The Fourth Annual ELLApalooza Bash

Team Sandy Six NinesIt’s hard to believe it’s been that long already, but it has – and like a fine whiskey it gets better as the years go by.

ELLApalooza turned four yesterday.

If you’re not acquainted with ELLApalooza you can check it out here (the web site) or here or here (The Paul Gillespie Experience).  But if you don’t want to click on the links the short is this: it’s consistently one of the best charity tournaments out at Volleyball Beach.

This year was no exception.  There were a record number of teams there – 26 – and I’m hoping when the final tally comes in that we absolutely blew away last year’s record $15k raised for the Waner Children’s Foundation.  As always the team that organizes the tournament did a spectacular job, as did the crew at Volleyball Beach.  And however they arranged it the weather was absolutely perfect (80s and overcast)…unless your goal was to get a bunch of the suns rays to kiss your skin.

This year I had a completely new team (for ELLApalooza, anyway).  Cynthia, Sarah and I play together on Sundays and Jenny and Darren were a key part of the championship One-by-One team we fielded last month (remember this post?), but Jesse, Steve and Josh were all new to the team.  We found ourselves in the rec division – we weren’t comfortable going power this year just by virtue of never having played together before and not knowing how well we’d gel as a team.

We started our journey on the white court.  We were up against a very solid quads team but we kept up with them in the first game, keeping the score within a couple of points.  Unfortunately at that point things fell apart and we ended up giving up six or seven in a row to drop the game 15-8.  The second game we fared even worse – we lost 15-6.  A big piece of that was getting our feet wet with a new team – regardless of talent you have to get a good feel for how everybody interacts.  So we didn’t think too much of it and just ordered another bucket of beer.

The second match, on gray, was much better.  We did just fine, taking both by as wide a margin as we lost the first two.  That definitely gave us some more hope that we weren’t going to miss the tournament by being the bottom team in the seven-team pool.  The third match we dropped both games, as well, but by closer margins.  The fourth was two wins by closer margins.  It seemed as though everybody was getting their sand legs under them by this point.

The next two matches – one on green, the last on white, separated by a bye – we split with one win and one loss in each.

That put us squarely in the tournament with a .500 record.  While we hung out and listened to the raffle winners shout for joy (there were some absolutely incredibly raffles…as there always are) we decided to continue to work on the buckets of beer that magically (?) kept appearing on the tables in front of us.

Unfortunately that might not have been the best strategic decision for our tournament hopes.  After starting out with a four point lead we gave up something like 9 points in a row and ultimately dropped the game 21-11, eliminating us from contention.

But it’s all good – we had a great time and enjoyed the after-party, as well.

If you’d like to see some of the pics (not too many, although most of the ones you see were taken by one of my youngest four) you can find them here (on Facebook).

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