Monday, March 13, 2006

NCVA power league 2 (2006) volleyball

"Women in photo on right vote to change name of sport from "Mintonette" to "Suffrage Slam Dancing". President Wilson brokered a compromise that renamed it "Volleyball and called for players to stop wearing hats during matches."

     I’ve been getting all these warnings about reprisals from the NCVA.  At this point, I have to report that the brake lines of my car are still intact, my daughter is still getting letters from colleges, and rather than being sent to a gym in Darfur we actually played the second league tournament at Diablo Valley College which I consider now one of the better facilities on the circuit.  There were four courts for four pools in a well-lit facility-A dividing curtain between the front and back minimized the number of ball ons- The hardwood floors were newly refinished-The bathrooms worked, though the men’s had no soap-There were good spots to bring food and hang out during the matches including a pond with ducks and picnic tables nearby.  In addition, the flow of play went smoothly, no two hour waits between matches and no confusion about the format.  While I’d heard reports of thieves at an earlier event there getting into ice chests and backpacks, that didn’t happen this time.
     In the NCVA’s girls’ handbook, there’s a bill of rights for the players.  One of those rights is a safe-healthy playing environment. As people who might have looked at other posts on my blog may know, I’m not terribly political :}.  That said, this is my complicated perspective on being a volleyball parent and my recently getting involved in the parent group asking for more of a voice in how NCVA works.

     I’m old enough to remember when the idea of young women getting athletic scholarships was considered a highly political matter.  Title 9, which came from the Nixon administration, is the driving economic force behind our sport.  Title 9 came out of an era when there was a growing cultural recognition that women should have control over their own bodies, livelihoods, and selves.  In the 19th century, women’s legal issues had been literally more paternalistic in that the law expected to protect them from having to make certain kinds of decisions.  

It was during that time that the Nixon Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade which was largely decided as a privacy case. The notion that American women should be expected to make major decisions about their bodies, lives, and society itself is actually fairly new For instance, American women have only had the right to vote for president for 85 years.  

Roe v. Wade has little direct relevance to girl’s volleyball, at least I hope not.  I mention it because our daughters are becoming young women at a pivotal time and I think it’s every bit as important that my daughter take pride in herself, her body, and her right to speak up and decide for herself as it is that she learn to set the four accurately.  The scholarship obsessed wing of the sport that hangs out in prep volleyball is really just a small portion of the young women and their parents who play volleyball. My 70’s perspective (I feel like I should be playing Crosby Stills and Nash and Traffic in the background here) on our sport is that its greatest value is that it helps our daughters learn that their body is something other than sexual capital.  At its best, the sport teaches young women to celebrate and take pride in what they can do with their bodies athletically and as part of a team.  I want to believe that a young woman who learns to train and control her body and will through sports also becomes a young woman who knows how to speak up for herself, even if that includes her growing up to be a pro-life activist.

There is nothing intrinsic about volleyball that guarantees this result.  Our sport has been responsible for fostering any number of negative body image problems that include a body fat obsession that has in many cases induced anorexia.  Second, there have been many cases of coaches whose system and philosophy were tantamount to physical and emotional abuse of our daughters.  At the extreme end, there have been a number of instances of sexual abuse in our sport that occurred much more recently than ten years ago.  

I haven’t said this even to the rest of my parent group, but at one point in our meeting with the commissioner, I mentioned the need to regulate against coaches who cross sexual lines with players as an area where parents have to have a say and need information that clubs might not give them.  The commissioner then quickly told me that fortunately there weren’t any problems with that in Northern California.  She may not have been aware of them, but it wasn’t completely true.  

To me, being a good volleyball parent is not simply a matter of paying bills, dropping my kid off at practice, and cheering at tournaments.  If my kid is in an unsafe or unhealthy situation, she needs to have the confidence that I’ll ask about it, do something about it, and speak up if I don’t get answers (something I’ve learned from my wife)  In that spirit, I also need to know that the money we spend on this in lieu of health insurance, vacations, or saving starving children in other parts of the world, is being used effectively.  If our daughters don’t see us speak up on their behalf, it makes it less likely that they’ll speak up for themselves.  To me, insisting on a region that communicates better than it has is part of being a fully “supportive” sports parent.  
Seeing the region’s bylaws and some form of the budget simply should be the right of any parent in youth sports.  Sadly, I have spent far too much of my time as a volleyparent speculating about who plays where and when or how teams are seeded.  While I still have plenty of interest those matters, I’ve honestly never considered it my right as a parent beyond knowing the what and the why behind those decisions. I also have no interest in running anyone’s tournaments or administering a region, I just want to know enough about it to make sure that my daughter’s right to a healthy-safe environment remains a priority with the region.

     Back to Volleyball

     One of the signs that most of the teams that belong in gold are currently in gold is that all three teams that came up from silver went back.  North Valley, though, certainly made it interesting in pool play.  They lost a very close  two game match with Vision 15-1 then outblocked and outmaneuvered the Empire 16  Mizuno team to easily take the first game of their match.  North Valley is not the sort of team that looks impressive in warm ups although they have good size.  Their setter #4 presented problems throughout the match making very good judgments, dumping effectively, and setting very quick threes to her middles before the Empire blockers could get in position.  North Valley took the first game 25-16.

One of the hard things about the current format is that the 2 vs. 3. match in pool play makes or breaks the entire day for one of those teams. One problem with the 3 team pool is that all 3 teams frequently go 1-1 and the actual difference between first and third is minimal.  If you finish third though the consequences are dire.  You drop into a bracket of four teams and can only survive by winning both matches.  When Empire got behind well into the second game and my daughter’s team was staring at the disinct possibility of having to figure out where the silver division played for league three.  Somehow Empire pulled out game 2 and came back again in game 3.  

During the day, I did finally meet Chris Crader and Souper Dave and it came out that we were actually at the same college in the same year, which is something that happens in California’s junior university system.  Oddly, that was the year before my older daughter started playing club volleyball.  Not long after that, the first junior volleyball website,, sprung up somewhere in the South Bay with a guy who had some sort of vision.  Apparently, he sold it for a net and a bag full of balls otherwise our online volley world might now look a bit different.

Higher level junior volleyball is never completely predictable.  Last time, I talked up the Vision 15’s as one of two teams with a slight edge over the rest of the pack.  Last time, Vision dispatched Empire very quickly.  When they turned up in the same pool, I assumed that it would be a good result if Empire just kept it close which they did 25-23 in the first game.  In the second game, Empire finally used its height advantage at the net, improved its defense, and for the first time this season played serious sixteens level volleyball.  Empire won in a close third game.  In fact, across the gym I’d say that the level of play advanced the way two more weeks of practice and another tournament of strong competition should make it advance.  In that very basic, ultimately important sense, the region is working quite well.  

After somehow not seeing City Beach 15’s all last year and missing this year’s City Beach 16’s team, the League 2 playoffs were my first look at what may be the most physically-talented team in the region.  First off, Morgan O’neill, a 5’9” outside who I think is still a 9th grader, is a very physical hitter who is an active defender, understands positioning on the court, and when given an open 4 will put the ball away with the force and at an angle that makes observers take notice. City Beach’s other left, Katherine Douglas also consistently delivers high-hard swings.  Both lefts are well-trained and appear to know how to hit smart as well as hard.  

If it ended there, Beach would have a very competitive gold level team.  Lyncee Mendalia who comes from that peninsula volleyball town, Salinas, is imo an excellent libero.  On one point, she went back to the net to chase a hard hit ball to the baseline, reached an arm to her left without full turning around, and turned it into a clean dig.  Very few athletes can outrun a well hit volleyball, keep track of it, and maintain any level of control over the contact because the act combines foot speed, vision, and shoulder strength that few people have all at once.

Beach also has not one but two tall setters with good hands in Blair Safir and Melissa Costello, (Costello looks to be the stronger hitter and Safir appeared to be the more mobile of the two which helps because she goes to Bishop O’dowd in Oakland).  Sophia Dunworth and Caitlin Baxter give them athletic middles.  Dunworth is from Amador Valley which makes for a beach that stretches pretty darn far.

Now that I’ve said this, I watched Delta Valley play them very competitively in the crossover match.  I enjoy watching the younger Delta teams because they have a distinctive more or less aikido approach to the game.  Instead of overpowering opponents, Delta teams tend to be about angles, balance, and quickness.  They play two smallish rightsides and any five players on the floor at one time handle the ball well not just passing but setting too. The Delta approach depends on all the players having strong court awareness and moving quickly to the right spot as the play demands. One thing I’m not sure about though is they do a fair amount of hitting balls overhand, flat footed from behind the ten foot line.  In general, I’ve long wondered if the error/advantage ratio for this kind of play works out.  Taking full swings at overpasses is another favorite question of mine.  Last year, Delta 15’s just weren’t very tall.  This year, they added a six foot middle in Taylor Brown who gives them the ability to match up better against bigger teams.  

You don’t see a lot of booming swings from this year’s Delta 16’s, but what I’ve noticed is that this particular version knows how to compete.  You can watch fifteen points where the other team gets three or four spectacular kills and Delta wins eight of the points with someone like Lisa Fowlkes consistently finding holes in the floor and the defense.  If you lose to Delta, you’ll feel like you didn’t play well at all, but I suspect that’s not what really happened.  After Delta lost in two very close games with City Beach, they came back and beat Empire in a three game match that Empire was in position to win at 23-22 in the second.  After going down in the third 5-0, Empire took an 8-7 lead then missed three serves down the stretch including match point, Ouch!

I also have one of these horrible volley parent confessions to make.  One of my friends in the east bay who I hadn’t seen in two years came to meet me for lunch yesterday.  I hadn’t seen the guy in close to two years and yet there was about a ten minute stretch where I watched the Delta/City Beach match which didn’t involve my own daughter rather than visit with him.  He’s threatening to make me attend his kids’ swim meet at the pool next to the Diablo Valley College gym.  

Oddly, Empire’s Power League 2 result was identical to league 1, but this time the team actually played well for much of the day.  In this format, where you place doesn’t tell the whole story in terms of how well your team may have played.  To have a good day, it’s essential that you win the right matches, the 2 vs. 3 in pool and the crossover.

Each time I glance over at a Golden Bear match, the score seems to be 26-27.  They took third place for the day and I noticed the very tall Ayeesha Ellis having an impact in the middle in close matches with Gold Cal and Yahoo.  

The final this time matched Vision 16’s the 1 seed against City Beach 16’s.  The two teams remains very close.  I’d say Beach has more hitting options, but Vision currently is slightly tougher mentally particularly on out of system points.  For the second league in a row, I noticed that Vision tends to set right side Taylor Smith on critical points and that she delivers consistently.  Katherine Knox also gives them a dynamic hitter from the left to answer the two City Beach lefts.  Knox, City Beach’s O’neill, and Smith, all go to Archbhisop Mitty, who along with Amanda Gill should make Mitty a serious contender for prepvolleyball mythical national champion status in 0’7 if not in 0’6 (no, I don’t have any influence on John’s high school or club rankings nor should I).

After an extremely tight first game that went into extra innings, Vision won the second game by never relinquishing a one to two point lead until they pulled away at the twenty point mark.  I imagine Will Yuen drove home feeling pretty good.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to soon returning to being the sort of volleyparent who just watches matches.  This Thursday, my daughter and her team leave for Crossroads, without the guitarist Robert Johnson.  She’s bugging me to reactivate her cell phone least she meet up with Herbert Packer in some Colorado cafeteria.  She tells me, “Dad, if you expect me to speak up for myself how can I without a phone that does text messages and pictures?”


At 3/13/2006 12:49:00 PM, Blogger benny06 said...

Nice post.

A bit off topic, but important. What do you think of Russ Feingold's resolution to censure the President? I support it. I don't think it would weaken Bush with our so-called allies; if anything, I think the ties may strengthen since many of them don't like what he is doing with the war.

At 3/13/2006 04:12:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Hi Benny,
I support it and feel that Feingold has shown leadership by staking out tough territory. When even Barron's says the president may have committed impeachable offenses and Congress doesn't react or investigate, someone has to do something.

I don't know what kind of legs it really has and do wonder if it's just for show, but sometimes making a show is necessary.

At 3/22/2006 12:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not a supporter of either the republicans OR democrats in this current "bitchslapping contest" I watch every night on the news, but I did see an ex-Iraqi Air Force General (who has somehow survived) interviewed last night on the Daily Show by John Stewart (from whom I get all my most favorite news).

He stated flat-out that Iraq did in fact have WMDs and that they were all transshiped to Syria via ground and air just prior to the UN Inspection regime.

Perhaps the ex-general is just another example of heavy-handed propaganda vocalized by a Bush Administration shill rescued from certain death and propped-up on the interview circuit by a nice fat "black programs" expense account... or not.

When I see the long line of democrats spewing their "Bush is a LIAR!" speech in national and international forums, I get all warm and fuzzy thinking of the strong negotiating position we now have with all other members of the world community. Go USA!

Reminds me of the small-time polititicans who have a scanner in their office so they can show up at every traffic accident or nuclear meltdown to get in front of the cameras.

I just want a safe world for my daughter (and all daughters) in which to play volleyball. (forget sons - boys who play volleyball are pussies) ;-)

At 3/22/2006 12:30:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

I agree about letting our kids play in a safer world. I always remember the pictures of Jessica Lynch at the beginning of the war and thinking that she was maybe 2 years older than the players in the 18's.

I find the whole WMD shipped to Syria story very strange. The President has said nothing about it. In fact, he responds that they simply were never found when he does have to answer the question directly, but he relied on the intelligence available.
I did look at the report that this "syria" thing is based on and the operative word were "might" and "Possible" not there is anthrax and nuclear warhead grade material in Syria.
I'm always open to seeing more proof. Also the recently released tapes of Saddam's own meetings strongly suggest that he was frustrated by the fact that he didn't have an operating WMD program.

I'd also male the small point that the Feingold Censure isn't about WMD as much as it's about violating the 4th Amendment and FISA. , thus violating American liberties.

At 3/22/2006 01:50:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

This is the language of the Duefler report that later got "turned around" by the Washington Times

"ISG judged that it was unlikely that an official transfer of WMD material from Iraq to Syria took place," the report said.

The group also said it had been unable to complete its investigation because of security concerns and couldn't rule out an "unofficial" transfer of material. ...

"It is worth noting that even if ISG had been able to fully examine all the leads it possessed, it is unlikely that conclusive information would have been found,"

There is, however, a former Iraqi general who claims that the material was flown in private planes across the border, but there has been no evidence to support this nor to my knowledge has anyone turned up parts for WMDs in Syria.

The administration's own official stance has been that ultimately WMD were not found in Iraq and the search was ended more than a year ago.

Dick Cheney's statements before the war about Iraq having WMD were pretty unequivocal.

I do enjoy John Stewart, but I also try to read the documentary evidence when it's available.

At 3/24/2006 08:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well... are those quotations from the Deufler report in the Washingtom Times, or quotations from the Deufler report in your hands?

If the US caught Syria red-handed with "stuff" that came from Iraq, or had evidence otherwise that Syria was complicit in shielding Iraq from charges they possessed WMDs, that would be very bad for Syria.

But I would not necessarily expect the US to publicly accuse another middle-eastern nation (say, Syria, for example) of an act of war right out of the chute. I would rather expect that the US would bring pressure to bear on Syria via diplomatic or other back-channels, to acheive some of its objectives in the region, like say, the withdrawal of troops from Lebanon or whatnot. You know, who needs another war when you already have two (or more, who knows) going on already?

I wasn't really referring to Feingold's move to censure being based on the 4th amendment or FISA procedures having been violated (although there remains much to debate about that), rather on the fact that Feingold (and many others) have publicly declared Bush a liar, and they have no proof. Seems like blatant rhetorical opportunism to me.

Personally, I'm sure Bush is a liar, because I'm sure that he is a politician, however, I have no proof of the former wrt WMDs.

At 3/24/2006 11:59:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

The quotes are from the Duefler report. The Washington Times spun it to seem to say that there were indeed Iraqi WMD in Syria.

The tone of the report is clearly different from that.

I haven't read through the censure resolution yet, but if Clinton lied about "not having sex with that woman", the president pretty clearly authorized violations of FISA. Actually, there are very few people who even try to argue that he didn't.

At 12/09/2010 09:15:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Amazing sort of fact about to getting all these warnings about reprisals from the NCVA,the picture is also wonderful to see.

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