I was thinking today in practice how my kids, when scrimmaging against the 18's, were scoring most of the the 18's points for them. On the flip side, they were earning their own points.
That has been on my mind quite a bit... the concept of earned points. I noticed that frequently the difference between winning and losing last year came down to the number of non-earned points by the opposition. I can deal with a loss when the other team has clearly dominated you in terms of strong kills. Those are earned points. No one likes to lose a game like that, but it's certainly easier to handle.
What's tough is when you score the other team's points by making critical mistakes. I saw a lot of that in practice today with poor passes, bad tips and sets into ambush blocks. In all fairness, it's not "normal" for them given what I've observed so far, but without a tournament it's hard to say if they're hot and cold in practice and an always-on tournament team.
I've never had a talented team that could consistently get it done in tournaments. I honestly feel that an average team that can push hard at all times is better than a talented team without drive. The year before last I had a very average (and short) team that did pretty well despite being horribly under-powered. They won three tournaments and placed 19 out of 54 at the Northeast Qualifier. Compare that to last year when I had a talented team that lacked drive, won one tournament, and we were in the 30-something range at the NEQ.
Will this team be talented and driven? I know they're talented, and a week from now I'll know the answer to the second part.