Can-Am Rochester Tournament
January 17-18, 2015
Thirty-two teams vying for three spots(or bids) to the U.S Nationals this spring. So you knew there would be some excellent competition. Surprisingly, Durham’s 1st pool challenger turned out to be less of a challenge and more of a warmup sparing partner. As both teams got accustomed to the court, lighting and overall atmosphere of the venue, the play drawing the most interest was when one of the LVC players got a bloody lip. After that, the only floor issues came from melting snow dripping onto the left side of the court. This required towel boys throughout the day. First game won without too much exertion 25-9 & 25-8.
Game 2 vs Yorktowne, Pa. Neva Black was more of what we had expected. In the 1st set, Durham Attack slowly got into the game mentally, and physically, as they had not been required to do earlier. After exchanging the lead a few times, the boys started bringing it together when Jared strung together some ace serves – literally, and the rest of the team backed him up with excellent defensive work. Neva came back with their own impressive serving and blocking in what turned out to be a very exciting set, until a good serve and a couple of big blocks gave Durham the 25-22 win. Momentum continued to build in the 2nd, as the boys were up and positive. Taking an early lead, Durham nevertheless found themselves in another very close set as the score stayed fairly even with both teams displaying strength on both defence and offence. Eventually, with their serves and blocking working in tandum, DA triumphed through a number of exciting rallys to seize the 25-21 victory.
The final pool play was against New England’s Smash 18-1 team. The level of competition continued to increase and the boys rose to the occasion. Playing with a focussed determination, DA served up an excellent display of how to’s with almost flawless blocking, hitting and, other than the one Jared bounced off John’s head, serving. A little levity never hurts, although I bet it stung a little. The end didn’t disappoint for excitement, as DA came back from a netted serve with a huge block from Alex T., setting up Aleks’ serve which hit the top of the net, rolled over and dropped in for the 25-23 finish.
The boys kept the pressure up in the 2nd set, playing with a clarity of focus and skill that was a delight to behold. Jared started the drive with a couple of aces, followed by some solid blocking to keep the score in our favour. A Smash timeout caused a momentary break in the flow, but DA regained possession quickly and it was Jordan’s turn to serve up a string of aces, interspersed with huge blocks by Tristan and Alex H., good passing from the back court and an unlooked-for tip-over by setter Brad. Durham’s serving game was the deciding factor this time and appropriately the 25-14 win came off another Jordan ace, concluding a brilliant day of volleyball.
Day 2 was another early one with an 8am start against Pittsburgh’s 18U White team. After a good night’s sleep, the boys came out swinging, picking up right where they left off Saturday, full of energy with a side of controlled aggression. While not a run-away, DA took control early, kept pressing and snatched set one 25-16. In the 2nd set, a much closer contest filled with lengthy, thrilling rallies and intelligent play on both sides of the net, Durham Attack was seen to be enjoying the competition. A couple of over enthusastic plays allowed Pittsburgh a small comeback to 15-15 before Durham regained control, despite excellent digging and blocking of their serves and hits. It was a challenge to the end but Jared put it away 25-21 with one more ace.
Annapolis 18U National team was next. Against this team the boys had to be almost perfect in their execution for these opponents came on hard and fast, with a palpable determination. The pace of set 1 was established early with energized rallies and a rhythmn of play resulting in a see-saw points gain. Durham’s blocking and solid serving continued to work and was now accompanied by awesome digging and passing. In a game that could have gone either way, the 1st set went to Annapolis 21-25 for having fewer slips than Durham. The 2nd set witnessed a continuation of the intensity and level of play established in the 1st. DA appeared to struggle, briefly, with their concentration,but they kept the pressure on and after watching the score rise in equal increments to 16-16, the momentum swung in DA’s favour. All aspects of their play came together in a continuous fashion and Durham took the set 25-22.
The tiebreaker, for the Durham Attack spectators at least, was possibly the most exciting and entertaining set of the day. It was another extremely close contest with loads of energy and intelligent play as Durham dictated the pace and flow. Maintaining the lead, DA boosted their confidence even further when they won the point after an exceptionally robust rally. Coach Ian called a timeout to calm the guys down as the score got a little closer and as the action got hotter, and it worked, as Durham emerged victorious at 15-13.
The quarter-final opponent was Ancaster, Ontario’s Mountain Atheletic Club(MAC). With their blocking-wall holding strong and the majority of serves finding their mark, the outcome was decided by a Ref calling a DA player for being on the net while blocking a hit. MAC took the set 23-25.
Durham grabbed an early lead in the 2nd set, and held the upper hand throughout. MAC brought the score close at one point but two quick aces from Greg stopped that run. With more aces from Jared, timely tips and hits by Brad and John and a powerhouse slam from Alex H. to finish it off, DA cruised to a 25-16 triumph.
The deciding set was by any definition a quality game of volleyball. This was a game, unfortunately for Durham, decided by a bad block, followed by a well placed tip over. MAC finished DA’s day with that 13-15 win.
A great weekend of volleyball and while they may not have accomplished the goal of securing a bid for the American Nationals -yet!, placing 5th out of 32 cannot be considered a bad outcome for the weekend’s efforts.