This weekend was a really nice way to end the season. I was particularly happy because we had not put our best effort into the games against U of T and York in the fall. This time around I really wanted to play some good matches against our rival schools - and my wish came true. The U of T game was probably my favourite match of the season - but first I'll start with York.
I always like playing York because there is the underlying tension that we both really want to beat each other. A lot of our guys are friends with some of the York players, so there is definitely a friendly rivalry that goes on. I also like playing York because they have two really great Middles, so playing against them is an exciting challenge for me. We played pretty well throughout the game - particularly during the first and second set. There was lots of momentum shifting between the two teams. They beat us the first set 25-22. We then came back fighting during the second and beat them 25-17. However, we fell to 25-15 in the third and then lost the fourth set 25-19. If there is one thing our team needs to improve on, I think it is definitely our mental toughness. The York game was a perfect example of this. Both teams were competing with each other until we got down in the third set. From that point on, we couldn't seem to pull ourselves out of a rut. For me personally, I didn't feel like I had that good of a game. I was a bit slow on both my hitting and blocking, and I hit a few serves into the net.
However I made up for it the next day during our game against U of T. I think it was my best game personally and one of the teams' best games as well. Re-watching the full game online still makes me nervous, but it doesn't even compare to the anxiety I felt during certain parts of the match. The most nerve-wracking moment for me came near the end of the second set. Toronto was up 24-20 and I was going back to serve. Before serving I took a huge deep breath. I served it in, and eventually we got the point. Everyone celebrated and cheered, but I wanted to keep my composure. As we all huddled in to celebrate, I took long, slow, deep breaths to calm myself down. I didn't want to get too excited and serve the ball out as a result. This similar process occurred after every point we scored, until eventually I got us up to 25-24. After a long, hard-fought battle, we won the set 32-30. I was really proud of my ability to work under pressure. I was also happy with my hitting. I finally started to feel like I was really getting the timing down and connecting with the set. I had what was probably the biggest hit of my career during the second set when I cut a ball to position 4, before the service line. It was a great game for our team overall. Unfortunately we fell just a few points short in the final set, as they beat us 15-13.
Obviously losing was upsetting, but I was extremely proud of the way we played that day. It was a great way to end the season and say goodbye to our graduating players. Every time I think about this game and the way we played, I get more and more helpful for the seasons to come.