It seems like such a short time ago, when we prepared the recap of provincials, that we commented on how quickly the season had gone. Now, just like that, the Nationals have also come and gone in a flash. With the season done, the 403 15U girls will go about during the last month of school and their summer holidays, carrying on with friends, family and such. We all have a strong feeling though, that through all that, they will not forget our weekend at the 15U Canadian Western Open.

Our weekend didn’t start out all roses and sunshine. On Saturday, in our first day of round robin play, the girls came up short in each match. The skills were there and the girls were working hard but there seemed to be a lack of general pizzazz and passion. The evening finished with a good team chat about how we wanted to do at Nationals; how they wanted to remember their last weekend together as at team. The general consensus was that they needed to have fun out there, play hard and leave everything on the court so there would be no regrets looking back. Not sure if it was the exceptional post-game chat (nice one coaches!!!), a good night’s sleep, or maybe both, but the girls came ready to work again on Sunday.

Sunday’s games continued to prove a challenge to the girls. Each player had to take responsibility, do their job on the court and stay positive through frustrating ups and downs. The first two games on Sunday continued in Saturday’s unfortunate fashion. Although they were working hard, the girls came up short in their first 2 matches against Prairie Fire from Prairie La Portage and Aztecs from Winkler. Maybe the girls had decided to save all their gumption to the end of the day. In our last match, they faced Queen’s Ultimate, whom we had played before. The girls were hungry for a win and ended up beating Queens in 3 exciting games. What a great way to end the day!

Because of the way that the games had unfolded in our pool, there was a 3 way tie between our 403 girls, Queens, Aztecs. The deciding match was being played as we were leaving the gym and based on the outcome of that match, we would either end up 1st in our pool, or 3rd. Unfortunately, we ended up 3rd in our pool which bumped us down to tier 4 in division 2. Although this was a small disappointment, the girls set about their day with determination and enthusiasm. We remember running a warm-up in which the girls were hitting the ball like crazy and passing dimes. The energy was just oozing out of them and the coaches all had a feeling that it would be a great day!

In the quarter finals on Monday morning, we were up against the RVC Cyclones from Regina. The girls beat this team in 2 games straight and were pumped as they made their way into the semi-finals where we were to meet Shock from Winnipeg. We don’t know if it was because it was the semi-finals or if the girls had eaten something especially awesome, but there was no way that our 403 girls weren’t going to be in the final. They handily beat this team 25-11 and 25-13. Each player brought out their ‘A’ game for this match. Consistent passing allowed our setter Amanda to push some fantastic balls out to her hitters. And the hitters did not disappoint! It was a great game to watch and had us all even more fired up for the finals.

In the finals we met up against BCO Red from Mission. After coming out of the semi-final energized, the girls started this final match a little bit flat and lost the 1st set 19-25. The girls met up at the end of the bench following that 1st set and had a great little pow-wow. None of us coaches are exactly sure what was said, or what their new cheer was all about (wink wink) but we didn’t ask too many questions when the girls stepped out on the court. They took the 2nd set, beating BCO 25-19. Each point that was scored revved them up even more. The girls were jumping in to the middle of the court with each successful rally and you could just feel the energy in the gym. In the 3rd and last set of Nationals, and of the season, the girls did just as we had discussed earlier on in the weekend. They left it all on the court. There was no going half way in this game. Each player contributed to the win, doing their job to the fullest and best of their abilities. As the points chipped away on the score board and the elusive 15th point became nearer and nearer the coaches were able to sit back and watch their team perform all of the things that we had worked so hard to achieve during the season. No one will never forget the as the ball hit the ground on that last point and Jenna, Vince and Diane watched as our girls jumped into the air screaming and cheering, hugging and celebrating. This feeling is what we play for.

Jenna, Vince and Diane are so proud of this group of athletes and feel they should be proud of themselves and of each other. Individually, each player has improved so much over the season. They were willing to take the risks necessary to achieve growth which is a difficult thing to do. Each filled their role on the team with grace, always working hard to get to that next level of play, pushing themselves and each other to do better. As a team, this group also formed bonds that are often difficult to achieve among female teams. I encourage each of them to remember this season and its highs and lows, to learn from their experiences and to take these lessons on with them both in volleyball and in life. These are the experiences that you will remember for your lifetime.

Congratulations on a fantastic and winning season,
Diane, Jenna and Vince