Over the weekend, our Durham Attack U15 Black Venom boys participated in a tournament as a warm-up for the upcoming Ontario Provincial championships. Already considered one of the top ranked teams in the U15 division, we decided to play up one year (in a U16 boys tournament) to test our skills against bigger, stronger and faster boys. During Pool Play in the morning, our boys played well and finished second in the pool due to a marginal point differential tie-breaker w/ Leaside U16 despite splitting the 2-set head-to-head match (21-25, 28-26). Then we breezed past a feisty and much-improved Interclub Patriots team (25-19, 25-21) in the quarter-finals.
For the semi-finals, our team faced the #1-ranked U16 team in the province… Markham Wasps. During the past few months, we had already competed against and lost twice to this dominant, power-hitting team. The first set started out fairly well, as our boys battled for each side-out, but the Wasps started to pull away early. Down 8-10, our boys started to figure out how to counter the opposing, booming attack. We started to serve tougher and tougher. These tough serves forced errand passes, disrupted the offense and forced the Wasps to play out-of-system. In essence, we were able to diffuse their super-charged offense and won the first set (25-15). As top teams usually do, however, they adjusted and bounced back quickly. In the second set, Markham stormed back and reminded us why they were ranked #1 by crushing us (11-25). In the third and deciding set, both teams fired away with thundering spikes early. But we were able to match this oversized team point-for-point. Moreover, we were gaining confidence and playing more assertively. Then Markham started to uncharacteristically make a few unforced errors: first serving into the net, then hitting out-of-bounds, another long serve out, net violation, etc. We took advantage of these mistakes and pushed thru for a dramatic and surprising win (15-9).
In the finals, we faced the Lakeside Volleyball Club (from Oakville). Lakeside was another top U16 team in the province (probably ranked in the top 3). It was easy to see what their competitive advantage would be: HEIGHT. Lakeside fielded a starting 6’ 5” setter and a trio of front-court players with an average height of around 6’4”. In contrast, our 14 yr old boys probably have an average height of 5’11” to 6’0”. Over the past couple of years, I don’t remember ever competing against such a tall team. Our younger boys struggled both at the net (hitting and blocking) and even passing (since it was tough to see the serve behind a wall of big bodies at the net). We dropped two consecutive sets (20-25, 20-25) and finished the day with a Silver Medal. Considering the upgraded competition, this was quite a considerable accomplishment for the boys as they seek to defend their provincial championship title in the next few weeks.
Go Black Venom Go!!