Friday, March 9, 2018

MCVB Gear Fundraiser

Several alums have asked if we could do an MCVB Gear on-line store, so here's the chance to get your MIDD Volleyball stuff!!  (Not just for alums, but for FANS as well!!)  We're doing this as a fundraiser to help support the team, and hopefully this gets you all some great MIDD gear to wear around and show your support!  There are youth sizes, so those of you with kids can get your gang in some MIDD Volleyball gear now, too!  Shop NOW because the Orders Due by Friday, March 23, 2018!

We're also working on an Alumnae Game for next year, so for any of the alums reading this, we'll keep you all in the loop for that also.  There is a limited offering of MCVB gear in town, so THIS is the place to get your volleyball gear if you're interested!  Happy shopping!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

College Trustees Invite Coaches and Athletes to Dinner

When the College Trustees were last on campus in January, they invited a group of coaches and student athletes to have dinner with them at Atwater.  Becca, Isabel, Chellsa and Sarah were invited to join me for the event.  It was a very fun evening, and we had a chance to mingle and talk with several trustees, which was very nice.

There was a small panel of student athletes who all shared a "Middlebury Moment" with the group, and then we were asked to share our own "Midd Moments" at our tables.  Becca was selected to sit on the panel and the MIDD Moment she shared was winning NESCAC's in 2016.  She highlighted not only winning NESCAC's, but the community spirit she felt when our Field Hockey team, who was also at Tufts competing in their championship all streamed into the gym after their game and gathered in the gym to watch and cheer at the end of our come-back match!

They had an open bar, and since everyone but Chellsa is of age, we were able to share a glass of wine together, which was also nice.  The food was good, and it was great for me personally to connect with an old friend from college who is currently serving on the Board of Trustees, in addition to meeting some other board members and getting to know each other a little.  It's always fun to spend time with team members in other settings, so this was a great opportunity for that as well!  The Board has been meeting with various focus groups around campus and this was an opportunity for many of the board members to have a much closer look into what role athletics has played in these student's experience.

By the time I'm posting this, J-term has ended and second semester just started.  Isabel is already in Prague, and our seniors enter their final semester of undergraduate!  Over Break we also got a beautiful new foot of snow!!

Happy February from MCVB!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

MCVB Celebrates Season with Team Brunch

We celebrated our season at Rosie's Restaurant over brunch a couple weeks ago now, and I want to share the pictures from it with everyone.  It was a fun morning and a good way to get the day going for those still studying hard for finals.  A couple of people were actually leaving later that day with finals either being done, or papers that could be handed in on-line.

It's so hard to go from seeing the team every day to only seeing them once in a while, so I always look forward to the banquet because it's usually the first time I'll see the team all together since the last day of our season.

The first people I want to recognize from our banquet are the 7 Nescac All-Academic players.  This is something we pride ourselves on, and this group kept up the exceptional work in the classroom as well as on the court, so I'm proud to recognize these 7:  Sarah, Emily, Becca, Eliana, Chellsa, Alice and Isabel.  Great job, guys!!

Next, we want to recognize our Team award winners.  The team votes for three awards.  We have the MCVB Spirit Award to recognize the person who consistently demonstrates the positive spirit of MCVB.  That award went to Beth Neal.  The team also votes on the Yellow Jersey Award (think Tour de France).  This award recognizes the person who gives consistent effort and works hard to become a better player every day in practice.  This award went to Emily Kolodka.  The final award is the Panther Pride Award which recognizes a player for being the best teammate.  Becca was awarded this for making those around her better by holding herself and others accountable to a high standard of excellence, while also being supportive and understanding.

Next, we honor our freshmen for getting their Varsity Letter.  Physical Education is a graduation requirement at MIDD, so every freshman athlete gets one credit out of the way by playing a varsity sport.  In the Physical Education Department, one has to demonstrate breadth of activity, not depth, so they only get one PE credit for volleyball, even playing 4 years.  (As the Director of PE, I fully support this!)  We've had people do fun things with their letters like make a Varsity Letter Jacket (very cool!), and a Holiday stocking with the M on it.  Congrats to our freshmen for earning their Varsity M!

Our seniors are a focal point of the banquet also and although we don't have them give speeches (perhaps that's a good idea for the future), it's nice to honor them for their dedication to the Program for four years.  To show my appreciation, I've given the seniors a fleece blanket embroidered with their # on it for several years now, maybe decades?!  :)

We also honor the captains for this year and thank them for all the hard work they do keeping the team together, helping the communication lines between the team and the coaches stay active and helping motivate and organize the team, so a big THANK YOU to Becca, Emily and Sarah.

We also want to be sure to recognize our two All-NESCAC honorees, so we presented both Becca and Isabel with their All-NESCAC certificates for 1st team and 2nd Team respectively.  With the depth of talent in the NESCAC, it's a very high honor to be selected as one of the top players in the Conference.  Becca was also a member of the All-Sportsmanship Team for NESCAC, as voted on by her teammates.  Of the 763 student athletes named to the All-Academic Team, only 4 across all 11 institutions were named to ALL three teams:  All-Academic, All-NESCAC, and All-Sportsmanship, and Becca was one of those 4!

In addition, this year, ALL FOUR seniors were honored by the NEWVA (New England Women's Volleyball Association) by being asked to take part in the Senior Classic.  This is an event that brings the top seniors in New England together for some fun skill competitions and then they play a final match.  This event happens at a tough time for us with our beak schedule, and finals, and the distance we have to travel just to get there, so unfortunately, they were unable to go, but it was a great honor that all four were selected for this.

It was a great season overall, despite the fact it didn't quite finish the way we were hoping, but we have lots of things to work on in the off season to prepare for next year.  It's like we say after every loss, as long as we learn something from this experience that will make us better in the future, it's all OK.  I'm looking forward to doing some fun things with the team in the off season like skating, golfing, paddle tennis or squash, and who knows what else.  I've already gone to an a capella concert by Gigi's group (fantastic), and hopefully I'll get to more of other people's events, too.  Happy Holidays to everyone, and here's to a great New Year!!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Several Post Season Honors for Becca and Isabel

Raffel, Sessions Earn All-NESCAC Volleyball Accolades

(L-R): Becca Raffel and Isabel Sessions
(L-R): Becca Raffel and Isabel Sessions
Two Middlebury College volleyball players were honored when the league announced its All-NESCAC recipients. Senior Becca Raffel (Palo Alto, Calif.) was named to the conference's first team for the third-straight season, while junior Isabel Sessions (Chicago, Ill.) picked up her second-consecutive spot on the second team. The duo helped guide the Panthers to a 16-9 record in 2017.
Becca finished 4th in the NESCAC in kills/set, and Isabel finished 6th in kills/set and 5th in hitting % (the top OH)!  Huge congrats to them for these nice honors, especially in a Conference as deep with talent as the NESCAC, these are very nice honors. (NOTE:  I wrote this short paragraph.  Everything else in this entry was all from our SID Office.)

Raffel, Sessions Named AVCA All-Region

(L-R): Becca Raffel and Isabel Sessions
(L-R): Becca Raffel and Isabel Sessions
Two members of the Middlebury College volleyball team were honored when the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) handed out postseason honors. Senior Becca Raffel (Palo Alto, Calif.) was a first-team All-Northeast Region selection for the third-consecutive year, while junior Isabel Sessions (Chicago, Ill.) was an honorable mention selection. The duo helped guide the Panthers to a 16-9 record in 2017.
Raffel is a three-time First-Team All-NESCAC selection and the 2014 NESCAC Co-Rookie of the Year. The outside hitter ranked second in the league in kills (317) and fourth in kills per set (3.34), while hitting .238. She recorded a double-digit kill total in 20 matches this fall, including a season-best 21 against Wesleyan. Raffel played in all 25 matches with 95 sets played this season. The senior also posted career-best totals of 290 digs and 3.05 digs per set, tallying 14 double-doubles to go along with 26 service aces and 18 total blocks. She became just the fifth player in the program's history to eclipse the 1,000-kill plateau, finishing her four years with 1,163 kills. She concludes her career second all-time in the Panther record books with 3.29 kills per set and fifth in kills.
Sessions picks up her first all-region honor after collecting her second-straight spot on the All-NESCAC second team. She was second on the team and sixth in the league with 3.17 kills per set. A member of the NEWVA All-Rookie team in 2015, Sessions recorded 10 or more kills in 16 matches this season. During her last five matches of 2017, she averaged over 16 kills per match, including a career-best 23 kills in a five-set contest at Williams in the regular-season finale. For the season, Sessions led the Panthers and ranked fifth in the NESCAC with a .299 hitting percentage including two matches with a .667 or better mark. She enters her senior year with career totals of 802 kills and 2.96 kills per set.

Raffel Named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team

Raffel Named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team 
Middlebury College volleyball player Becca Raffel (Palo Alto, Calif.) has been named a College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) District I First-Team Academic All-District selection. The senior outside hitter helped the Panthers to a 16-9 record this season.
Raffel is an economics major at Middlebury, owning a 3.86 grade point average. She is a three-time American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) First-Team All-Northeast Region selection and a three-time First-Team All-NESCAC selection as well as the 2014 NESCAC Co-Rookie of the Year. 
The Panther will now be placed on a national ballot with the Academic All-American team slated to be released on December 13.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Season Ends in NESCAC Quarterfinals

We entered the NESCAC Tournament with hopes of being the first 6th seed team to win a Championship, and in the first two sets against Bowdoin Friday night, we looked like we just might be primed to do it.  We'd had a disappointing final weekend where we lost to both Hamilton and Williams in 5 sets, but after a good week of practice, we were ready for NESCAC Championship action!

We started strongly, going up by as many as 6 at 17-11, but a late surge by Bowdoin reminded us that no one would lay down at tournament time as they narrowed the lead to 3 at 23-20, but we traded points to close out the set 25-22.  The second set was more of the same, with us leading by a few points, up 6 again with a 17-11 lead again mid way through the set, but we maintained a 3-4 point lead right up to the finish for a second set win of 25-18.

The third set started out somewhat the same, trading points and small runs for an 8-8 tie before a surge by Bowdoin put them up 17-11 this time.  Their lead grew to 13-24 before we mounted a final push, scoring five straight points, but eventually fell 18-25.  We thought the late surge by us would give us some momentum heading into the 4th set, still leading 2-1 in sets for the match.  The fourth set would be one of strings of points by both teams.  We went up early 5-1, then they came back to go up 11-7.  We were back and forth pretty much the whole time after that, with multiple ties and then small surges by both teams.  Tied at 21-21, we scored three straight points to go up 24-21.  Despite sitting on three match points, we couldn't convert them for the win.  We traded points one more time for a 25-25 tie, before their right side scored the final two points to force a 5th and deciding set.

The fifth set was a battle, but three separate 3 point strings by Bowdoin seemed to put the match out of reach for us.  Tied at 3-3, they scored 3 straight to go up 6-3, and again to go up 9-4, and finally when we trailed 10-12, they scored the final three to take the match.  It was a disappointing loss for sure, and this one will hurt for a while, I'm afraid.  For the seniors, it's not the way any of us wanted their careers to end, but we kept fighting to the end.  For the rest of us, we'll try to learn from this as we always do, and move forward for next year.

For our four seniors, they've given so much to our Program over their careers.  They've been NESCAC Champs and regionally ranked almost every year.  They were 64-27 for their careers, and ALL four were selected for the Senior Classic by the New England Volleyball Coaches.  (We'll do a separate blog entry for that, but that's a very nice honor.)  It's a tribute to them as players and to the Program and speaks volumes about what those seniors contributed over their careers to have all been honored!  Congrats Becca, Emily, Alice and Eliana!!  We will certainly miss you four next year!!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Tough Final Regular Season Conference Weekend

Our final Conference weekend of the regular season was also Homecoming here at MIDD, so we had a special visitor see us off as we left for Hamilton--THANKS GABI!!  The last time we traveled to Hamilton, we ran into extreme traffic delays due to the Interstate being shut down, and didn't arrive until 9pm for our 8pm match.  This time we arrived in plenty of time, and even saw several students traveling around campus in Halloween costumes already. 

We started strong, jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first set, but after that ended up with 6 different tie scores, the final one being 20-20 when they scored 5 unanswered points to end the set.  We again got off to a big lead in the 2nd set, posting scores of 11-3, and 18-12, but again they fought back to 22-20, but this time we closed it out 25-22.  The 3rd set was a back and forth affair, with us getting down a few points early, only to go up by a few points, and finished up closing out a close set with the 25-22 win.  The 4th set they pretty much dominated from start to finish as we really couldn't get anything going.  Unfortunately, our woes continued into the start of the 5th set as we fell behind 0-6. We did fight back to within 3 at 9-12, but couldn't pull out of that big of a hole and dropped a tough 5 setter to Hamilton.

We spent the night in Utica, NY and made the trip to Williamstown the next morning.  It was a gorgeous weekend, and we arrived in time to walk the little street there to stretch our legs, and get a coffee, or whatever before heading to the gym to prepare.  They were celebrating a DIG PINK event, which was very nice.  They had even bought our whole team pink shirts to wear for warm-ups, which again was very nice of them.  The gym was decked out in pink balloons, pink floor tape, and all the pink warm up shirts, so it was a festive environment. 

Our match with Williams was a bit of a roller coaster, as both teams had spells of great volleyball, and spells of not really putting it together.  We traded sets back and forth, with Williams taking a close first set 25-21.  Despite being down big most of the set, we fought back to make it a game.  With the score at 13-20, we scored 8 of 9 points to tie it at 21-21, before their final surge won them the set.  The second set, we ran away with it from start to finish, tying the match at 1-1 on a 25-11 set score.  The 3rd set we built a slow lead of 19-15 before they had a run of 8 unanswered points to take a lasting lead 23-19, and finished out the set 25-21.  We fought back in the 4th set, trading points for most of the set.  With a slim lead of 17-15, we out-scored them 8-1 to tie it up and force a deciding 5th set!

Similarly to the night before, however, we got off to a slow start in the 5th, getting behind 1-5 right off the bat.  We narrowed the lead to 1 at 7-8 before another three point surge by them put them up 11-8, and they finished out the win 15-10.  It was a disappointing weekend for sure, but we'll have a week to prepare for the NESCAC Tournament, which could be as wide open as ever this year, so we'll see what we can do here in the post season!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

MIDD Gets Two Big Wins at New England Challenge

After a tough Conference Weekend two weeks ago where we lost to both Tufts and Bowdoin, we rebounded well to take two wins from Regionally ranked foes Babson and Springfield this past weekend!  We ended up dropping our final match of the weekend to MIT, who's currently ranked #15 Nationally, but we felt good about our level of play over the course of the weekend.  Isabel was named to the All-Tournament team for her efforts, totaling  34 kills and hitting .245 against 3 ranked teams, so great job, Isabel!! 

In my opinion, we started out slowly, despite the win against Babson, but we kept upping our game over the weekend, and had possibly our best overall performance really, against MIT.  Babson was very back and forth pretty much the whole first half of both of the first two sets, but we pulled ahead on late runs both times for a 2-0 lead heading into the 3rd set.  Babson lead most of the 3rd set until we tied it at 17-17 and traded points until a service ace gave us match point, followed by a service error, which tied it at 24-24, and then two straight kills by Babson extended the match.  The fourth set we got behind again early and tied it at 17-17 again, only to go down 21-23 before making a final push to tie it up at 23-23, and then two errors by Babson closed out the set and match win! Afterward, we went out for a sit-down dinner, which was a nice change from our weekend picnics!  Chellsa's dad brought some yummy and colorful macaroons, too!

On Saturday morning, we stopped for our favorite pre-game Dunks fix before heading to the gym for a full day of volleyball. 

After a back and forth start that saw us tied 8-8, Springfield jumped out to a 15-8 lead, and looked like they might run away with the first set.  We fought back with a 5-0 run of our own to close the lead to 23-20 before they closed it out 25-20.  We were down early in the 2nd agin, and trailed by at least one until a 16-16 tie mid way through the 2nd set.  We got behind again 21-19 but rallied to tie it and finished it in extra points, winning 27-25.  The third and fourth sets were back and forth again, but with us holding the edge most of the time by 1-6 points and closed out both sets for a straight set win after dropping that first one.

There was a nice break between matches on Saturday so everyone could get food and rest between matches, which was nice also.  The final match of the weekend we were up in the old gym at Williams, but it was much quieter with only one match going on, and we could at least hear each other talk on the court, which was a nice change from the very loud main gym with two matches going on side by side. 

The first two sets were very close until the mid-way point when MIT started to pull away a bit, but we were hanging in there and serving tough and receiving well, and getting some offense going, which was great.  In the 3rd set, we were behind early until we tied it up at 7-7 and never looked back, taking leads of 12-7, and 18-11 for a 25-15 finish in set 3.  The final set was again back and forth until about 16-17 and they went on a couple of runs to finish out the 4th set and match 25-18.  Overall, we blocked pretty well against a big MIT team, with Alice, Sarah and Eliana all having 4 Block Assists.  Although our team hitting % was lower than our average, Alice hit .500, Becca hit .250, and Isabel hit .229, so those were some good stats also.  Shea had a great weekend serving a total of 6 service aces in the MIT match alone, and had 12 total on the weekend! 

Our weekend concluded with a yummy Thai takeout dinner outside of the gym, which we all enjoyed!  We do love our food.  Fall Break is Monday and Tuesday this week, hopefully giving us a nice break from mid-terms as we prepare for our final NESCAC weekend facing Hamilton and Williams.  LETS GO MIDD!!!