delayed until 9 AM. Which meant that we would not have to leave town until around 6 AM which is much better than our usual 4-5 AM departure times. But the day after the schedule came out it changed. Suddenly we were scheduled to play at TBD. Man, I really hate playing at TBD, the facilities there are really bad.
Finally on Friday, a third schedule was released and we were scheduled to play at the Home Depot Center in Carson CA at 8 AM. So we were back to a 4:45 departure time in order to get there in time.
We were the number two team in the pool which meant that we didn't play until the second match, but we had to officiate the first match, so at least five of our players had to be at the Home Depot Center by 8 AM.
For those of you who have never played volleyball at the Home Depot Center it is a really unique environment to play in. The Home Depot Center is also known as the Los Angeles Velodrome. The Velodrome is a large indoor wooden bicycle race track. The infield of the track is a large enough space that they can set up 5 volleyball courts in it. Last year the U16s team my daughter was on played a tournament in the Velodrome. I hated it. The parents have to stay off the court. So they sit outside the bicycle track and watch the volleyball games from over 100 feet away. Between the spectators and the courts is a large black net that keeps the balls from flying out onto the bicycle track. However, this year being down on the court as a coach I didn't mind the place so much. There is plenty of room around the courts, it's actually kind of quiet down there. And the roof is really high, there are no overhead obstructions to get in the way. This however did bother a few of our players. They felt like they were playing in a really large fishbowl. Which is actually pretty fitting. The hitters and setters took a little time to adjust to the fact that the roof was so far away.
Our pool for the tournament consisted of teams from Bakersfield, Victorville and Pasadena. So the Arroyo team from Pasadena was the only team that didn't have to deal with a long drive that morning.
In our first match against the Arroyo Volleyball Club Team from Pasadena. Our Starlings started out a little slow, but quickly got organized and got used to the size of the venue we were playing in. They won that first match in two games - (25-18 and 25-15). Following that match we had our only break of the day. Then it was back on the court for a match against the Bakersfield Volleyball Club. The match my players looked a little more like the team I was used to seeing. Which is not a good thing. After winning the first game 25-19 the girls slacked off a little and tried to take it easy for the second game. This led to a 19-25 loss in the second game, and for the first time this season actually started a little bit of barking and snapping at each other on the court. Fortunately they were able to get things together for the third game. We played pretty even until the side change then my front row took over the game and we ran away with a 15-11 victory.
Following that match was our second officiating duty of the day, then our last match.
The final match of the pool was the 2-0, number one seed team from the White Lightening Volleyball Club in Victorville CA against our also 2-0 Ridgecrest Starlings. The way the other matches had worked out this match was for first place. The loser was going to finish in second. Our servers came out of the shoot hot in this match and when we really started spiking the game ended quickly - 25-16. Unfortunately that quick easy win led my still young and relatively inexperienced players to think that they second game would be just as easy. It wasn't. In a back and forth game where our opponents pretty much abandoned their attacking offense in favor of playing defense to counter our attackers both teams stayed close most of the game. Eventually we gained a small lead and held on for a 25-22 victory.
This left us in 1st place and will move us up to division 12 in two weeks. I hope my girls are ready for that. So far this season the only tournament that was not a first or second place finish for us was Mandatory 2, the one and only time we played in division 12.
Highlights for the day were Alyssa serving 36 times with zero errors and Ashley recording 13 aces in just 30 serves. Oh, and the ice cream I had to buy, because they finished first place again. Yeah, I know I guy who is supposed to be teaching them about healthy lifestyle choices buying them ice creams seems a little contradictory. But what the heck, it they keep winning, I'll keep buying ice cream.