There’s this thing about losing just one game in a tournament. You don’t want it to happen in the final.
That’s what happened to the Potential Volleyball Club’s 15U girls this past weekend but they’re just fine with it.
The girls snagged themselves silver in Division 5 at the Alberta Volleyball 15U Provincial Championships in Calgary on Sunday, dropping the final to the Southern Alberta Volleyball Club (SAVC) in straight sets, their only loss of the tournament.
Paul Shearme, the team’s head coach, said there wasn’t much disappointment about the result after the match.
“The girls were very happy with the result,” he said. “I can’t recall any of our teams having a record of (six wins and one loss) at a provincial championship.”
It all began with the round-robin, where they went a perfect three-for-three in the win column, but it was a chance to run a new serve-receive system, which seemed to work, said Shearme.
“SAVC served us off the court at the Premier 3 tournament earlier this season and they were the reason we changed up our system,” he said. “The round-robin gave us a chance to get comfortable with that system and it went very well.”
The perfect round-robin meant the girls entered the playoffs as the top seed from their pool and a round-of-16 match-up with the East Kootenay Volleyball Club, which the girls won in straight sets.
It was the final game of day-one for the girls and while they never seemed to be in any sort of trouble, Shearme said the fatigue of a long day of volleyball was showing.
“Both teams were tired by that point,” he said. “We were never in any danger of losing the match but we had a really shaky second set. We got it and then it was off to get some rest and come back the next day to keep on going.”
Day two saw the girls in the quarter-final against the Apex Altitude Club out of Calgary, which went all the way to a deciding set before Potential won out in the third to nail down a spot in the semifinals.
“They got the first set but we came back to win the next two,” said Shearme. “We played them in the round-robin and they came back strong but we were ready for that. We dug deep in the second set and got a good lead in the third and they chipped away at us but we weren’t in any sort of jeopardy.”
The semifinal featured a match-up with the NOVA Club from Delia, Alta., a team that was sight unseen for Shearme and the girls.
“We’d never seen them before and we didn’t know what to expect,” said Shearme.
What they got was another three-setter and it was a carbon copy of the quarter-final: Potential lost the first set but won sets two and three to claim victory and punch their ticket to the final.
“The nerves got to us a bit in the first set but we came back with a strong second set and we had all the momentum after that,” said Shearme.
In the final, SAVC once again came out with a strong serving barrage and the Potential squad spent much of the match scrambling to return balls.
Shearme said his girls gave up a few too many free balls and that meant no chance to attack.
“When you’re putting the ball up in the air, you don’t get a chance to attack them but they can attack you on the free balls and that’s what happened to us,” he said. “We focused on minimizing the errors and taking care of the ball on our side and we played a lot better against them this time than the last time.”
The efforts of two players – Emily Carroll and Brianna Helyar – didn’t go unnoticed by the organizers as they were named to the Division 5 all-star team but Shearme said there was one name he thought should have been there as well.
“Alexis Head played a phenomenal tournament,” he said. “We took a look at the stats after it was over and she graded out on everything all weekend. She really should have been an all-star.”