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17s Take Gold @ 17 Open

By B. Bernatowicz, 03/24/10, 5:44AM EDT


17s Win 17 Open Mule Classic

If you have been reading along the past several months with adventures of a person new to the world of coaching it has been quite a journey. Two short weeks ago we had a bad day at the DeSales tournament and I did not know what expect at our next practice. I talked before hand to our head coach John Swift and asked what our game plan was going to be. He said we would have our usual post tournament meeting but he wanted the girls to do most of the talking. Each girl in their own way spoke up and pointed out what they thought we needed to work on and how we could avoid another poor tournament. We then went back to work and had some spirited practices leading up to our next tournament but our last practice ended on a sour note with an injury to one of girls. So now we were headed into a tournament with several unknowns. First how would we do after a poor showing at a tournament and how would we react down a player.

We have struggled as a team with starting off very slowly at our tournaments this year and we kept searching for a way to avoid this. At our last practice one of the girls after a drill said she felt the team did better in drills when we kept some sort of numerical count of we were doing. She said it gave them something to focus on. So we came up with a little game within the game to start our match on Sunday. We set a goal of being the first team to 10. It worked great. The sets started with a score of 4-4 and we scored the first 6 points of the set to take a 10-4 lead. I thought wow maybe we found the answer. Then we gave up the next 6 points to be tied 10-10. Evidently our team is a very literal team. We ended up winning that set but I had to honestly ask them if they were trying to kill the coaching staff. So we made sure that we gave the girls more specific goals. First to 10 then first to 17 and then to 25. Now that we were on the same page we swept through our pool and earned the number one seed heading into the playoffs.

We had a solid semi-final match where the team worked together to beat a scrappy team. The finals had us facing a team we have faced twice this year. So far we were 1-1 this season. With a hard fought victory in set 1 25-21 the other team stepped up their play and so did our team but they won 25-23. Set 3 was a back and forth struggle where we were able to fight off 2 match points against us before we were able to pull out a 17-15 victory. Hopefully the team realized that the hard work they had put in over the past two weeks was the reason they were able to walk away with the championship. I'm hoping that they bring that same hard work ethic to practice the next few weeks as we prepare for our next tournament in Baltimore.