Mandatory 3 was played at Artesia High School. Not the greatest venue; the courts were placed in tightly, and there was a maroon line about 3 feet before the end line that confused all the players. Purple Starlings entered as the 4th seed owing to winning the bracket in Mandatory 2.
The first match was against 2nd seed 951 Elite. 951 was a tall, tough serving team. The starlings were plagued by service errors and poor passing and lost the first game 25-12. Game 2 was a bit more exciting. Strong serving by Jazmine Stenger-Smith (7 serves 2 aces and no errors) put the Purples up 7-0 at the beginning of the game. 951 battled back and had the lead for a while, Purple battled back and eventually prevailed 26-24. Elite was serving very tough. Starlings could not carry this momentum through to Game 3, and went down 0-6 at the beginning and never recovered, losing game 3 7-15.
Second Match was against 1st seed Culver City. Game 1 featured 5 service errors by the Starlings, which eventually cost the game, Starlings losing 19-25. Game 2 was a very tight game with only 2 service errors, strong serving by Brooke Nelepovitz, and a key kill by Allie Sliva. Starlings lost 23-25.
Third Match then became a win or go back to division 10. This was against 900Squarefeet. 900Squarefeet was 1-1 on Matches and Starlings had to at win Match 3 to have a chance at a 3rd place. Game 1 featured strong play by Michaela Metcalf with 5 serves, 2 aces and 3 kills, 8 serves 3 aces by Allie Sliva and some key defensive plays by Grace Tesdall. Starlings won 25-19. Game 2 featured solid play by Becca Stoffel, some key defense by Grace Tesdall, strong and tough serving by Bridget Ingle with 3 aces, strong serving by Jazmine Stenger-Smith (10 serves 1 ace and 0 errors) and key blocks by Michaela Metcalf, great jousting by Brooke Nelepovitz and a key kill by Allie Sliva. Starlings won 25-17 with only 2 service errors.
The Starlings victory meant a worst case scenario of 3rd place, having beaten 900Squarefeet head to head and also having a higher game percentage (3 wins 4 losses for Purple versus 2 wins and 4 losses for 900Squarefeet). After the coaches settled in to referee the final match—Culver vs 951seed, it was found that if Culver lost in 2 games, Starlings would actually place second having the higher game percentage. If Culver lost in 3 games, it was still a worst case scenario of 3rd place, however our iPhone statkeeper was out of town so a point percentage calculation was unavailable. If Culver won they would take first place, and the Starlings would still be 3rd.
Culver lost the last match in 2 games, and, thanks to that one victory versus 951, Starlings finished in second place and remain in Division 9.
What a Difference One Game Makes