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Club News Story

We will....Ambush

2015 / 12 / 13

Our Ambush just came back from their first Premier event of the season. Although it’s the first Premier event it’s not the first time that some of these athletes played at the top level of their age group. Six of the athletes played on the 14U Gold Diggers that finished 9th in Ontario last season when there was only a Championship tier. They knew about some of their competition but with the GTA being so “fluid” in their athlete movements it’s always a good game of who’s where at the first event of the year.

As the 7th seed in the tournament we had the number one seeded Leaside and the 6th seeded Thundercats in our pool. One of the teams that had the greatest movement of athletes coming into their Club was the Leaside Lightning. They added some more talented athletes to a team that had finished 4th in Ontario last season. We battled them hard taking a 6-2 lead into their first time out but at the end of that close first set our serving, miscommunication and passing errors was the difference in that set. Leaside capitalized on all of our errors making us pay dearly. Set two was a different story and if you have been following along our slow starts have cost us this year. We reverted back to our slow start routine and came out flat in the second and lost an evenly played match by a lopsided score.

With no time to rest we had to play the Thundercats right after our first match. This is a team that we have become very familiar with having played them twice at the last 15U OVA losing in three the first time and then losing two straight for a bronze at the same tournament. We came out strong and won the first set, proceeded to lose the second set, which set up an exciting third set. Once again we had the Thundercats on the ropes in the third set and let them off the hook and they would win by the narrowest of margins of two points.

With that loss we were in for a tough quarterfinal match against the second seeded Scarborough Titans. This is the same Titans team that out played us in the semi-final of the last OVA competition with their superior ball control and attacking game. Being the hosts of the tournament they had their fans out to support them and we did not disappoint them by giving them a great match trading point for point. We had come back from a deficit of as much as 6 points in the first set to give them all they could handle in the first set but lost a tight one. In the second set we were up 22-18 and once again had them on their heels but we proceeded to make unforced errors that allowed doubt to enter our minds. The Titans ended up winning the second set by a score of 26-24 and with that loss we were fighting for our Premier “lives”. One of the nicest compliments we received was from the parents and coaches on how much we improved as a team since they last saw us. We were no longer that big physical team that sometimes looked great but we were beginning to be that big physical team that is very hard to play against. Unfortunately size alone does not win matches.

We needed to win the next two matches to stay in Premier. First up was a more physical team than us in the Markham Unity. To use a play on words and to tie in the musical chairs fact of GTA Club volleyball at the beginning of the article, if this team is able to stay unified they will be a serious contender by their 17U and 18U year. We were able to beat this team in two sets largely on our ball control, serving and error management. There was a real display of physicality in this match and there were flashes of incredible raw athletic abilities from both sides. It will be a treat to watch these two teams in two years when the ball control from both teams stabilizes and the athletic abilities are on display. It will be a slugfest of strong and determined 6 foot plus young women!

With that win we were now in the key “stay” match with the winner staying in Premier and the team that losses being relegated to the Championship Tier for the third OVA competition. The Georgian Cubs would be a very tough opponent as they entered the season having finished 5th at 14U Provincials and the third seed in the tournament. Determined the Ambush came out strong taking control of the first set and they fought off a late push from the Cubs to win the first set. The second set was a completely different story. What normally worked for us didn’t it and it was the first time all season that we gave up on a match and each other. We lost the second match by a very lopsided score of 14-25 but more importantly we lost all momentum going into the third set. Needless to say no one was happy to be in this position going to the third set to decide our fate for the next tournament. The third set opened with the two teams exchanging the first two points and from that point on we controlled the set and won the match. For whatever reason the girls were able to find that switch and turn it on again and never looked back.

We fought and were able to finish 5th and that should place us in the top 10 in Ontario with an eye on the top 5 knowing that we can compete with anyone in the province.

After looking at the podium and the long drive home we realized that our only three loses where to the gold, silver and bronze medalists in Premier. There’s always one pool of death at the tournament and we were in it and by finishing third in our pool we set ourselves up against the second seeded Titans in the quarterfinal. Neither the Titans nor us were happy with that match up so early in the play off round.

Ladies we know we are in the mix at the top of the province we need to continue to train hard, identify the corners that we cut in training, in the weight room and in team communication and bonding and not cut those corners again. Our competition will take advantage of every corner we cut in our training when they play us as they will sense, identify and capitalize on all of our weaknesses.

A special thank you to Alina Dormann (Mav'15 - Junior National team and current University of Toronto Varsity Blues) who came out to help us. Thank you for taking time from your studies, it is much appreciated!

We will – Ambush.

“ Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there. ”
– Joe Wooden