by Adam Burns
KANSAS CITY Mo. – Seventeen ties and 15 lead changes. A thrilling way to start a competitive pool play match to say the least.
The WAVE 14s earned a hard-fought three-set victory over A5 Mizuno (29-27, 21-25, 15-8) Saturday morning to move to 2-0 at the time in the R1 Power A pool of the Triple Crown National Invitational Tournament at the Kansas City Convention Center.
The Southern California-based WAVE were on the brink of a first set loss before it bounced back from three game points to take the opener.
“It was exhausting for everybody,” WAVE coach Chris Quinn said. “It was amazing. I'm super proud of the way we battled. To have that grit to pull it out is just such a confidence builder.”
WAVE’s Ivanna Rivera said it was crucial for her squad to win set No. 1.
"It's always good to start out strong, to give you momentum to keep going,” she said. “You have to keep that energy to keep winning each point.”
After a second set loss, the WAVE squad jumped out to a 6-2 lead on its way to a 15-8 match-clinching set No. 3 win. That momentum continued with a straight-set win over Madfrog (25-19, 25-17), succeeding an undefeated 3-0 start to the tournament.
Coach Quinn was happy about the marathon win against A5 Mizuno, an established top program out of Atlanta, but he was more pleased about his squad’s effort.
"I don't think winning it was as important as the way we won it,” he said. “To play some really good teams and to win a close one, it feels amazing. It proves to them that they can beat anyone on any court.”
Meanwhile, A5 Mizuno was forced to reset after the mid-day thriller. But A5 Mizuno coach Helen Lin said facing such strong competition so early is only going to benefit her team moving forward.
“This is the best team we've played,” Lin said. “They're very scrappy. We didn't start very strong and gave them seven serves. Too many errors but it was really good for us. It’ll definitely push us to get better much sooner. If you don't see this (competition) this soon, we will not better quick enough.”
Rivera provided likely the most applicable comment anyone can give after the second match of a long TC NIT weekend.
“It feels pretty good,” she said. “but the job’s not finished.”