By Katelynn Hough (student journalist at Minarets High School)
MINARETS — The Minarets Varsity Volleyball team left on Oct. 2 for their five day trip to attend the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Arizona. The team was invited last Spring to attend the tournament and had been fundraising and preparing for eight months. The team left at 4 p.m. after school on Wednesday and split the ten hour drive into two parts, stopping in Redlands, California, that night. The team stayed at the tournament host hotel, the Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix. Senior Varsity Player Mia Shockley, commented how some of the girls were talking about how the hotel reminded them of High School Musical 2. She also said, “one of the most fun things was singing along to High School Musical in the van on the way there.”
On Thursday evening, after the team got settled, the Mustangs attended the all-tournament team dinner. All 100 teams participating in the tournament gathered to eat, dance, and have fun before the tournament play started on Friday. Senior Libero Lexi Baird said, “One of my favorite memories from the trip was when my team lifted me up to crowd surf, during the all team dinner.” When talking to the varsity team they all agreed it was a very cool experience for them because the teams that participated in the tournament came from all across the country.
The Minarets Mustangs started the tournament playing at Chandler High School in Chandler, Arizona. That Friday, the team started strong winning their first game against, MCCall Donnelly High School, from Idaho. The next game they played was a mix up, they played against the Division 1 Chandler High School Wolves. The Mustangs fought but lost in a close second match. That game ended up not counting in the tournament because Chandler wasn’t supposed to be in the Mustangs pool play for the tournament. The last game of the day the Mustangs lost against Casteel High School, from Arizona. Baird when asked how it felt playing against these out of state teams stated, “It was a lot more fun for me as the libero, I proved to myself that I could play against these harder teams.” (The libero is a back-row specialist in the game, she picks up hard driven swings, serve receive, and specializes in defensive play.) Minarets went one and one on record for Friday.
After the Friday games the team went out to dinner where they bonded before their Saturday games. Varsity Assistant Coach Jaethan Chacon said, “I think the team had good moments when they played, I think it was also good experience for the girls to play in this tournament. I’m happy with what the team got out of the tournament and also the bonding that took place.”On Saturday the Mustangs fought, but ultimately ended up getting 7th in their bracket play. For the whole tournament they went 2 wins and 4 losses. They played Notre Dame Prep School, American High School, Sage Hill High School, and Southwest High School.
Although the Mustangs didn’t do as well as they had hoped, this tournament was a good learning experience and helped the team get ready for play offs. Senior Setter Lindsay Gilles said, “As a team I think we could have done better, this tournament has been hyped up so much over the past 8 months I think we felt the pressure and let it consume us.” Coach Jessica told the team after they finished playing on Saturday, “I hope this tournament stings and that we use this failure as fuel.”
The team plans to do just that as they are finishing league games, with a still undefeated record and preparing for playoffs which are soon to come.