After 4 years and after 25 tournaments together, this past weekend at the AVP Chicago Championships Maddison and I finished with our first Top Five finish together as a team. There were a lot of “firsts” that occurred and milestones that we passed both as a team and for myself individually: First appearance on a Sunday; first time beating over a handful of guys that I had never beaten…ever. We played 7 matches, went 2-1 on Friday, 3-0 on Saturday (all 3 of which went to 3 sets) and lost a close one to Taylor and Jake early on Sunday morning in the quarterfinals. One of our goals at the beginning of the season was to get to Sunday, and we accomplished that just in the nick of time, however the joy I feel now and felt throughout the tournament was because it was the first time this season, hell, maybe even ever, where Maddison and I were fully on the same page. We had each other’s backs, we communicated efficiently and effectively, our block and defense was synced in such a natural way where the risks and gambles we took individually were calculated and didn’t negatively affect the other or the team as a whole, and our sideout was the best it’s ever been…by far. After our piss-poor performance at the AVP New York Open we announced a shift in focus and our energies from our YouTube channel to improving our game and there really is no better feeling when you can see, and maybe even more importantly feel, the grind convert into results. We are indeed playing our best ball right now and it’s addicting. I woke up this morning excited, like legit giddy, to get down to the beach and do drills. Haven’t felt that in a coon’s age. Initially the purpose of this post was to talk about WHAT THE DIFFERENCE WAS this tournament, to share what I’ve learned and provide some insight to those who read these long posts about what I learned from this tournament (because I do have A LOT of takeaways) but I think I’ll save those for the blog I’ve been thinking of starting (good idea or nah?) I normally try to provide some sort of informational value in these written segments but, man, this time, I thought I’d just share a little bit of that joy you get from playing good, scrappy volley.