On February 28th the girls of 14U Black returned once again to Stouffville High School, where it is always standing room only; this time for the 15U Bugarski Cup. Facing 15U Championship for the first time, the girls entered the tournament looking to test their skill and improve their standing. To that end, as the nets came down the girls discovered that they had more than survived their foray into the Championship world, but had in fact pulled a Dolly Parton and gone from 9 to 5.
Pool play began with a match against the talented STVC Dynasty. Exhibiting a higher quality of serving and a faster, more unpredictable attack than the Black had faced before, Dynasty initiated our girls rather curtly into a new level of play. Although most of their points came on Titan mishits, the girls of Attack maintained their composure throughout the 13-25, 15-25 sets and were not at all dejected knowing they had faced one of the top teams in Championship. The game that followed against the Ottawa Maverick Stampede was a more even matching. The first set was a tightly contested affair that produced good rallies and strong blocking, passing and clever finishing on the part of Attack. Although the lead changed hands throughout, a strong Maverick push at the end, and a small lapse in serve receive was enough to produce a 20-25 conclusion. The second set saw the Ottawa team struggle to contain strong Black serving. Unfortunately, despite forcing numerous free balls off their serve, our cowgirls couldn’t seem to capitalize against Stampede. While they produced good back court hits, Attack struggled at the net and despite a good effort fell 18-25. Although this left the girls third in their pool, they left for lunch generally pleased with their play and prepared for the afternoon matches.
The playoff round of the Bugarski Cup revealed both DA steadfastness and tales of the unexpected as our girls faced foes both new and old. The first match against the Evolution saw our girls shaking off their post-lunch rust against some fleet footed Scarborough girls. While the Black served well, the speed of their opponents forced them into a counter-attack style of play that didn’t lend itself to strong finishing. Although the score remained close throughout, the set ended rather roughly with a final of 18-25. The second set, however, revealed the lack of depth of our opponent as their second lineup struggled to contend with strong Attack serving. While the set produced great rallies and remained close, tied at 22 in the closing minutes, in the end it was the Black’s consistency that made the difference in the 25-23 conclusion as they denied Evolution as surely as a Texas school board, thus forcing a third set. This set proved to be a bit of a regression for our girls as they were outplayed at the net and plagued by serve receive trouble that limited offensive options, leading to a 8-15 defeat. This loss put the girls back into the path of a familiar dance partner in the Wasps. Unfortunately for the Wasps, on this day the Unionville team was a few stingers short of a hive, leading to a DA 25-0, 25-0 victory by way of iPhone. While our girls dominated the friendly that followed the forfeit, it was clear in the end that this rivalry is still far from settled. Now in a position to finish fifth, the girls of Black found themselves in a rematch against the surprisingly beleaguered girls of DRVC. Dispirited after a day of unexpected losses, the girls of DRVC seemed already defeated as they took the floor against the unwavering girls of Attack. So it was then, through exhibiting a steady hand on the serving line and reliable play on the court, coupled with the numerous errors of their opponents, that DA came to defeat DRVC in straight sets 25-18, 25-18 and so finish fifth at the Bugarski Cup.
The irony of DA’s respectable finish at this tournament was lost on no one as the girls now wait for the rankings for Provincials in April. They have proven themselves to be contenders at Championship level in 15U and have earned their place at the big kid’s table. Now it’s time to shine and sharpen the cutlery.
Article written by Dave Farrell