First off, thank you all so much for your support. It was great to receive messages from so many friends and family members as we live our dreams on tour and demand more from our level of play. It has been emotionally and physically exhausting, yet highly rewarding as we discover new levels for team Reader/Schalk.
As described in our last message, we won our first qualification game in an absolute HEATER versus fellow countrymen Matt and Josh. It was great because that game allowed the better team of the day passage to the next round; we knew we had to perform since we held the torch.
Our second round match was against the 5th seeded team in the Qualifier who are from Spain. They are a talented team with a history of excellence who bring solid ball control and fluid sideout play to the table. We knew we would have to maintain our intensity for the second match to have a sniff at Victory, so we brought the noise.
A crazy game it was indeed. It was one of the better games of our season as we proved our team's ability to execute under pressure. Without boring you with an in depth view of our game (read either of our blogs in the near future as we will write content shortly) here is a brief summary of the games and scores.
We lost the first set against Spain 18-21 without really establishing our rhythm. We set out to make more dynamic plays in the second set and were able to capitalize on a few crucial rallies to win 26-24. In the third set, I started with a heavy serve which their left side passed into the ref stand. His partner went for it and smashed his wrist into the pole and was forced to take a medical. Turns out this didn't effect him much as he continued to play well. We were pressed to make difficult points and push out an over time win 17-15!!! It was a great feeling upsetting the higher seed and playing super solid ball.
Next up was a Japanese team who also have had some great results but haven't been performing optimally as of late. A good draw for us as we matched up well and we desperately wanted that main draw birth!
We won the first set easily 21-16 as our defence and transition was spot on; we were connecting in all realms of the game.
The second set they changed their tactics and served me a bit more. I don't know when it happened but I feel that one of their short serves strained my right quad. I had hurt it lightly on Sunday while training but it didn't feel perfect as we trained hard leading up to the event. Clearly, after two three set matches and jump serving and running up to the net to block full time didn't help the situation and all of a sudden it just went on me deep in the second set.
I took a medical timeout when we were down 16-19 and got it wrapped. I wasn't able to support myself when passing to my right so I hoped a tight tensor would keep me in the game and elevating at the net since the pressure was on me to sideout. After the physio treated me, we came back and I missed a shot line to lose the second set 17-21.
The third set was all about composure and using what resources I had left to force a win. Sadly I wasn't able to adjust very well on offence and we weren't able to pull out all the stops we needed. I honestly feel we were able to win, however, the score shows otherwise. We lost a heart breaker third set 11-15, in what was the end of three hours and fifteen minutes of high intensity volleyball that day.
We are proud of our performance and know we have what it takes to make moves into the main draw. Patience is crucial for us as we return to Canada to work on our weaknesses and train harder so we can withstand the regular three game qualifiers of 2010.
Wish us safe travels home and see some of you in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Red Deer as Chaim and I both plan on resting in our home towns as we regroup for the next series of tournaments.
Cheers to you all!!!