Over the Family Day weekend, our 18U Girls team competed at the University of Phoenix Stadium in the 2017 Phoenix Fiesta, home of the NFL’s Phoenix Cardinals. It was an eye-opening experience to compete in a 63,000 seat stadium. The girls started off the trip with an evening practice and realized how difficult the game is without the usual reference points of walls or a roof that are close by. The enormity of the facility caused some timing issues but after working through a light 45-minute practice, the girls were ready for the tournament to start on Feb 18.
The team rented a large house that slept 18, complete with a pool and hot tub, so the players and chaperones had plenty of space to prepare meals, relax and get to know each other a bit better.
Day 1 – Competing in the afternoon wave so it was a leisurely first morning at the house. Sadly, it was rainy and overcast so not much time spent outdoors. The tournament started with a loss to 16th ranked SVA Attack from Arizona (14-25, 14-25) but they rebounded with a win over BAVC Power from North Carolina (24-26, 25-19, 15-7). They finished the day vs the number 1 team in the pool and 9th ranked in the tournament, East Side Blaze, also from Arizona. A tough match-up led to a 14-25, 16-25 loss and 3rd place in the pool. After 3 high intensity matches, the girls were happy to have a quiet night in the house and a wonderful meal prepared by the 5 travelling moms.
Day 2 – Started like Day 1 but the travel to our new playing venue was a bit longer. The girls came out with an incredibly intense warm-up and continued it into their first match winning 25-13, 25-17 over PVC 17’s. After a short break, they had trouble maintaining that energy and quietly lost to PVC 18’s 14-25, 18-25. Second place was still a strong possibility so they re-grouped and overpowered VOS 17’s 26-24, 25-11. Upon arriving back at the house, the girls were treated to a full Mexican meal of homemade guacamole, soft tacos and pico de gallo, once again, courtesy of the chaperones.
Day 3 – Our schedule was a bit accelerated due to the quarter-finals being played a bit earlier in the day. The sun finally came out so there was a bit of time spent beside the pool. The team came out ready to play, back at the football stadium and held a 24-22 lead near the end of the first set before a few mental letdowns which led to a 24-26 loss to Club One Blue. The second line-up, after a slow start, was undeterred and fought back before bowing our 20-25, losing 0-2 to end the tournament. Although the girls felt like a few of the loses could’ve been wins, they learned about competing after 20 points. That night, many of the players spent a bit of time shopping before attending the Phoenix/Anaheim NHL game next to the football stadium. Mark Wheler, parent to player Hannah, was a linesperson in the game so the team was treated to outstanding tickets and a chance to meet all the referees at the end of the game. A very memorable experience.
Day 4 – 10am flight home, via Regina, and time to reflect on a memorable tournament. A special thanks to the mothers on the trip; Kim, Tracey, Dana, Shannon & Ronaye for ensuring the girls arrived everywhere on time and were well fed and organized throughout the trip.