The Niagara Rapids 13U Boys entered their first season of competitive club volleyball with limited experience but a passion and desire to learn. Out of 17 teams, the Rapids boys were the third shortest team, a disadvantage to some but to the coach and boys an opportunity to work on defensive fundamentals and go from there.

The boys progressed over the entire season, placing third at a pre-competition tournament, following up with a fifth, second, third, and fifth place finish over the course of the season.  As the season rolled on, the boys began understanding and developing the power of motivation, teamwork, and momentum, especially since they placed in a Triple Ball format- leading to a lot of longer rallies and fast paced environment.

All season long, the boys continued to show hustle and heart on defense. They were able to commit themselves fully as a team to develop a defensive system where getting the ball up was number one priority. All kids hit the floor when they had too and running an offense came after they all got the job done on defense. The boys being a ‘shorter than average’ team on the court also forced them to develop consistent, accurate shots to open spaces in the court to score most of their points. They were praised all year by coaches from all levels on their dedication on defense and teamwork rather than trying to do it all themselves.

Heading into provincials, the boys were ranked 7th out of 17 teams, a goal that already surpassed visions set at the beginning of the season. The first day of provincials, the boys went 2-1 with a tight loss to the second seeded London Fire. That standing set up a match on championship day with the number one ranked Pakman, who had yet to lose a set all season!

The boys came in not knowing what to expect, quickly falling behind 9-1 in the first set and in confusion on what to do. They battled back, but not enough as Pakman took the first set 25-9. The goal going into the second set was to go back to what the team’s strengths were; teamwork, defense, and the power of motivation and momentum. The boys refocused, prepared, and stepped back onto the court which in turn led to one of the greatest sets played all season.

The boys fought hard and managed to be down 12-10 halfway through from amazing defense and hustle. As the Rapids only had one sufficient blocker on the team, the boys hit the floor every single point and started frustrating the other team, leading to more mistakes and tips that were never seen all season long. The boys began to get louder, and were graciously supported by other 13U teams, Rapids parents, and even other Rapids teams there that weekend. The boys fought and were tied 16-16 when a timeout was called by the Rapids. In the timeout, the first thing that the coach said was, “look around you and take in what you have all accomplished” –referring to the large crowd and loud support.  The boys all smiled and knew what they had done up to that point had created a completely new atmosphere.

The boys fought to 18-20, when the Pakman coach was forced to put in two starters and that seemed to get frustrated with the defense the boys were managing to play. The Rapids managed to do what only 3 teams have been able to do all season- take Pakman to 20 points, losing a tough 25-20 second set and ending their season. The boys received enormous praise from both sides of parents, spectators, and other coaches who stopped by to see what all the noise was all about.

The boys ended up 6th out of 17 teams; a result that was superseded expectations and proved too many people that tough defense creates opportunities. Now that they know what damage they can do, expect big things from this team heading into the 2014-2015 season.