by Marcos Aragon
SALT LAKE CITY — After two matches already completed, Idaho Crush 17 had one opponent left on their schedule for Friday afternoon: North Pacific Juniors 17 National.
“Should we have won all three (matches)? Yes. Did we? No,” explained Crush 17 head coach Caroline Bowers. “But that’s okay, because I have four new (players) who have never practiced, they just introduced themselves today. It’s okay, we just need a little time to get familiar with our jobs, our roles, but I expect really good things tomorrow. This is a really good team.”
The Crush 17 defeated NPJ 17, first with a late comeback in the first set, 27-25, and then 25-18 in the next set during Day 1 of Triple Crown’s West Coast Invitational at the Salt Palace Convention Center.
In this Power Pool C matchup, NPJ led in the first set by as many as four points. Despite the Crush’s overall exhaustion, Eden Bower explained how the team didn’t allow themselves to lose focus or succumb to their fatigue, and that came in handy while the team was battling out a win.
“It was a lot of fun, once you’re out on the court -- you’re playing volleyball.” says Bower.
The second set was a much different story for the Crush, who turned on the intensity when they went on a six-point run to open the set and claim a seven-point lead. The Crush never looked back after that. Bowers says that the key to her team’s win was strong serving, but the quick bond the team was forced to create with the addition of four brand new players.
“I think what was finally good is they were finally able to figure out who each other were,” says Bowers. “This is not normal, you won’t see any other teams grab four new players and throw them in; this is a very unique situation. For us, it took some time to figure it out, but tomorrow will be different.”
Bowers pointed out that experience is vital to a team here at this event. Knowing how your teammates will respond to a new environment, especially after playing in empty gyms and not in front of college coaches and scouts, is paramount to team success, but first-time tournament player Alex Acevedo isn’t concerned about her first tournament – she’s welcoming the idea of playing the top teams around the country.
“I really like the competition because in Idaho you obviously have to travel to really get this kind of competition, so it’s good to see nationally best teams,” says Acevedo. “It’s really exciting, you have to have the mindset of ‘do anything you can’ because you can’t be scared of these teams.”
For Bower, she values the tournament as a way to improve her game against teams that she doesn’t normally see, making sure that her team remains as sharp as possible.
“It’s so much fun; this is one of my favorite tournaments that I look forward to,” says Bower. “I feel like I’m always getting better because we’re always being tested.”
The 17’s and 18’s will get back in the fray Saturday in both Power Pool and Open division matches, with the championship matches scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m.