Thursday, October 12, 2017

MCVB Splits NESCAC Home Weekend; Wins Final Home Match

We celebrated our Parent's weekend and Senior Day on our last home weekend when we played Conn and Wesleyan on Oct. 6-7.  Conn did not pose a serious threat behind their own errors, and a strong outing for us as we hit .241 and registered 18 block assists on the night, in addition to holding them to a -.097 hitting percentage.  We cruised to 25-13, 25-13, and 25-10 set scores and were primed heading into Saturday's match up with Wesleyan, since we were both as yet undefeated in NESCAC.

We started very strong against Wesleyan, taking the first set 25-19 behind a late surge.  We held a tight lead of 21-19 before scoring the final four points for the 25-19 first set win.  The second set we jumped out early to a 8-4 lead, and then surged ahead by scoring 9 unanswered points for a 17-4 lead that finally resulted in a 25-11 second set win.  They seemed out of sync, and our offense was firing on all cylinders.  They changed about everything they could, and by the time the 3rd set rolled around, they were running a 6-2 and had found some of their potent offense that they hadn't displayed in the first two sets.  That third set was a back and forth set, and tied at 14-14 they had a couple of late runs to go up 17-14, and 21-15 before closing out the 3rd set 25-19. 

The fourth set saw them take an early lead and then go up 9-4 before we closed it to narrow margin of 11-9.  We kept hanging in there, but trailed by 2-3 points until their final surge put them up 25-19, forcing a 5th set.  The fifth set saw us once again get behind early 1-6, and 6-10 before they got to 6 match points, up 14-8.  An error by them narrowed the gap to 5 points and brought Isabel into the game and Becca back to the service line, where she stayed until we'd tied it up at 14-14!  We showed a lot of fight, and poise and composure in that comeback, but couldn't quite finish it out and lost the final two points for our first Conference loss.  It was a rough one, that's for sure.

It was parent's weekend, however, so we celebrated as we have for years now at American Flatbread in the Marbleworks plaza.  Our student assistant coach, Jack English informed me that he'd been at that event for 5 straight years, four of them as the younger brother of Melanie '17, and now his first as a MIDD student and officially with the Team.  It was a fun night and the senior parents gave the girls very cute pillows to commemorate their MCVB time!

Wednesday night we were back on the court facing Skidmore for our final home match of the regular season and we closed out that match in three straight sets.  Isabel led the hitting on the night with 16 kills, no errors for a .696 hitting %, followed by Becca with 15 kills and a .323 hitting %.  Chellsa was back in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 16th, so that was good to see.  Emma has been doing such a great job running the offense that she currently sits at 2nd in the Conference in assists/set, which is no easy feat, so congrats to Emma!!

We're back on the road now for the final three weeks of the regular season heading to Boston and then Maine this weekend to play both Tufts and Bowdoin, and picking up another non-Conference match at Bowdoin against U-Maine Presque-Isle.  Heading into the toughest stretch of our season, we're excited to be playing some of the best teams in New England the next few weeks (both in NESCAC and in the NEWMAC), preparing us for the always tough NESCAC Championships in early November.  LETS GO MIDD!!!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday Alternative Workouts

Many of our weekends are long and involve travel and multiple matches.  In an effort to stay fresh, both mentally and physically, we often try to do something different on our Monday workouts.

So far this year, we've gone in the pool for some light calisthenics, and some fun a week or so ago.  More recently, we did team yoga with Prem!  He's a master of all things yoga, and specializes with working with teams and working specifically where athletes need it, finishing up with some meditation work.

We're really working hard on being the best we can be, mentally, physically and together as a team.  It's fun seeing the freshmen's personalities start to emerge, and we're looking forward to working together as a team time and enjoying the season as long as possible.

We're striving for balance in our season of staying in top physical shape, while also being mindful of our bodies and taking care of ourselves to stay in top mental shape as well.  Oh, and of course, keeping on top of all the academic work goes without saying, but we mention it because at the end of the day, everyone is here for the education, and we want to be a top academic team as well...namaste!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Emily and Becca Pass Career Milestones

Two of our seniors recently passed major career milestones, which is always exciting!  Emily surpassed the 1000 dig mark a week ago down at the Ramapo Invitational, and Becca passed the 1000 career kill mark during our first set against Bates on Friday night.

Both are major milestones for a career--Emily's puts her near the top ten in Program History, and she'll definitely finish the season easily in the top 10 for career digs.  Becca's weekend puts her in 5th all time for career kills, and she'll climb that list throughout the rest of the season as well.  Becca was also named the NESCAC Player of the Week before reaching this milestone based on her performance the week before.  Congrats to both of them for these wonderful achievements!

MIDD Sweeps First Home NESCAC Weekend (on Brian's Birthday!)

Our first of two home NESCAC weekends got off to a great start on Friday night beating a very tough Bates team in 4 sets.  Early in the first set, Becca eclipsed the 1000 Career Kill mark to become only the 5th player in Program history to do so, which prompted a quick "Becca" chant from the crowd after it was announced between sets!  And, it was Brian's birthday, so we got to celebrate after our win with cake, too.

On the evening, we needed to come from behind in every set to win, and we showed a lot of composure in doing so.  In the first set we got behind early 4-8, but then tied it up at 14-14.  We then took a small lead, and then traded points before going up for good at 22-21 and finished out the first set 25-23.

The second set was back and forth again through 9-9, but then they took a 10-15 lead which they held until we were able to tie it at 19-19 and held that lead for a 25-22 second set win.  The third set was more of the same.  They scored the first 4 points, and we scored the next 5.  After trading points for most of the rest of the set with only small runs by either team, they went ahead for good at 19-20 and closed out the 3rd set 21-15.  The fourth set had 12 tied scores with neither team really able to pull away from the other.  Tied at 20-20, we took our final lead that we wouldn't let go of 21-20 on a kill by Alice, followed by a service ace from Becca and we went on to win the match 25-22.

It was a great match, and we showed a lot of poise and composure in competing, and we talked about this after the Amherst match this year also--this is NESCAC!  There are going to be a lot of matches like that, and we need to embrace the challenge and enjoy it!  We are tracking our team goals each game, and we're doing a great job of hitting these goals.  We keep moving forward and striving for these goals, and if we fall short of one, we just keep pushing for the next one, and having fun in the meantime.

Saturday proved to be a different story.  Colby came out and fought hard early in the match for a 7-7 tie, but then we pulled ahead 20-10, to finish out the set 25-13.  Each of the three sets had exactly the same score, with a similar story.  Eliana finished with a .647 hitting % on 11 kills from 17 sets, and Becca hit a .458 with 11 kills, no errors on 24 swings.  Isabel and Sarah both hit .333 with 8 and 7 kills respectively.  Eliana and Sarah both had 4 blocks, with Jaime and Emma both recording 2.  Emma continues to run the offense, and currently sits at 2nd in the Conference with 10.38 assists/set.  It was a balanced afternoon with everyone seeing playing time and contributing to the win!

With the latest Conference stats being posted, Sarah and Eliana sit 2nd and 4th in hitting %, Emma is 2nd in assists/set, and Becca and Isabel are 2nd and 5th in kills/set.  We have a very tough October coming up, and we're excited to start it at home again this weekend when we play both Conn and Wesleyan.  We'll celebrate Senior night on Saturday afternoon when we play Wesleyan since our last home regular season match will be the following wednesday.  In the words of Gabi..."Let's GO!!"

Monday, September 25, 2017

MIDD Sweeps Ramapo Invitational

This year is the first time we've been the "lone" school in the NESCAC.  One weekend each season, we all play our travel partners, which meant we had a free weekend this year since we don't have a travel partner.  We decided to play in the Roadrunner Classic, hosted by Rampapo College, where we played three non-Conference opponents.  First up on Friday night was Farmingdale State, followed by both NYU and Ramapo on Saturday.

It was a hot weekend, but fortunately there was AC in the gym at Ramapo.  Friday night we got off to a great start against Farmingdale, dominating the first set 25-11, hitting .385.  The second set we still cruised to a 25-18 win despite hitting under .200.  We may have let our focus slip away in the third set, and then to Farmingdale's credit, they responded with some renewed energy of their own, and won the 3rd set 25-23.  After regrouping, we managed to end the match 25-20, again raising our hitting % back up to .258 for the win.

We often play late on Friday nights, mostly to reduce missed class time, but this time we played at 5pm, which allowed us to actually go out and eat at a restaurant afterward, which was great.  Saturday was Sarah's birthday, and Sunday was Emma's birthday, so we celebrated with some flaming deserts offered by a parent, which was a very nice treat.  We had a wonderful showing of parents and family there this weekend with two alums (and siblings) in the house with Lauren and Olivia both there, and then at least one parent from half the team, which was really fun!  Sarah's dad was there as it was her 21st birthday, and Emma's mom made it for her birthday weekend also, along with parent(s) of Alice, Emily, Beth, Chellsa, and Gigi.   Emily's trainer was also there again to see her play, along with his adorable daughter who gave Emily the biggest hug before the match!!  Thank you for all of the support, parents and friends!

 There was also some dancing going on in the gym on Saturday morning, and I even caught some on film, but I won't post that here--whatever they're practicing for, it's looking good, guys!  :)

HOME opener is this Wednesday at 7pm when we host Colby-Sawyer College, followed by our first HOME Conference weekend on Friday and Saturday when we host Bates at 7pm Friday, and Colby at 2pm Saturday!!  LETS GO MCVB!!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

MCVB Sweeps First Conference Weekend

After a long, tough weekend without our full team, we were ready to start classes and have a week to prepare for our first Conference weekend.  Our schedule started off with Amherst on Friday night, followed by Trinity Saturday afternoon.  Pre season turned out to be perfect weather-wise with cooler temperatures and sunny days, but these past few days summer was back with hot, humid days.

Friday night we arrived at Amherst for our opening NESCAC match up, which was a hot evening, despite the open doors and evening hours.  It was a doozy, for sure.  We both battled the night away, into a 5th set finale which we pulled out in style, I think.  We lost the first set by 3 points, only to win the 2nd by 3 points.  The third set saw us get out to a bigger lead than either of the first two sets when we went up by as many as 5 or 6 points.  However, they battled back in the late 20's to take a lead and not give it up for the comeback (and go ahead) win in set 3.  Down 2 sets to 1, we battled back and forth in the 4th set, and then opened up a little lead and hung on to take that set 25-22 and forced a 5th set.

The fifth set was another back and forth battle.  We went ahead late and took a 12-9 lead, but they tied it up at 13-13, and went ahead 14-13 for their first and only match point.  Eliana tooled their block, and then Isabel rolled a nice off-speed shot down into the court, and then they had a hitting error to give us the final point of the match.

It was a crazy way to start the NESCAC, but probably appropriate also.  We expect the NESCAC to be very deep and competitive this year, as always, so we were really happy with the team's resilience and mental toughness to pull out a tight match like that, along with giving up leads and coming from behind.  All good stuff.

We spent the night in Springfield, MA (which had a Dunkin Donuts attached to our parking lot!) before heading to Trinity on Saturday.   We faced another tough Conference foe and battled back and forth before taking the first set 25-23.  In the second set Trinity came out strong and dug everything we seemed to be hitting at them, and blocked us pretty well, and won that set somewhat handily 25-19.  We battled right back in the next two sets to win convincingly with 25-19 and 25-18 scores to close out the match.

We're very happy with the play of everyone involved, and since this was our Rookie's first weekend of action, almost all of them found their way into the game and did a great job.  Jaime was starting at middle hitter, Rebecca came in to serve and play defense for Sarah, and Shea spelled Isabel for a bit, so it's really great to see the team coming together like this so early in the season.  We're excited about where we're going, and we have a week now with only non-Conference opponents before starting our Home Stretch at the end of the month.  We have a lot to work on and fine tune, of course, but it's great to see our resiliency and composure in tact this early!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Opening Weekend Split 2-2

Opening weekend of the 2017 Season started with a very long, but successful day!  Our first match was scheduled for 4pm, and our second one for 8pm, so we had time to get food in between, which was nice.  This was our longest weekend by far of the season with four matches and only 9 people since our freshmen were all on their respective Orientation Trips.  The first match of the day (not ours) was a 5 setter, so the whole schedule the rest of the day was behind.  We beat SUNY Oneonta 3-0, but still didn't get to start our Union match until almost 9:30 pm Friday night.  After winning the first two sets, we dropped the next two and ended up winning in the 5th set at almost 11:30 pm.  We like to get Dunkin Donuts coffee in the morning, but we may have needed it the next morning more than some mornings.  We did get to sleep in, though, so all in all, it wasn't all that bad since we didn't play until the 1pm match Saturday.

Here's the basic recap of the weekend:

SUNY Oneonta--we pretty much dominated the match, which was great for us in our season opener.  They had just come off a long match right before, but it was our first match of the season, so you never know.  We hit .400 for the game as a team, and Sarah had 10 kills on 11 swings for a .909 hitting %, which is ridiculous in college volleyball and they're not even that bad of a team (well done, Sarah!!); AND Chellsa attacked for 5 kills on 7 swings, which as a setter means she picked her spots very well indeed!  Becca hit .500 with a match high 14 kills on 22 swings.  Gig and Beth led the team in digs with 11 and 8 respectively, and thus it was a very good start to our season.

Union--what a match!  We won the first two sets, and although they were competitive, I was really hoping for our players that we were going to be able to close it out in three sets...not to be.  We narrowly lost the 3rd set 23-25 before dropping the 4th also 20-25.  However, we jumped out in the 5th to lead 4-1 and never looked back as we stayed at least 3 points ahead the rest of the way and closed it out 15-10 on a service ace by Becca, a kill by Isabel, and a couple of errors by them.  it was late, but a win makes it worth the late night in the gym!

The next day we slept in, ate breakfast and had our Dunks on our way back to the gym for our 2nd full day of volleyball with two more matches.  Most weekends will be 2 matches with a couple being 3 matches, but we won't play 4 matches in one weekend the rest of the season.  Here's day two's highlights:

Stevens Institute--Very competitive match, and we were the only team there that weekend that took a set from them.  They're very good, don't get me wrong, but we were right there with them the whole time.  We battled the first set to an extra points victory 26-24 before dropping our least contested set 15-25 in set two.  The third set was again a back and forth battle to extra points, this time tipping for the Ducks, unfortunately 24-26.  In the fourth set we would trade points, and then go behind by 3-4 points, and then come back to either tie it, or get to within one point, and then go behind again by a few points.  We were tied 8-8, close at 14-15, and then went down 16-20.  After that we fought back to a 21-22 score before dropping the final three points for the 21-25 loss.

By the final match against Brockport, I'm afraid we may have run out of steam a bit.  The team hung in there, and dropped the first set 20-25, but battled back to take a 23-21 lead in the second set before dropping the final 4 points to lose the set 23-25.  We controlled a competitive 3rd set 23-25, but led the entire way after getting out to a 3-0 lead, and never letting it go this time.  However, in the fourth set, we fell behind by quite a bit and fought back, but just couldn't quite muster the strength to push a 5th set.

Overall, I was very happy with our fight, our composure, and our play in general.  It was an exhausting weekend of volleyball with everyone on the bench playing in every match.  They all hung in there and kept a great attitude the whole time, which is a good foundation upon which to build.  Becca was awarded All-Tournament Team for the weekend, but everyone really contributed and everyone had moments of shining excellence over the weekend, which was really great to see.

We're excited about this year, and having our full team means that we have options in almost every position, which is great.  We have the week of practice to recover a bit, move forward with our conditioning and keep moving ahead with our skills, which is all exciting and fun!  This coming weekend will be our opening NESCAC weekend.  Let's GO MIDD!!