18 Hawks Reach 5th at the Hoosier Mideast Qualifier (3/6-8/09)
The 18 Hawks came into the 2009 Hoosier Mideast Qualifier as the #44 seed in the event. They were coming off two of the strongest events in the Midwest, fairing well at the OVR Winterfest, and then taking some lumps at the Presidents' Cup, playing without the services of some key athletes.
The Hawks were the #2 seed in their pool. Their first opponent was COA 18s from the Hoosier Region. The Hoosiers were little more than a warm-up match for the Hawks, dispensing them in two easy sets. Next up would be Jacksonville Network from the Gateway Region. They caught the Hawks by surprise in the first set and we lost by 2, but the girls pulled out the 2nd and 3rd sets. This set up the final match of the pool with an undefeated and worthy opponent, Fox City 18 Elite from the Badger Region.
Fox City was a very good team, with an outstanding outside hitter that was headed for Michigan State. The right side combination of Kim Rosen and Ashley Booker shut her down completely in the first set by a score of 25-13. The momentum swung the opposite direction early in the second set, but the Hawks clawed back into the match, falling 22-25. The third set was a tight one, with both teams staying close, but the Hawks kept the lead most of the set and prevailed 15-13 to go undefeated in the pool and take over the #20 seed.
The next day started out much the same as Day 1. The Hawks took care of Southern Heat (Gateway) and Ultimate 18 Blue (Great Lakes) in two sets each. This set up another match with an undefeated opponent in Hoosierland 18 Spartan. The Hawks held on to an early lead in the first set to squeak out a 25-23 win, but Spartan came back and avenged the set with a 25-14, 15-9 victory. Going 2-1 in their pool, the Hawks were assured of a spot in the Gold Playoffs.
The first opponent on Sunday was Austin Jrs. 18 Navy from the Lone Star Region. The Hawks weren't bothered one bit by their reputation and were led to victory by Allison Helm and Hannah Volkerding on the outside, pounding ball after ball through the Texan's defense. Austin came back in the second set and had a commanding lead, winning the set 25-12, but the Hawks came back from a huge deficit to make it almost respectable. Setter Kelly Hunter fired the team up and Hannah started hitting the ball from everywhere again and the girls didn't look back, to cruise to a 15-5 win.
Things didn't look like they were going to be too much fun when Ultimate 18 Gold came out wanting revenge for the loss we inflicted on their other 18s. They were big and strong, and it wasn't looking good for the Hawks. Haley Hoffman and Susie Jonas took over in the middle. Haley was putting the ball down for kills while Gold couldn't figure out how to stop Susie's slide attack shots to the deep corner. Shannon Quinn had some great serves and she picked up anything that got through Rosen and Booker with great right side defense. Hunter kept them off balance with great sets, while Ashley Hoeffer demoralized them by digging almost everything they hit at her. Before Ultimate knew it they had lost 25-17, 25-20.
The next opponent would be Pinellas Heat 18 Elite from the Florida Region. They came into the match with an undefeated record, and we soon found out why. They were a very balanced team without any weaknesses. Their ball control was outstanding. The Hawks couldn't figure out how to handle them early, but after a timeout, we regained our composure. Hoeffer started digging everything they hit down both sidelines. Hunter settled the hitters down, but we didn't have enough to come back and lost 17-25. The second set was better, but we couldn't figure out how to control their middles and we were constantly out of system. The Heat took set 2 by the score of 25-21.
Overall, the team did an outstanding job. We finished 5th in the tournament, and had the best finish of any team from the Ohio Valley Region in the 18 Club division. Our only losses were to teams that finished 4th (Hoosierland) and 2nd (Pinellas Heat) in the tournament. We were two victories away from a bid to the USA Volleyball Junior Nationals in Miami, FL. Great job, girls! Now we have to resume our brutal schedule to prepare for the OVR Bid Tournament for our final hope to go to Miami Beach in June.
For additional information, contact Bill Zehler