From defeating the second place team 5-2, when it easily could have been 4-3, we never again lost two matches to the 2nd place team. That's a nice feeling. We break our season down into four pieces. 1. Pre-Season Preparation. 2. First Half of League Season. 3. Second Half of League Season. 4. Post Season. When you are planning all year for postseason, it's a lot less of a pressure feeling when you arrive. It's a little tougher on teams that win league, but have not really thought "We have a playoff match to play". Playoff is a funny word, it gives you that visceral feeling of one and done.
Due to the fact that in our pre-season preparation time I was doing the maximum amount of conditioning with the team, and we had a brutal schedule, our record of 19-5 did not look very sparkly to the seeding committee. In any event I wanted a top 8 seed and we got #9. Now, would you rather be 8 playing 9, or the other way around? I embrace 9 because you get to prove you were better than seeded. Its possible that I could have created an easier schedule, and a better record, and a higher seed, but then I believe we would have been over seeded, more on that in part three.
When we arrived to play #8 at their courts, I noticed that the courts tilted toward the net on both sides. I have never seen that before. I overheard the other coach saying "Be sure not to take this other team lightly even though they have 5 losses" to his team. I did not share that with the team, but I did with my coaches, as we wanted to coach in a way that would help us against a possible overconfident opponent. Those low nets meant ample use of slices and coming to the net.
One of our players stubbornly refused to play the game plan, and lost a tough 3 setter. However, it helped me to gain some credibility in his eyes, when he saw the results from the other players who played it to perfection. Going to the net often in singles was a little out of our comfort zone, but produced a 5-2 win and the right to play the #1 seed. The other coach and team was very gracious in defeat, but it was sad that it seemed so certain they would beat us. Not sure if we got their very best effort.