U-15 Prairie Fire nab second place at Big Bear 0
The Prairie Fire Black under-15 girls' team got hot at the right time at the Big Bear Tournament on Saturday.
After a tough round-robin, the squad was occupying the bottom spot in its pool, but the team caught fire in the playoffs and made a run all the way to the final, where they lost to Killarney 2-1 (15-25, 25-12 and 15-11).
Against Club West, a top team, the Prairie Fire lost 26-24 and 25-23 in the round-robin, but rebounded to capture a 2-0 (25-10 and 25-15) win in the playoffs.
Coach Trevor Shackleton said the team was strong in the round-robin overall, but managed to put things together in playoffs.
"For the first tournament of the year, we did remarkably well," said Shackleton. "The day started off a little slow. We just were getting a lot of real good points.
"We had a couple good games (against Club West and Killarney in the round-robin. We had one stinker, but that's just the way it went."
Shackleton credited the Prairie Fire's defence for helping to turn the tide in the playoffs.
"In playoffs, things just started to go well. We served well, but probably better than that, our defence was stifling," said Shackleton. "We had tremendous blocking and nothing hit the floor.
"They were even digging them out of the audience to bring them back in, and we were still getting hits from them."
In the final against Killarney, the Prairie Fire had a strong opening set, ran into a hot server in the second, and had some tough luck in the deciding set with the score tied 11-all.
"We had two big hits, but one got blocked and hit the line, and then we got a big block and it went out by about a quarter of an inch," said Shackleton. "Then we had another big hit and it just missed the back door."
Shackleton said the team is glad to get out of practice mode and into tournament mode after weeks of training.
"The important part is to play each point better than you did the last one and just try to do a lot of little things right," said Shackleton. "We have been focusing on our defensive play and defensive positioning, and it's hard to just with practice, practice, practice.
The Prairie Fire will be hosting provincials in April, and Shackleton hopes to show well.
"We're really focusing on provincials, doing extremely well at provincials," said Shackleton. "We aren't going to put a number, because if you put a number and don't reach it but still play extremely well, then you can be disappointed.
"We'd really like to be in the championship round and do real well at provincials. There are a lot of little steps that have to take place before that occurs, but we had a real good step at Big Bear."
Meanwhile, both the under-13 and under-14 Prairie Fire Black teams attended the Fury 14-U tournament.
The under-13 squad went 1-3 in round-robin play, tying for third but missing playoffs on point differential. The under-14 squad went 2-2 in round-robin play and lost its first playoff match to the Cougars 2-1 (16-25, 25-22, 6-15).