After a long two match qualifier, Christian and I have qualified again in China. If I told you it came easy this time, I would be lying. It's never easy, but this time was particularly exhausting.

For starters, our first match was in midday heat, and that sets up the rest of the day for shortness of breath and jello legs. Thankfully, Austrians are not much better suited to heat than us Canu- (Whoops, almost endorsed Vancouver's playoff run there, go Bruins?) Than us Canadians. We plugged through that first match, took it one point at a time, and BAM, final round.

Now as if the heat wasn't enough, we decided to play a marathon match. On the FIVB website it says we had the longest match of the day at 61 minutes. In actuality, it began at 4:30 and ended at 7:00. Confused? Allow me to explain. For starters, the first set went deep into extra points. It was a sideout game through and through, neither team made mistakes. Nobody led by more than one point until the last whistle blew in their favor.

Second set started slowly with an early 10-5 deficit, but that was quickly dissolved and we went into the first technical only down by one. So much for neither team giving up points, now it was back and forth runs, and so it went until the last couple blocks to close the second set in our favor.

Now during this whole match, the sky began to darken. At first it was relieving to know that the heat would be less sever, but as the points rolled along the calming shade of gray evolved into a very ominous shade of black with flashes of white and drops of clear (the last two colors describing the lightning and rain). But we didn't stop there. Third and deciding set, momentum on our side lets keep playing! And it worked in our favor, but it gave them an out. At 12-8 in the third set, the Austrians refused to continue due to weather. I'm surprised they didn't do it sooner to be honest. And then the sky really opened up.

For the next hour and a half we waited. We waited and hoped to continue because we had been informed that if a weather delay persists for an excess of 4 hours, the match resets at 0-0. When you've just spent the last hour battling your way a 4 point lead in the final set, the last thing you want is to start over completely, let me tell you.

But we did continue. The lightning continued to race across the heavens, but clear sky was on its way back into the picture, and we had the well lit Beijing Olympic Center Court to play on no matter how dark. Playing those last few points was one of the strangest things I've ever done. It was like an all new match, but we needed 3 and they needed 7. It's the most awkward thing to get so excited for such a short period of time. Thankfully we won, so the excitement lasted the rest of the night.

Now we need to ready ourselves for Alison/Emanuel, currently ranked 2nd in the World, and fresh off a big win against Phil and Todd, the only team to do so this year. And now they have to face us.
They won't know what hit em.

Ben Jammin

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