On April 4th the girls of 13U Attack Black travelled to Rim Park in Waterloo to test themselves against the best 14U teams in Ontario and the worst parking availability since Boxing Day. As they left the hotel on their first day of competition the rain poured down, much as it had the night before another famous battle at a different Waterloo. On that day the Duke of Wellington led a less experienced coalition force against the battle hardened veterans of Napoleon’s French army and with aplomb was victorious. Chaos, too, would be challenged greatly at their Waterloo, but like Wellington they never retreated in the heat of the fray and exacted a price from those who dared underestimate their skill or will to win.
The girl’s campaign began on Friday afternoon with a game against the Blue, a London team out of the well respected Forest City Volleyball Club. In this lightly officiated affair the girls of Chaos came out true to form with another slow start. Fighting from beneath in each set the Black exhibited flashes of brilliance as they clawed their way back from deficit only to fall in 19-25, 22-25 sets. The lessons of this loss seemed to inform them, however, when they took to the court against a team from Bourget called the Pumas. Before anyone could even ask where Bourget is located in Ontario the Pumas were dispatched in quick 25-17, 25-15 sets by the dominant serving, controlled defence and explosive offence of the Black attack. This generally excellent play followed the girls into their final game of the day against the Hamilton Smash where they displayed a cohesion and intensity not seen in prior tournaments. As the Smash fell 25-21 and 25-14 Chaos announced their arrival in OVA Provincial volleyball. The girls went to their beds Friday night as the top team in their pool and prepared for the greater challenges to come.
Saturday’s play saw the ladies of Chaos face Tier One competition beginning with a late afternoon match against the Ottawa Fusion Flames. Serve receive resurfaced as our Achilles’ heel as the Flames opened the first set with a seven point run. Although the dynamic play of the Chaotics allowed them to take a late set four point lead, the Flames refused to be extinguished and rose again for a 23-25 win. In the second set the trend continued, despite our good play, as another four point Chaos lead evaporated into a 22-25 loss. In the second match our girls continued to play well as they met the Niagara Rapids. Although demonstrating a noticeably improved serve receive and holding the lead through much of the two sets, our girls suffered tough 20-25 and 18-25 losses. Even having suffered a second defeat Chaos seemed to grow in confidence and determination as they took to the court for the late game against the powerful Guelph Grizzlies. The first set of the match, however, found the Attack somewhat under fire as they struggled with the hellacious serving of a Grizzly with the number four on her back and hate in her heart. Shell-shocked, our girls did their best to launch a counter-attack but struggled with their hitting and fell rather quickly by a score of 13-25. Not content, however, to play dead in the face of a Grizzly attack, or to go gentle into that goodnight, our girls armed themselves with bear spray for the second set. The excellent play of earlier returned as Chaos fought back even when the dreaded number four re-entered the game. At the end of the 25-21 set the momentum lay entirely with Attack as the girls went on their own serving run in the third set for a dramatic 15-6 victory. In showing the quality of their character in this display of volleyball acumen and strength of heart the girls found themselves vaulted from the bottom of the second tier into the first tier for the playoff round to come. This meant two things for Chaos: an early morning game against a tough opponent and that nobody was doing their hair.
Morning came far too early for the girls in Black who looked not unlike Cindy Lou Who awoken by the Grinch as they sat around in their OVA hoodies rubbing sleep from their eyes. The Grinch arrived in the form of the E381, a volleyball club named after the area code of Serbia, who came armed with talented girls and a myopic linesman. Falling behind 0-7 early in the first set, the girls struggled with serve receive and despite improving as the game advanced were never able to recover. They passed, blocked and hit as well and sometimes better than the Serbians but the score at the end of the first set stood at 17-25. Aware now that the next set could see them exit the tournament Chaos returned to the floor focused and determined. Matching the Etobicoke team point for point the girls had the E381 coach appear to be doing the Hustle as he substituted for every player in a desperate attempt to stop the Black Attack. When Chaos took a 21-20 lead it appeared as though he might join them on the court as well. Alas, it was not to be for the hard working girls of Chaos, as E381 came back to win in the final moments 21-25. It was a just conclusion. The girls from Etobicoke were talented and tough competitors. If, however, they had not previously heard about Durham Attack Chaos, they certainly had now. Few teams they would face would push them as hard as our girls had.
While somewhat disappointed to be leaving Waterloo without a medal Chaos left with their heads held high. They had moved up to the top tier in Division Two, rising twenty-one places in the rankings. The Guelph Grizzly team they had beaten Saturday night ended up winning the gold in Tier Two and the E381 team they had almost beaten in Sunday’s game won the gold medal in Tier One. Goals set were certainly surpassed in their efforts and personal and team expectations have only increased for their age group’s provincial tournament. It is now only a matter of three weeks until we’re singing Abba’s “Waterloo” again. To paraphrase the title song from Coach Erin’s favourite musical: “Mamma Mia, here we go again.”
Article written by Dave Farrell