The Bluegrass Tournament is very unique in that there are 116 courts under one roof with well over 700 teams entered. There are multiple age groups (10s-18s) and various divisions (Aspire, Classic, Club, Premier, Open) in each age group. Dayton Juniors had ten teams attending, almost all our Gold and Blue teams. Our team went into the tournament a little shorthanded with middle hitter Alissa out with mono, middle hitter Brianna restricted to back row duty due to an injured shoulder, and Ella participating in the State Science Competition. We needed another attacker in order to compete and since all the Dayton Juniors teams were playing we went outside the club to find a player. Fortunately we were able to sign up Lydia Henry of Greenon. She was able to practice with us for three sessions and then participate at this tournament.
Our team played in the 36 team 16 Premier Division, which had three power pools (containing the top 12 seeds) and six regular pools containing the remaining 24 teams. Our initial pool of four teams proved extremely competitive. We got off to a great start, taking our first match against a North Carolina Xcel team 26-24 and 25-19. Next we encountered Empowered Elite Red out of the Hoosier Region. Although we played well at times we could not control their strong counterattacks and lost 16-25 and 18-25. Although Empowered could only get second in our initial pool they went on later to beat the #1 and #4 tournament seeds from the Power Pools and eventually finished second in Gold. Our third match was against Wildcats Juniors VBC from Michigan. Having lost one of our setters (Krystal) to an ankle sprain against Empowered, we were a little shorthanded. We did score 16 and 20 points in the two sets but we did not play very well and never mustered much of a challenge.
Sunday found us in the top consolation pool with two other teams. We were able to take Eastside Cleveland Elite in the first set 25-18 and stayed in control in the second set to take the match 25-22. We then continued our fine play against Legends VBC out of the Lakeshore Region. After a good 25-20 win in set one we overcame a 2-9 deficit to win the match with a 25-19 score. The sweep of the consolation pool was a good way to finish off our tournament. The 16 Premier Division had many fine teams, quite a few of them could have easily played in the top 16 Open Division. Our team was able to adjust to the lineup changes as we moved a couple of outside hitters to middle and had Lydia hit right side. It was nice to see the players step up to some different roles and play some high quality volleyball — all in all a good showing by the team. A special shout out to the parents too, for their support and a fine Saturday night dinner at the BJ’s Brewhouse.
As you sit on the sidelines you probably wonder what the coaches are writing in their notebooks during the matches. Below are some of my “notes” that will have to suffice since my wife was at the Philadelphia Flower Show and was unable to attend the tournament and take pictures.