So, here we are. The season has been long and trying, with its share of ups and downs, and we find ourselves in the most exciting time of the year: playoffs.
Now, seeing as how I have not updated this blog as much as I should, there are probably a lot of you out there wondering exactly how this season went. So I’ll give a recap.
So as you may know, this year we played in what’s called the CEV Cup. It’s a season-competition with teams from all over Europe. Every European league sends their top teams into 3 intra-continental cups every year: CEV Champions League, The CEV Cup, and The CEV Challenge Cup. Champions League is the most prestigious, with the top or top 2 teams from every league in Europe. Our cup, the CEV Cup, is next. We qualified for it by making it to the Italian League Final Four last season. So it was a pretty big honor for us, especially seeing how no team has ever been invited to any cup in the previous history of our club. It was fun for me to be both a part of the team that qualified last year, and got to play in it this year.
Now, the CEV Cup operates outside the Italian League, so it’s really like I am playing in 2 leagues this year. As you may have read in a previous post, we did very well this year in the Cup. It works like bracket play, so you have to keep winning to keep playing. We beat teams from Bulgaria, Finland, Austria, Germany, and Turkey to make it to the Finals, before we lost to another team from Turkey. It was a lot of fun travelling and playing in all of these places, and I’d have to say that we’re pretty happy with our performance in the cup, even though we came up just short at the end.
For the Italian League, it has been quite the roller coaster ride. We started the season off great and were in the top 4 for the first couple months of the year. Then, we seemed to hit a rough patch with a couple of losing streaks. This year we have beaten the #1 team and also lost to the last place team (at home, it wasn’t pretty). But overall, it’s been good and we ended up the regular season in 7th of 12 teams. Bringing us to our first round playoff matchup…..
Most of you probably know my good friend, Riley McKibbin. He was my setter at USC. We came in together, graduated together, and had a lot of good times in between. Well, this year, we are facing off in a best of 3 playoff series, with the winner advancing into the quarterfinals. Last Wednesday, we played them at home, and had a pretty un-exciting 3-0 victory (meaning that we pretty much smashed ’em). Last night, however, in game 2 at S.G., was a different story. They came out ready to play and jumped out to a 2-0 lead. We battled back and won sets 3 and 4, pushing it to a 5th. San Giustino is a pretty fun place to play, because they have a small gym with a lot of fans (rowdy ones). So the atmosphere was pretty cool. After battling back and forth, we took a 14-13 lead. They however, came back and won 3 straight points to take the W, 16-14 in the 5th.
Now we have a winner-take-all this coming Sunday, at home for us. It should be exciting, especially with the season on the line. So one week from today, either me or Riley will be done for the year… who will it be???