September 22, 2013

The Most Official Pick-Up Game Ever

Played my first match with my new team last night - and it was AWESOME.

We only had 8 players who could make the match, and that's okay because it was just a cup match. Cup matches in France are like this extra competition throughout the year to see who can beat teams between levels, while league games (the "championship") are played within your level to see who moves up or down the next season. But really: cup matches just take up weekends, and aren't really necessary to anyone's happiness.

We lost in 5 sets, but the amazing thing is it actually felt like we had won the match.


Out of our 8 players, only 7 played (1 was really sick). Out of the 7 of us on the court (6 players, plus 1 libero), we had ONE returner from last year's team. Adeline and I played together last year. Our libero has mostly just played beach. Our opposite was one of the coaches in the club, and just stepped in with us for the first time during warm-ups. And the other two girls didn't even play on a team last year.

A true pick-up game! 

Now, clearly, it could seem that the other team was just so terrible that we were able to drag it out to 5 sets with them and it could have been the most frustrating awful game ever. But the other team was very athletic, young, and had lefties, talls-and-longs, and great defense!

I have to give all the credit in the world to my brand new teammates. This was the first match I've played in Europe (2 1/2 years now!) where every single player on the court and the bench was 100% engaged, 100% of the time. One of my middles isn't even a middle (she plays outside hitter) and Laetitia was up for every single attack - even when I probably set her 6 times the whole match. I had every single attacker shouting for the set every single play. The feedback in every direction was constant, as was the encouragement, motivation, competitiveness, and sincere effort from everyone. 

I know this sounds so basic, and so obvious, like, of course, this is how volleyball is played. But too many times we also know that we've all had to play with the selfish silent types, apathetic girls, and athletic players with low volleyball I.Q. 

This match just goes to show that when every person wants to make it work, anything can happen. We shouldn't have even taken a set from that team on paper, but they had to battle us down to the last point in order to win. Finally, a loss I can be proud of, and an entire team that makes me excited to play in matches!

Our objective this year is to just maintain our position in Nationale 2, and find our identity with so many new players. We aren't going to dominate our league, but we are going to have a blast! We are going to get wins simply because we want to be here, we want to play together, and we want to work hard.

And I can only imagine at this point how great our team will be when we've actually practiced our defense, blocking together, serve receive patterns, and my sets are in the right place...!

We definitely have a lot to be proud of in this first showing, and even more exciting things to look forward to this season.

It's a pleasure and a privilege to play with you ladies. Go VGA!!!