Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Qualifier round 2 vs Brazil

So we earned the right to play Brazil in the second round of qualification in the Mysclowice, Poland FIVB Open tournament. The team we were scheduled to play had done really well in the first event in China and had won 3 or 4 of the Brazilian tour events in their pre-season. A super strong team to say the least, however, I hate the mentality of teams who draw Brazil and lose the match before they step on the sand. I was pumped for the opportunity to play such a talented team and I wasn't going to give them a single free point as we battled it out.

The match was held on centre court and Chaim and I were feeling solid. Our bodies were limber and we were both jumping high and executing our strengths. The performance of our game versus the other Canadians set the pace for this match and we knew we had to maintain that same focus through the entire second match for a chance at victory.

The match started with multiple straight sideouts and then we made a big point. We were up 8-6 on the first switch and were executing better than we ever had. I was blocking well, Chaim was getting some great touches on defence and our sideout connection was virtually flawless. The makings of the perfect match!!!

Sadly, we made one, then two errors before the end of the set to lose the lead and go down 19-20 with service. With a set play, we trapped the left side into hitting to Chaim and he made a great high dig on a powerful spike. I wasn't able to get him the set he needed to put the ball away so they dug it. I ran back up to the net and blocked the right side out by 6 inches to tie it up. A tough point to lose but we were playing strongly and knew we couldn't let them make those few crucial points in the second set.

The second set started out the same with shared sideout points. They were mostly serving Chaim who was getting the job done so when they came to me I was ready to crush some hits. I wasn't afraid to hit against their 6'7 high flying blocker and was coming in hard with all my options open. Back and forth we went but were down 10-11 as we went into the technical timeout.

When we got back onto the court, they forced a few errors and before we knew it we were down 12-16. Playing top level teams (this team is a main draw team but has to qualify because there are too many brazilian teams in the main draw to begin with) it is paramount you don't give free points because it is so difficult to make them back. Sometimes games can come down to a single error, sadly we made too many.

The second set ended at 21-16 for the Brazilians of Cunha/Thiago. They played solidly and after watching them play the rest of the qualification and main draw, I feel confident in saying we pressed them as hard, if not harder than many teams.

It wasn't a loss to hang our heads because they were by far the best team Chaim and I have ever played. I was proud of us going sideout for sideout with them for most of the first set. The mental strength required to hold your side when under pressure from a top ranked team is quite substantial. It was a good experience for us to understand the level of focus and awareness we need to win big games.

We are now off to train in Poland with the Polish National team at their training centre. We will be staying in one of the player's bachelor suites so we will see how it goes!!!

Thanks for the support and we can't wait for the next big match to win.



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