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Weekend #2 Round-up 4 reel.

2015 / 11 / 23

So as I promised this weekend was going to be a wild and whacky one. Well lace up your chaps and get your spurs sharpened cuz we have a full corral of action to report on this week.

Let’s start this go round up the valley in Pembroke where no less than 5 Maverick teams competed in the Trillium 14u girls event, for most their first “rodeos” of the season and they didn’t disappoint out of the gates. (Well maybe a little but that would be greedy of us to want more than they produced this early).

Again for those outside or new to the club, at 14u we sport 4 teams that are all loaded with talent and size, add to that mix a young 13u team ready to compete and that gym in Pembroke was full of Red & Black battles all day long.

If you can keep this straight (lord knows I struggle and I came up with the naming scheme!) the 14u girls are branded with a “Villain” theme this season, so while it will sound bad, it’s actually very good to see so many “most wanted” names at the top of the list. The Outlaws, Raiders, Banditas and Desperados all had great days so I guess that means others were out of luck in the process. Meanwhile the Rattlers (13u) joined the pack to make 5 of 9 teams in the draw wearing Maverick colours. Gotta be some kind of record.

And those 13u Rattlers showed everyone that the future is bright for our club as they battled in their first true volleyball tournament giving every opponent fits while they learned how to compete at an age group above. Coach John Salem was pleased with the team’s progress over the weekend and is looking forward to having the girls compete against players of the same age group next week at 13u, a win in their first playoff game over the 14u Vikings Red team was a huge boost for these overachievers as the day was becoming gloomy.

For our true 14u teams this was a perfect chance to compete with some new teams but also to battle within the family to see who would be first in line at the Chuck Wagon. Coaches will always lay a little low when they talk about their team in these situations but I know that there is a lot more of the competitive juices flowing when they play teams from their own club. Bragging rights are sometimes more useful at the next campfire than any medal ever is. Roster, rankings and past placements are usually thrown out the window when it's an inter-club match, any team can win the match on any given day.

The Banditas and Desperados are “competitive level” teams while the Outlaws and Raiders are “pre-HP” in their training model. At this point it’s up to the coaches and players to either validate or change the order of ranking. The Raiders had an overpowering  start as they cut down the Banditas and Vikings Black in pool play and then sailed through the Vikings Red in the quarters. Coach McMullin and the girls were on a roll it seems. Up next were those pesky Noir et Or girls from Montreal whose club has thwarted so many Maverick escapades in recent tournaments. Well it seems these young Maverick renegades were not about to be pushed around and in the end took a thrilling 3rd set win to earn their place in the finals.

The Outlaws on the other hand had it seems the reciprocal day to the Raiders. Slow start against the Vikings Red team, followed by a convincing win over the Noir et Or put them into a quarter-final vs the host Vikings Black girls, where they needed to play comeback in order to gain a berth in the semis against the Banditas. Coach Krawchuk and his girls were the heroes of the highway in this confrontation and were now ready to meet the Raiders who train alongside them under the watchful eye of Master Coach, Mohammed Shaheen. Seems Coach Moe had to take a seat on the sideline for the final to maintain his position as Sheriff. An all Mav final between his two pre-Hp teams! Could we have scripted it any better. The resulting feud was as follows: Outlaws win Gold over Raiders while the Banditas settle for 4th in a tough 3 set loss to the Noir et Or from Montreal.. The Desperados were then able to win the 5th place match against the Rattlers. What a great day in Pembroke and it really invokes the #mavsproud in all of us. Do I need to spell it out any further…

Ok so moving up in age groups and further east on the map we find no less than 4 Maverick squads at the 16u Trillium East event in Hawkesbury.  For those without a program the 16u teams have been assigned their team names based on the core concept of gambling, this activity it seems was a distraction in the old days out west… not like today. The coaches were in this event to find the “sure thing” and a winning hand for victory.

At this tournament we find the two “comp” level 16u teams (the Aces coaches by Gord Faulkner and the Gamblers coaches by Joel Bergeron) and the two HP 15u teams playing up an age group, the Ambush and Stampede. (Coach Chico’s 15U HP Stampede were a last minute addition to the event when the Noir et Or dropped out late in the week. We as a club are so proud of our teams, as they understand how to be part of a larger community despite an injury laden roster.)

Back to the action... after a day of grueling pool play schedule the dust settled with all 4 Maverick teams on the same side of the draw heading into playoffs. The Ambush and Gamblers finished second in their pools while the Aces and Stampede filled out the bracket. The sunny side of all this meant a guarantee that one Maverick team would be in the final, it also determined that a podium sweep (not out of the question in my opinion) would not be a possibility. We could blame the Ambush for the congestion but that wouldn’t be to nice to those girls. [the coach is another matter and we will deal with him later! ;-)  ]

In the quarter finals the match-ups were as follows, the 16u Aces vs 15u Ambush (Nguyen) and on another court the 16u Gamblers vs 15u Stampede.  How I would have loved to be there to witness this moment. Both matches did not disappoint with all 4 teams doing their best to prove their place in the Maverick drive. Some would say this was the most thrilling round of the day others would say we are making too much of it. The resulting wins by the Ambush and Gamblers in very close matches underscored that it would not be just another Mav vs Mav in round 2 as billed, but a battle for supremacy in the family.

In the semi final match up between the Gamblers and the Ambush, the 15u HP Ambush underscored the fact that their future is very bright, following a move to 15u Premier last weekend, they were now hungry for another promotion at 16u and would not be denied. Not to mention a date with redemption in the finals. 

On the dark side of the draw it seemed the Ottawa Fusion 16u team proved to be the “best of the Non-Mavericks” as they moved to the finals with a narrow 2 set win over the new Servivors from Rockland. (Great name btw! Kudos Rocklandites) With this 16u Ottawa team having defeated the 15u Ambush earlier in the day I am sure they were looking to the top of the podium before the match began.

If that was the case then they don’t know how much Ottawa supremacy motivates certain coaches, and that the 15u Ambush would now be at full gallop with Coach Nguyen letting out all the reins for an eventual Gold and the redemption for what I mentioned earlier. Phew!! Great job ladies, you made your trail boss proud! “Keep your eyes on the prize”, it is not how much you win but when you win that will in the end define your season.

To cap off a great day for the 16u girls it is also important to note that the 16u Gamblers were able to rebound to their semi-final loss and go back out a play a stellar performance in the bronze medal. As I mentioned last week I still feel this is the toughest medal to win, this group of plucky young fillies made it two weeks in a row winning the bronze. While that is a nice side to the story, I am sure some time soon this team is going burst through in a semi-final very soon.

Where to next???  Hold your horses… we are not done at 16u yet. Over the horizon in distant Scarborough our two 16u HP teams were battling at the Championship level for promotions to either the Premier (top 2 finish) or a promotion to the new Select Tier (3rd and 4th) created for 16u girls this year. As well, a third place finish also qualified the bronze medalists to be considered for a wildcard berth into Premier. A lot was on the line for our two 16U HP teams in a tournament that featured the defending Provincial Champions at 15U from Scarborough and the defending 15U National Champions from Durham Attack. Ontario is very deep in girls volleyball when compared to other provinces.

Coaches Spack and Henderson who had good starts last weekend at 17u, were now chomping at the bit to see how their charges could do at their own age group.

These teams are both targeted to do great things this season and today was no exception. After pool play the BlackJacks and WildCards found themselves on the opposite side of the draw with the BlackJacks winning their pool handily and the WildCards finishing second in theirs. This meant an “all Maverick final” was still on the board as a possibility. One could only hope!

Spack's BlackJacks found themselves in tough vs DRVC in the quarters . For some this would be a mountain too tough to climb this early in the season, but Coach John who is sporting a new knee, was ready for the challenge of such an uphill climb. His team responded to the leadership of their new “trail boss” and with a win like this in their holster the girls found themselves in tough against the Titans from Scarborough. Those same Titans who happened to be the defending 15u Provincial champs!!  This burr in their saddle proved to be a little more than they could handle and despite a thrilling 26-28 loss in the second it was off to the bronze for our girls.

On the other side of the draw the second place Wildcards dealt a tough loss to coach Henderson’s former club the Evolution, in straight sets after a nervous and slow start. Their reward was to line up against the defending 15u National Champion Durham Attack posse in a somewhat challenging semi. Revealing the shortness to their deck, the Wildcards folded in the end and had to settle for a date with the BlackJacks in the bronze.

A battle for the Bronze was not the only thing on the ledger for these teams. The bronze medalist not only had a guarantee in the new Selects division, they could be fortunate enough to be the wildcard entry to the Premier division for the next event.  With all that on the line we saw yet another RedBlack battle take place on this crazy weekend.  The BlackJacks won this hand but I am thinking there will be many more encounters across the net for these amazing young players and their coaches all season long. Now we will just have to see what is up as the OVA plays their cards close to the chest in these matters, worst case scenario is that two Maverick teams will be in the deck for the first ever Selects tournament.

Finally off to the 18u girls division, and here we find the Broncos competing at the Premier division in Oakville while the Colts were in Cobourg for Trillium along with the 17u HP GoldRush who were playing their second event in two weeks.

After a great finish to the 2014/15 season Coach Colin Walker was eager to take his newly charged up thoroughbred team into their final charge at the 18u OVA season. Adding players from two 18u teams last season, a stand-out transfer from cross the city and two recruits from the Valley the coaching staff was eager to test their pedigree.

While these girls were well used to riding in the saddle they forgot how the simplest of errors would make for a tiresome journey. In the end they personified how wins at the right time could make for a happy sunrise. A 2 and 3 record could be worse if the final encounter fell on the 3 side of the ledger. From the boss’ perspective too many of the girls haven’t been exposed to the tough wrangling needed to come out on top. We are sure that he has the spurs to make it happen before the season is over. For now a 5th place finish means they will be back to test their stripes against the best again next go round.

The 17u GoldRush came up empty in their first clash of the day against the Pumas of Prescott-Russell. A thrilling win for several former Mavs who have decided to stay closer to home to play with their local club was surely a thrill; but with big moments come big responsibilities.

Under the reins of veteran coach Judi Mousseau the team picked themselves up and dug in for a succession of wins that would eventually take them to the final. On the way they redeemed that early morning setback with a straight set win over the Pumas and got to the final, where they met up with the host Breakers team. The team wasted no time and repeated an earlier win in claiming not only the gold medal but a promotion to the Championship level at an age group above their own. Amazing work by an amazing group of women.

The Colts are our 17u/18u competitive girl’s team under the direction of new Maverick head coach Aaron Wade. They are small but feisty breed the Colts, and were out to prove their pedigree. The best description I could get was that this team is “finding itself” and after this weekend we are certain they are going to like what they discover. A solid 2nd in pool play was encouraging, yet after a disappointing loss in the quarter to Scarborough Evolution the girls bounced back to win against STVC Titanium only to drop their 5/7 game to Durham Attack. Good work girls, the season is long and we know you and your coach are on the right path.

So after all this XX talk lets finish with the 18u boys. A team that has been so close over their career that many of us here at the Ranch House are hoping new Sheriff Frank St Denis will get the most out of this herd of Mustangs and lead them to the big show.

A split in pool play, featuring a win against the 17u Pakmen and loss to the 18u LVC Fire seemed to set the stage for another tough semi-final match, but that wouldn’t materialize as the guys lost a lackluster Quarter final against a 3rd place STVC Titans team that they had no problems with in the past. While early season results are not the goal for their new rough rider Coach Frank St Denis, he was able to regroup this group of thoroughbreds and win the crucial 5/7 game to remain in the premiere division.

The resulting celebration was just what the coach had asked for in trying to change the mentality of this crew. First you need to know how to win and then you set out to make it happen. With a group of “Buckaroos” like St Denis, Lavigne and Ip (ya look it up if you think I am tired) riding these Broncs we are sure this is one Steed who will be ready for the big show in April.

That’s it for this weekend and if you can tell me how many Western metaphors I have used in this article I will supply you with a cold beverage suitable to your pedigree and standing at the next club rodeo.  

Happy Trails.  #mavsproud

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