I’ll start this entry off with my apologies for the lack of blog over the weekend. NORCECA tournaments just fire out as many games as possible over a 3 day span, and much of my time was spent at the beach without computer access. I’ll make up for it now by giving a quick rundown of how our weekend fared. (Some of the set scores might be wrong but not by much, forgive me. These are all off the top of my head.)
Game 1 vs. Jamaica: W 21-10, 21-18
The first game of any tournament always seems like it could go in any direction. In our case, it started out right. We made sure to come out energized, and ready to play strong. The scores don’t really show it, but Jamaica is actually a very athletic team capable of doing good things. They would finish the tournament in 5th place, losing to eventual bronze medallists, USA, in three sets.
Game 2 vs. Guatemala: W 21-7, 21-15
This was just a case of us overpowering the other team. Guatemala is a smaller team and again, tough serving on our part did not allow them a chance to mount a strong offense against us. Guatemala would eventually finish in 9th place
Game 3 vs. Puerto Rico: L 21-16, 15-21, 13-15
It seemed we were strong in every first set. We controlled this match until midway through the second set. A couple calls in a row went against us, as will happen in any game, and combined with the heat of midday in the Cayman Islands, we were a little thrown off. That would lead to our demise in the second set. The third set was back and forth, neither team led by more than 1 point until 12-12 when the Puerto Ricans grabbed a quick couple, and there was very little time left to take one back. The Puerto Ricans would eventually claim 2nd place.
Game 4 vs. USA-2: W 21-14, 21-19
Start time, 9:30 pm. Maverick and I had managed to get to back to the hotel to grab a shower and a quick bite to eat, whereas the Americans had to remain to play their 3rd game of the day in order to face us. We took full advantage of their tired legs in the first set, Getting 2 or 3 points every time we went back to serve. They made adjustments in the second, and jumped to any early four point lead. Mav and I battled back little by little, and managed to close out the match in the tight second set. USA-2, after their loss to us, ended up in tied for 5th with Jamaica.
Game 5 (semi-final) vs. Canada-1: L 21-11, 17-21, 10-15
Another case of strong serving, gave us a huge lead over fellow Canadians, Martin Reader and Ray Sewell. We rode the lead all the way to the end of the first set, and went into the break energized. Marty and Ray battled back however, and showed new fight in the second, whereas the heat of the day had us struggling to maintain our first set intensity. Eventually, our very frustrating lack of legs and energy, mixed with the consistent play of the other Canadians, finished with us on the wrong end of the match. Martin and Ray would go on to win the tournament
Game 6 (bronze medal game) vs. USA-1: L 16-21, 21-12, 17-19
The one exception to our strong play in first sets. We started the game without any fight, but found it midway through the first. It was too late for that set, but led to a dominant second. The third set saw several 2 and 3 point swing for both teams. It seemed that neither team had the energy after a long weekend of playing to be consistent. After a tight last few point, we again lost in the third. Finishing our tournament in 4th place.
I’m disappointed we weren’t stronger in 3rd sets, but there we many positives on the whole. This is not only Maverick’s first international event, it’s also the first time he’s ever been outside of Canada and the northern united states. Considering that, he played very well. Also the fact that we controlled every team we played for at least one set show’s a lot of promise for the future. With just a little extra push here or there we could have been on top of the podium. When Jessi and I get a chance to play in Guatemala in a few weeks, hopefully we will be.