“Focus on the journey, not the destination.  Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”
 – Greg Anderson

January 23rd marked the first road trip for the 2016 403 Selects 15U Girls Volleyball Team.  Our focus has always been the journey, and not the destination.  This marked the beginning of our competition journey to which the girls have looked forward to all week.  Our first match was against a familiar foe, Seven Persons Wolves.  There were signs of nerves, but that soon abated.   We dropped our first set, very close, 21-25 coming back from behind most of the set and just falling short in the end.  The second set started very similar, falling behind and battling back.  This time the girls were able to triumph with a 26-24 set victory.  A very well played first match.  The Booster Juice Player of the Match went to Addison, who lead the team with 6 kills, and 0.750 HIT%, and 100% serves in with one ace!  A well-earned smoothie from Booster Juice!

Our second match put us against a 16U squad from Vulcan, Alberta.  This match provided an opportunity to practice using a libero, in preparation for our President’s Day Tournament in San Mateo, CA.  Running equal lines, 403 was able to take both sets in victory 25-16 and 25-18.  Our offensive leader with one ace, and 4 kills was Halle who certainly earned her Booster Juice Player of the Match smoothie.

With a break to refuel and hydrate, the girls used their time to be together and get to know each other better before preparing for our third match of the day.  With 3 of 4 set victories under their belt, the girls set out against a very tough LVC 16U team.  In a very hard fought and close battle back and forth, LVC edged out a 28-26 victory in the first set.  Undeterred, our girls fought back with tough serving and attacks and forged a 26-24 victory in what proved to be the best display of volleyball on this day!  Leading the team this match with 5 kills, 1 ace, 7 digs, and a 0.625 HIT% was Emileigh, our next Booster Juice Player of the Match!

Even with a solid 4 of 6 set victories in the round robin, it proved to be not quite enough to put us in the championship playoff.  With tie breaking procedures, Seven Person’s narrowly edged us out for second place in the pool.

Our consolation finish set us up for an in-house show down with our own 14U 403 Selects.  The 15U squad started strong taking a 10-0 lead, but that did stop the 14U team from fighting back.  The 14U team took the lead at 16-15 after some very strong serving and the game was on.  In a marathon finish, the 14U team eked out a 31-29 victory in the first set.  Falling behind quickly in the second set, a 15U time out provided some needed guidance.  After a 10-2 lead by the 14U’s, the 15U girls chose to fight back.  They were able to turn an 8 point deficit into a 5 point victory taking the set 25-20.  On strong serving in the third set, the 15U squad took the set and match 15-4.  A great match played by our 14U team, whom appear to have a very successful future on the horizon.  Madison was key in our rally back, firing out 6 aces, 9 assists, and 3 digs – our Booster Juice Player of the Match.

Resting players recovering from prior injuries, and another event for our multisport athletes, our team had 9 players for the final match of the weekend.  It was a long day, and a spirited match with Panthers Stealth concluded our road trip to Lethbridge.  Coach Cowper took the opportunity to mix up line-ups and have players play secondary positions to what they may be used to.  Stealth took the first set 19-25.  Fighting back, 403 took the second set 25-17.  Players responded very well.  In the third set, the girls fought it out but came up short 10-15 to conclude a fantastic day of learning, training and competing.  Shelby earned our final Booster Juice Player of the Match award.

This weekend showed great promise of what is to come this season.  With the day behind us, we head back to the training gym this week to continue to prepare for the next stage in our 2016 journey.