Going into the “Beast of the Southeast” tournament, there were many different emotions. Those of the utmost confidence, and maybe some of uneasiness and eagerness. The “elite eight” added two players to the roster for the weekend. After several weeks, we got Gloria, our middle blocker, back from Coach Amy’s team— she was filling in for an injured player, but has always been on the roster. We also planned to have one of the setters from Coach Amy’s team join us. Coincidentally, our setter sprained her ankle before practice literally a week before the tournament, so we began to practice with our new teammate, trying to click with each other and figure each other out.
Walking into the gym Friday morning, the air felt different. We came in ranked number 1, and we thought we were ready to defend it. Talk of last year’s 17’s team winning Beast was going on and statements that this year the 18’s are taking it up a level stuck with me personally this past weekend. I’ve never been on a team with this skill level. Last year, the 18’s were a pretty good team, and everyone went, or is going next fall to college to play volleyball on some type of scholarship, and we would beat the 17’s in practice but we don't have a National title. We lost the 8:00 AM match, and that set the tone for the whole tournament. Despite the fact that we were a mere 3 or 4 points away from victory, we seemed to never play like we were after something this weekend, and more like we were afraid of losing what we had. Ultimately, that got us nowhere.
We had a team meeting at the next practice, and I felt like that cleared the air. We owned up to how we played and our final rank in the tournament, and we discussed how this set back will only make our comeback stronger, and facing adversity can only make us better players and teammates. I honestly cannot wait to show people that the team that showed up in Atlanta is not the team we are.