15U Update: Upangas Buckle, Inkemba Fall Short
March 1, 2020
If you look up the meaning of "Upanga" and "Inkemba", you will find that they are very similar in their English translation. What do they mean? Sword. Ideally, these two Swahili words would represent a position of power and reflect a positive, heightened sense of awareness and "being". That was not the case for either of these teams this weekend as they took part in separate tournaments in OVA competition and, quite frankly, tripped and fell on their own swords.
The Upangas hosted their third 15U OVA event of the season in Oakville on Saturday. Entering this Championship tournament as the sixth seed (52nd overall in the Province), there was hope of continued positive momentum as the team was coming off a second place finish in their first 16U competition of the season the previous weekend. A top three finish in this tournament was the goal set early in the week.
The first match of pool play proved to be the top of the mountain for this team on the day, as they faced Niagara Rapids Platinum. After losing a closely contested first set, the nerves seemed to settle and the team started to show signs of life in the second set. In what felt like an eternity, and taking years off of the coaches lives, the team pulled out a second set victory with a score of 34-32. In the final set of the match, the Upangas were up 8-3 at the turn, and 10-5 before they slammed into an iceberg. Only needing 5 points to close out the match and have the ideal path to achieving their goal for the tournament, the Upangas proceeded to drop 11 of the last 15 points and ultimately lose the match with a 16-14 third set heart-breaker. What could have been a fantastic start to the day and a glorious road to meeting goals turned tragic in the blink of an eye. The story does not get better from here.
In the second pool play match vs. Leaside Flash (the top seed of the tournament and ranked 25th overall in the Province), the Upangas were playing some decent, organized volleyball.. However, too many dropped balls, shanked passes and easy free balls for the opponent to capitalize on led to a swift butt-kicking and a third place finish in the pool. From here, the Upangas faced a Forest City Aspen team that gave them fits in a previous tournament. The results were no different this time around as FCVC made quick work of the match, winning in straight sets 25-13 and 25-16.
It was now off to the losers bracket where the Upangas had the opportunity to save some face, win one match, and play for a chance at a fifth place finish. However, with the wheels already off, the Upangas could not get themselves organized in any way, shape or form, dropping a completely winnable match in embarrassing fashion, enduring a 25-11 thrashing in the first set and a close but "too little, too late" loss of 25-22 to end the match and the day. For the Upangas, this was their second ninth-place finish of the season in Championship play. Not nearly good enough for the way that this team trains.
Our Inkemba were playing in their final OVA tournament of the season prior to Provincials this past Saturday. The team headed down to Simcoe for the Trillium event and were looking to improve upon a disappointing result from the McGregor Cup back in late January. Unfortunately, the volleyball gods were not looking upon any Lakeside team over the weekend as the team did not fare much better than their Upanga sisters.
Ranked second in the tournament coming in, the Inkemba opened the day by dropping a closely contested match with rival Milton Edge Sapphire, 27-25 and 25-23. The team then faced Simcoe Xtreme Lightning for their second match of pool play and pulled out a three set victory 25-30, 22-25 and 15-11. With the pool being decided on tiebreakers (all teams in the pool went 1-1), the Inkemba drew the short straw and placed third in the pool, placing them in the pre-quarter match to stay alive in the playoff rounds.
The Inkemba faced Norfolk Chaos Fury in the pre-quarter match and handled them quite easily, beating the Fury in straight sets, 25-12 and 25-9. They then went on to play the top seed in pool play, Smash Raiders Super Sonics. The match did not go their way as the team fell short of advancing to the semis with a straight set loss, 25-12 and 25-20.
In the final match of the day and a chance to place fifth in the tournament, the Inkemba faced Milton Edge Sapphire once again and looked to seek revenge from their defeat to this team earlier in the day. It was ultimately not to be as the Sapphire took down the Inkemba in three sets, handing the team a seventh place finish for the day and not helping to improve their rankings going into Provincials in April.
Overall, it was a disappointing day for the Club, however with over six weeks of training before Provincials arrive, both of these teams will look to get their acts together and make one final push for a successful end to their 2019-20 campaigns.
Up Next: 14U Shujaas and Isihlangu battle their way to better Provincial rankings in St. Catherines this coming Saturday. Good luck to both teams!