Heading into MEQ's second weekend, HPSTL teams were ready for the toughest field of teams they have seen outside of National Championship Tournaments. In each Open age group, there were a minimum of seven teams that had Open bids the previous year. With the mindset of taking things one match at a time, HPSTL rose to the challenge and finished the tournament with six of its ten teams finishing in the Top 10.
Coming into the tournament ranked 22nd, 16 Royal finished 2nd in Silver (14 overall) in the Open field. It was the highest finish of any Gateway team. On their route to the Silver runner-up finish, they beat two teams who had Open bids last year and continue to turn heads while doing so. 16 Orange had an exciting weekend as they finished 9th overall after losing in the Gold bracket of American. Four of their eight matches went three sets as they finished the weekend with a record of 6-2 and finished highest of any team in the Gateway Region as well. Illinois 16 Select finished their weekend one match short of .500.
HPSTL made its presence known at the 17s age group as 17 Royal and 17 Elite finished 9th overall and in the Gold pools on the final day. 17 Royal was in a three-way tie on the third day, where the winner would be in the final four with two bid matches at their disposal. Unfortunately 17 Royal lost a heartbreaking tiebreaker set 25-23 to be knocked out of bid contention. Illinois 17 Elite's tournament was jam packed with excitement as they won two separate 1 set playoffs on day two to advance into the Gold pools for day three. Most impressive for 17 Elite was that they came in ranked 35th and upped their seed by 26 spots by the time the tournament finished!
17 Orange had an outstanding tournament as they went 6-1 and finished 9th in American. They were dominant throughout their run as they didn't drop a set until their quarterfinal loss. Illinois 17 Select beat their seed in USA by 22 spots as they finished 35th out of 74 teams.
18s was interesting because Illinois 18 Select already had a USA bid and 18 Royal had a National bid, which is higher than a USA bid. Regardless, each team competed hard to prove that they were the cream of the crop. 18 Royal finished 5th overall after a tough 3 set loss that finished 17-15 in the third to the eventual runner-up. 18 Select finished 9th overall after escaping a tough day one pool that including a tie-breaking set to advance. They ultimately improved their seed by an astonishing 33 spots! Unfortunately 18 Orange was a on the wrong side of a 1 set tie-breaker on day one that knocked them out of Gold. They continued to fight hard and wound up with a .500 weekend!
Next weekend, MEQ 3 hosts 14s and 15s in Indy as the quest for bids continues!