Excited for the opportunity to play against the always strong USA competition and eager to enjoy some warmer weather, the 403 Selects 16U girls set out for Phoenix, AZ on February 16th alongside the 15U and 17U teams.

Arriving into the Grand Canyon state, the girls first stop was Arizona State University where they were able to look around, have some lunch and purchase some great ASU swag! After checking in at the hotel the girls explored the Westgate area with its beautiful fountains, and many outdoor eating areas.

Day Two

The girls up were up early and ready for a spectacular (but not easy) hike up Camelback Mountain. Definitely not for the faint hearted, but well worth the effort once they reached the top and saw the view! Well done ladies! Lunch soon followed and a bit of downtime at the hotel before all the athletes, coaches and even some parents met up to enjoy a lovely Italian style club dinner together.

Day Three

The Festival Fiesta competition begins at the stunning University of Phoenix Stadium (and 6 other venues) with 392 teams vying for the top spot in each of the 8 divisions! Our 16U girls had a great first day and represented Canada well going 3-0, winning sets handly against the Juggernauts Gold2 team from Colorado and the Amazon King Size 16s and Club One Red teams from Arizona. Despite a little rain on the Independence High School court (not kidding), the girls played well and finished first in their pool. Dinner that evening was a celebration for two of our athletes who were having 16th birthdays over the weekend and the food and atmosphere at the Saddle Ranch Chophouse didn’t disappoint!

Day Four

Sunday was a stadium day for the 16U girls and wow, what a venue! The girls continued to play well but the competition was definitely heating up! The 403s lost a close first set 24-26 to the 6 player AZ Saguaros 16-1 team (perhaps named after AZ’s official state flower- the Saguaros cactus blossoms) but came back to win the second 25-17 and take the third 15-13! The AZ LIVEWIRE 16 White team was next and the highest ranked team they had faced thus far. Going to three again, the 16s lost a close one 12-15. The last game of the day under the bright stadium lights was against the White Tanks 16 Hamm and the 403s came to play! Another third set win had the girls 2-1 on the day and securing a spot in the silver flight, one match shy of advancing to the Championship tier. Enjoying some custom made individual pizza from Fired Pie the girls relaxed together, enjoyed a little pool time and shared a yummy birthday cheesecake!

Day Five

Championship Day was here already and despite a very slow start in the first set against La Jolla 16 from Southern California, the 16s (with some extra support from the 17Us and parents at home viewing online) rallied back in the second. After a couple of changes they came out strong in the second set determined to battle. A huge game delay at 20-18 forced the girls to really dig in and prevail with a 28-26 win. Unfortunately more playing time at the Festival Fiesta was not to be, despite a valiant effort from our 16s. They headed home with a lovely desert sunset bidding them farewell and a FIFTH place finish in the silver flight! 14th out of 72 talented 16U teams.

Many thanks to the 403 Selects Volleyball club for making these trips possible, the coaching staff, and all who helped contribute to this wonderful adventure for the girls! Without all the helping hands it truly would not have been possible!