The Borderline 15 Hawks won Gold at the 17 Club division of the February 27 tournament at Phillips Hall, securing their first of what they hope to be several Gold Championships this season. A late entry, the Hawks were looking for success after a disappointing but educational experience in the previous weekend's Presidents' Cup tournament in Dayton.
In pool play, the Hawks' first match was against the Middletown Blockers, a 17 Club team from Middletown, Ohio. The Hawks were a bit sluggish, or perhaps a bit apprehensive about playing against the 17s' teams, but quickly overcame those feelings. The first game went back and forth, earning points with great attacks by OHs Ali Schneider and Tricia McCutchan, kills and blocks by MBs Kim Rosen and newcomer Rachel Huber, RS newcomer Blake Robinson, and the lethal weapon known as "D" — newcomer lefty Danessa Cutter. But as we were earning points, we were allowing too many points as well. Serving errors, hitting errors, and erratic passing kept the first game close. But by the end of game 1, the Hawks found the way to win, 26-24. Being beaten by a 15s' team seemed to shock the Middletown Blockers: game 2 was a disaster for them, as the Hawks won the match with an exclamation point, 25 to 8.
The second pool play match pitted the Hawks against the Brown County VBC 17 Hurricanes. The Hawks were in the eye of the storm, calm and in control. The Brown County Hurricanes quickly became a tropical depression, as the Hawks calmed their storm easily in two games, 25-6 and 25-15... a great all-around effort by the Hawks. Let's start with defense, and an impressive backrow it was. The Hawks had their version of a Doppler radar system for any strikes from the Hurricanes: newcomer Katelin Hanes, Libero Natalie Pierce, and DSs Sadie Schwarz and Megan Heileman took the blows from the Hurricanes, digging and passing almost every strike from Brown County. And the Hawks again brought their own thunder and lightning, in the form of Ali, Tricia, Kim, Rachel, Danessa and Blake. The Hurricane hit our shoreline and broke immediately: it was over in 40 minutes.
The final match in pool play placed Western Ohio VBC – Black (also 17 Club) in our path. The Hawks again learned the importance of doing the little things right. This match went three games. The Hawks lost game 1, 23-25, because of too many errors that lead to points for Western Ohio (13 of 25). A team cannot give up so many points and hope to win. So Coach Matt Switzer and Assistant Coach Meghan Schwark quickly refocused the girls, winning the second game impressively, 25-14, behind great hitting, blocking, and serving of 8 in a row by Megan Heileman, and picking up their level of play. But game 3 was worse than game 1, when the Hawks yielded their opponents 10 of their 15 points through preventable errors. Inspite of this, the Hawks only lost game 3, 13-15.
The Hawks made the Gold round as the top second-place pool team, drawing the number one team from pool B, Kaep Borderline 16 Black, for the first match. This 16 Black team is tougher than they look — only one player over 5'7" — but these girls player bigger than they are, and they don't let a ball hit the ground without moving for it. A hard-working team, 16 Black jumped out to a big lead in game one, in part to their efforts, and in part with the Hawks making mistakes. But the Hawks would not be denied, and fought back with hitting, blocking, and defense to win game one, 25-22. The Hawks were on a roll, and finished the match with an impressive 25-17 win. Now the Hawks were hoping for revenge against the Western Ohio VBC team, but they first had to face Northwest Ohio Volleyball – NWO17-Petrie, winner of the second match of the Gold round.
NW Ohio couldn't match the blocking and hitting of the twin towers — 6'1½" Kim Rosen and 6' Rachel Huber, the hitting power of OHs Ali Schneider and Tricia McCutchan, RS Blake Robinson, and the lethal lefty setter/RS Danessa Cutter. And defense was easily up to the challenge, with Libero Natalie Pierce, DSs Sadie Schwarz, Katelin Hanes, and Megan Heileman. The Hawks won the match 25-17 and 25-15, and with it, the Gold.
The overall stats for the Hawks in the tournament were: serving 87%, average of 4.2 aces per game; 80.5% serve receive; and 76 digs on defense. Danessa had a 92% setting efficiency. As a team, the Hawks were 80% on attack efficiency, with Kim Rosen leading at 87%, followed closely by Rachel Huber and Tricia McCutchan at 86.6% and Ali Schneider at 83%. On blocking, Kim led the way with 8 blocks/assists, followed by Rachel with 6 blocks/assists, and Tricia with 4.
The Hawks now head into next Saturday's 15 Open tournament at Withrow Court. Hope to see you out there! "Ah, you can't stop the train!"