In time, the nervousness that comes with advancing deeper into tournament play will subside for the Northern Chill 12U Arctic Blast girls. For the moment, coach Warren Frantz gladly accepts it as just part of the package, at this age.
"They weren't perfect," suggested Frantz, his team returning from tournament play last month in Newmarket. "They're still young and trying to figure things out. They got a little nervous when the playoffs came around. They have a pretty good handle on the technical stuff, but most importantly, they played hard, and they didn't back down from the challenges."
Competing in their first full-fledged OVA tournament, the Arctic Blast opened play at the McGregor Cup - Trillium "C" playdown, taking the first set of the day, 25-17, over the top seeded North Bay Lakers - White. And though the latter would come back to win 25-22, 15-11 in the final two sets, the Chill would still get the better of the Pakmen of Toronto, winning 25-23, 25-20 in their very next game.
The spotlight of quarter-finals, not to mention a match-up with the eventual bronze medal winners, may have affected the locals in a 14-25, 24-26 setback at the hands of the Storm Blizzard from Aurora. Still, the fight was evident as the youngest of the Chill teams closed out the day with a 21-25, 25-14, 12-15 loss to the Pakmen, sliding into seventh place.
Beyond his over-riding thoughts, coach Frantz did highlight the play of some of his individual talent, in the form of:Isabelle Renaud - "She's just been working so hard, asking a lot of really good questions in practice. In the playoffs, she became a rock - she was our go-to player."
Alyssa Amadio - "In the second set, when things were really close, she was going toe to toe with their best player," noted Frantz, of his only underage player. "She made every single play in a couple of exchanges."
Addison Benedict - "She's been a leader on our team all year. She's a work-horse who carries her heart on her sleeve."
Rounding out the Northern Chill Arctic Blast roster are Sixing Cathy Qin, Danika Bouffard, Brooklyn Melanson, Avery Gauvreau, Maili Jutila, Grace Bourget, Avery Egers, Salma Ibrahim, Hailey Ayre, assistant coach Kevin Bouffard, and co-managers Nick and Lisa Ayre.