Happiness and volleyball…

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I’m not sure who is more invested in the game of volleyball…the players on the court or the parents in the stands watching and cheering their daughters on in the game. Saturday The dolls team played in a season ending tournament, facing a team which had beaten them twice before. Who won the games wasn’t really as important (maybe) as how well they played as a team.

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“So mom, at practice tonight, we were playing anticipation ball, which means you get used to the person who serves so you can anticipate where the ball will coming over the net. And when it was my turn they yelled, “Okay this is a short one” so I purposely hit the ball harder so it took them all by surprise.” The doll explained. “So what happened next?” I asked, sensing there was more to the story. “Well coach P asked ‘Doll, when did you get so powerful?’ And I said I’ve been practicing”. Smiling at my daughter’s smiling face, I couldn’t help but be proud at how far she has come.

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The way the tournament worked was simple; win the first match, live to play another. Lose and your out. All year long our girls played well enough to win games, but just couldn’t get over the hump–especially when playing morning games. We were in the midst of a very long season, when everything began to click and the girls finally started winning. We were entering the tournament at the right time and the girls had confidence not only in themselves, but in their teammates as well.

My doll is decidedly a second, sometimes third string player. But she worked hard at practice throughout the season and her coaches told me they could see steady improvement with her play. We are in a league where every player gets to play, so she needed to improve to help her team succeed. The first match of the tournament came against a team who had beaten them twice before; including just the week before. Yet the girls were not deterred even with the early match time of 9 AM.

The scoring goes as such: first team to 25 wins; teams must win by two points. Best of three games. If a third game (tiebreaker) is necessary, first to 15 wins; must win by two points. No girl is allowed to take more than five consecutive serves in a game.

The first game the girls played matched play, however the other team came out on top. Our girls had to win the second game to force a tiebreaker. Again we played matched play and then something remarkable happened, the doll stepped up to serve. “Please let it go over the net” I whispered as she served the ball over the net and the other team failed to hit it back. “YES!” “C’mon doll, do it again!!” I shouted. She stepped up and served the ball over the net and again the opposing team failed to hit it back. More cheers ensued. She stepped up and this time boomed the serve into the other teams back court for another ace. My face beamed with pride watching her confidence grow with every serve. In addition her teammates were elated and were patting her on the back in between serves. The dolls serves helped her team score five unanswered points as they pulled ahead on their way to winning the second game.

We also took the all important tie break game when our girls displayed a new found confidence and pulled ahead for the win. “Third time was the charm!!” We all clapped and said happy for our girls. They were excited to get that monkey off their back. I was especially happy with the cheers and accolades my doll was hearing from the other parents and coaches. With the win, the girls had an hour to kill before their next game. One of her coaches approached me and said, “Your daughter is our secret weapon! She was the MVP of that game. She really came into own here”. I beamed with pride in return.

They lost the next tournament match in a two game set. While they were unhappy their season was over, they took the loss in stride…”Mom that team only had two losses all year long in the top bracket of our division. Now we know how we need to play next year.” The doll said on our car ride home. “Doll you have nothing to hang your head about. I’m so happy with how you played and so are your teammates and coaches. They all told me so”. Shaking her head up and down she looked at me and said, “I’m happy my serves finally worked.”

Me too baby, me too!

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