Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Monday Yoga with Kathryn

After our weekend that had us playing at home on Friday night in a very late match, and then traveling Saturday to play in two matches, we decided that Monday should be a recuperation day of sorts.  The next three weeks in a row, we have mid-week matches, and over half the team has had some sort of a cold, which fortunately only saw us lose one player to a fever, but Charlotte missed three days of practice last week.  All of this added up to us deciding to have a good health day, and so we met for Yoga instead of practice, and then were in and out in an hour.

Kathryn is an excellent (and certified) Yoga Instructor, so we're very lucky to have her as our leader.  She led our class in the gym, and it was thoroughly enjoyed by all of us.  Here are some pictures of us holding poses, and Kathryn, our fearless leader of course in style for the Blog--cover photo!!  :)

Monday, September 29, 2014

MIDD Goes 2-1 for the Weekend

Friday night we suffered our first NESCAC loss to Hamilton.  While it was a very frustrating loss, we recognize that we are close to being the team we want to be.  The first two sets were both decided by 2 points, and unfortunately, we just couldn't come up with the plays when we needed them.  We then crushed them in set 3 before jumping out to a reasonable lead in the fourth, and were hoping to force a 5th set.  That wasn't to be, due to an 11 point run by Hamilton to seal our fate.  I give them the credit, as they out-played us, but we'd love to have that match over again, similar to our Union match.  That's not the way sports works, but as long as we learn from these losses, and keep moving forward, I'm confident we'll be a better team in the end because of it!

Saturday, we left early for Skidmore, just to try to avoid any early Leaf Peeper traffic on a gorgeous Saturday morning.  It's hard to believe how much some of the trees are changing already.  That's always the indicator of where we are in the season...  Hamilton had been late the night before, and we thought there might be construction traffic also, but we sailed right through, and thus arrived even earlier.  The extra time allowed us to sit outside and have a team meeting in the sunshine, and have some snacks etc. before warming up.

We played St. John Fisher first, and handled them fairly easily.  We're still not hitting a high enough percentage for us to be as good as we can be, but the Kolodka sisters, and Piper paced our offense with 9,9, and 7 kills respectively.  Those three hit well over .200 which is our team goal, but with everyone all together, our hitting % was only .173, so we'll keep working on that.  Becca made her first real appearance after playing the final few points in the last set against Hamilton, so that was good to see!

After pulling out to a small lead in the first set of 13-9, and then 16-11, they fought back into the set and closed it to 21-20.  While this was not what we wanted, the good news was that once up 23-21, we finished the set by scoring the last two points for the win.  The second set was also tied mid way through at 16-16, but again we scored the last three points of the match to win 25-19, and then hit stride and finished the match with a 25-15 score in the third set.

Skidmore was our second match of the day, and we had another convincing win, although the second set was a nail biter!  The good news was that after being close the whole way, and having 11 tie scores, we pulled out the final two points, and the last one a convincing ace by Hannah to seal the deal.  The third set we pulled out to an early lead and never looked back.  After the disappointing loss on Friday, the team bounced back and played well to win both in straight sets on Saturday.  Hannah and Emily were named to the All-Tournament Team for their efforts, so congrats to both of them!  Well done!

We have all week to prepare for Amherst and Williams, so that should be good.  Those will be big Conference games, as always!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall Harvest

What a great Fall Harvest it's been from my garden!   I didn't get a good crop of tomatoes, but it's been producing a lot of other great veggies, which has been really fun.  We escaped the early frost that hit parts of the county last week, but it made me nervous, so we picked a lot this past weekend, and here's a picture of our bounty.  We still have a lot more green beans, a couple of pie pumpkins, a couple more small heads of cabbage, lots of Kale, Basil, Carrots, Leeks, and Beets, and quite a few more Brussel Sprouts.  The squash is basically done, but we do still have some asparagus, and some rhubarb, although both are usually best in early Spring.

The other fun thing that we discovered the other day was this tiny egg!  We had four new baby chicks in the Spring, but only two of them survived the summer. Spring chicks usually start laying anytime late Sept. or early October, and this little baby egg has to be from one of them.  So cute!



Monday, September 22, 2014

MIDD Wins Opening NESCAC Match of the Season


Bates came to town on Saturday afternoon, after having played at Hamilton on Friday night.  They lost a tough one to Hamilton in very close sets, but wouldn't be quite as close to us on Saturday afternoon.  We played possibly our best match of this young season so far, and were certainly our most consistent.  We hit right at .200 as a team for the match, and had a season-high 16 Block Assists!  We also did not have any major runs against us, which was good, and we did manage a few of our own runs, which is always nice.  Hannah had a career high 7 service aces, while Lizzy had 3 of her own, followed by Emily with 2 aces.

The Kolodka sisters paced our offense as the only two with double digit kills at 10 apiece.  Alice chipped in with 7, while Piper had 4.  Mel had 7 block assists and Olivia had 5 in our blocking spree of 16 BA!!  Jen and Katie were our serving specialists, and Gabi made the most of a quick trip through the front row scoring one kill, and no errors on one swing in the second set.

We started off the first set strongly, jumping out to a lead early on, but Bates fought back to within a pair, until we pulled away with a flourish, taking a 19-11 lead that wouldn't get any closer as we won 25-15 in the first set.

The second set was much of the same as we again got off to a good start, and again they fought back to a 10-6 score before we ran a string of 10 straight points to go up 20-6.  They wouldn't go down easily, though, as they fought back scoring points 2-1 against us before we finally won 25-16.

The third set was a continuation of the first two, as we held the lead the whole time, but couldn't quite pull away as decisively as we had in the first two sets, but easily came away with our first NESCAC win in straight sets to go 1-0 in Conference.  Our next Conference match is Friday night against Hamilton, here at home again!

We had many fans, and lots of family, which was great.  We even had the Panther in the house!!  A trio of the Mischords got us started off with an excellent rendition of the National Anthem, and then after the match we had wild cupcakes from Jen's parents for her 18th Birthday.  I think there may have been a barbie (or a polly pocket?) in that giant blue ball of icing, but I'll have to check on that with Jen at practice.  I'm sure there's a good story behind that...

Friday, September 19, 2014

Birthday Time!!

We had two birthdays this week, at both ends of the spectrum.  Piper turned 22 on Wednesday, while Jen turns 18 on Friday.  Fun times.  Happy birthday, guys!!  We celebrated with a cake after practice, with Kate there to help us celebrate. 

MIDD Loses Close One in Home Opener

Union was a very tough opponent on Tuesday night in our opening home match of the 2014 season.  A year ago we had a very similar match, however, it's just that we ended with a win then, so it felt different.  The match was a roller coaster in many ways.  We dug ourselves huge holes, then fought back to tie the score in at least two of the sets, but just couldn't quite pull out the game winning points.  The game we won, we won by a convincing 7 points, and each game we lost, we lost by two points.  Very frustrating, but we also showed a lot of grit to fight back after 8+ point deficits, so that was a positive for the night. 

Alice and Olivia set the tone with 16, and 15 kills apiece, and Alice and Mel led the way with hitter percentages of .302, and .368 respectively.  We had great offensive balance with Piper having 9 kills, and Mel and Emily both adding 8.  Hannah did a great job spreading out the offense and was second in digs behind libero Lizzy for a balanced game.  Eliana saw her first action of the season and scored her first of many huge blocks to come!

We are actually starting to put some things together, so we're looking forward to steady progression throughout the season.  That's the goal.  Our Southern Vermont match was cancelled last night due to lack of healthy bodies for the opponent, so now we're looking forward to our first NESCAC match against Bates tomorrow night here at home!  GO MIDD!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Season Opens with Tournament in Boston

We were ready to put on the uniforms and get down to business, and that's exactly what we did this past weekend at the UMass Boston Tournament.  We played four matches in two days, which is the most we'll play in one weekend all season.  Our trip started off with small group discussions on the bus orchestrated by the captains, which is a new tradition starting this year to help us both be connected, and keep connected to each other.  We still watched a movie, and people slept, and listened to their personal music, but we had our "together time" to connect, share, and listen to each other, which I think will be a special new tradition with fun topics to be revealed by the captains at the start of each road trip.

Our first match was against Whitman College, from Walla Walla, Washington.  We knew nothing other than what their stats told us, but for our first match of the season, we were much more concerned with ourselves than our opponent anyway.  I guess one way to describe it was a typical first match?!  We played them very tough, with all sets other than the first being decided by 4 or fewer points, both ways.  We got off to a shaky start losing the first set 25-15, but bounced right back to compete for the second set 21-25, and won the third by the same score.  Despite the fact that we lost the fourth set, and thus the match, we were actually doing a lot of good things, I thought.  Our top three hitters (our veterans, Olivia, Piper and Melanie) combined for a hitting % of .180, and Hannah averaged almost 10 Assists per game, and Lizzy  had 21 digs, which was one dig shy of the match high set by Whitman's libero.  We made too many errors, yes, but we did a lot of positive things as well, so we're building off of those successes.

The second match that night saw us beat a previously undefeated Western Connecticut team, so we all felt good about that.  This was a great match for us in some ways, as it saw us really fight, and pull together to scrap out a win in extra points in set 2, 29-27.  For this early in the season, and with the new faces on the court, I thought this was a wonderful victory and really helped set the tone for what we want to accomplish this year with our heart and hustle.

We had so many fans comprised of current parents (Katie, Piper, Olivia and Emily, Eliana, Alice, Lizzy, and Jen), Hannah's grandparents, recent alums and their families--namely the Barretts and the Andersons, and even not so recent alum families-- Kenney's, so thank you all for your wonderful support!!  And despite my better judgement, when the famous carmelitas were brought out between games because the team was starving (and also because they're just THAT good!), I wasn't sure it was a good idea, but I let it go.  Since we won, now I have to say, I guess it was indeed OK, and maybe a part of our togetherness and good vibes was brought on by those delicious, carmelitas made with love and Panther Pride?!  (To the team, don't count on me letting you eat those again before a match!)

The next morning, we had earned our trip to DD, so off we went for our traditional excursion on Saturday mornings.  We've collectively decided that we need to "earn" this privilege, which I thought we did based on the process of striving for our goals, namely--All Out, All Game, All Season!!  I might add that I started off with decaf, just to make sure I didn't have extra jitters as I've mistakenly done before...

Our morning then got going against the host school, UMass Boston.  Although we hung right in there for the first game, falling 22-25, we were a bit outmatched the rest of the match.  The good news for us was that what we did well at times, we did pretty well, and what we needed to work on was pretty defined, so next time we'll be ready!  After that first game, last season's NCAA Regional Champs handed us our first straight set loss 18-25, and 14-25.

There was no rest for the weary, as we simply moved courts, stuffed some quick bites into our mouths, and started warming up again for our final match of the weekend.  This time we played Salisbury, who, like Whitman, was another out of region opponent.  We felt good going in as we thought their style of play was very similar to ours.  I felt from watching them briefly that we would be well matched against them.  Other than the fact that we gave up too many runs without our own run to counter, we actually played them fairly tough, despite the set scores.  I realize that I'm spinning this in a positive light, but I also really believe that we did a lot of good things, so we're feeling good about what we have to build on in practice moving forward. 

For the ride home, we had various snacks from parents, and adorable Goody Bags from the Kolodkas!!  So nice!  We also had the famous apples and special dip from the Anderson's!  So, with treats in hand, we got on board, headed to the nearest Chipotle Restaurant that Rueann (our fearless bus driver) had found for us, and headed home.  We'll get another chance to put it all together tomorrow night when we have our Home Opener against Union College.  Stay tuned.  And, Meg has started a Facebook page for us, so if you want to follow us on Facebook, I think this may be the link?  MCVB on Facebook