Sunday, September 13, 2009

Opening Weekend a Success. Jane named All-Tournament

After a shortened preseason, we may not have been quite as prepared as we sometimes are, but we at least got to take most of our freshmen with us! Usually, this first tournament at Potsdam has fallen on the weekend before classes started, and we've had to leave our first-years behind to register for classes. This time, fortunately, most of them came with us for what turned out to be a pretty successful opening weekend, despite some early season injuries and set-backs.

In pool-play on Friday night, the first team we met turned out to be our toughest competition all weekend. We were very well-matched with Clarkson, I think, but they were a little more game-ready. We looked like we were still figuring out who was playing what position the first game as they rolled over us easily 8-25. That wasn't pretty, but we bounced right back in game two with a convincing 25-16 win behind some almost flawless hitting (we only had one hitting error in game two!)

From there on out it was nip and tuck. Our starting line-up included three freshmen (Caitlin and Maddie sharing the RH spot, and Sarah playing OH front row) Sophomore (Caroline), who'd only recently returned to practice from a foot injury over the summer and was restricted to back-row play only played back row for Sarah. In addition to that, Reisa was kept out with a tight leg muscle that we didn't want to worsen, and Julia had to stay behind for both a lab that she couldn't miss, and a bad stomach bug. Elissa, Jane, Lauren, Nat and Whit all pretty much picked up where they left off last year, which was great to see.

After losing game three 25-27, we squeaked out the 4th to force a deciding 5th game. We had some incredible performances offensively with Jane and Sarah both lighting it up with 17 and 14 kills respectively. Elissa also had a great first match with 6 kills and only one error on 18 swings, and solid blocking. Whit had an uncharacteristic 4 errors with 8 kills on 20 swings, but also had a solid blocking night. Overall, we didn't block their OH's as well as we would have liked. Our defense took a little more time adjusting to read the hitters than we'll want to see later, and our serving errors were plenty. With Julia at home, that left Maddie playing in an unfamiliar position at RH. All things considered, we felt pretty good about our first match.

The second match that night was a totally different story, all the way around. Morrisville didn't pose much of a threat. Everyone got to play, and hopefully worked out those first-game jitters. Once again, Jane led our offense with another 17 kills, hitting .520. She also tied for the most service aces with 3, and led the team in digs as well. Jane would go on to be named to the All-Tournament Team after Saturday's play.

Losing to Clarkson put us in the Silver Bracket playing the other two teams that got second in their respective pools. SUNY-Oswego, and SUNY-Utica didn't prove to be much competition, but gave us some great opportunities to really focus on what we were doing. They both lacked size, in general, and our hitters were able to swing away. We started to really dial in our passing, which was nice to see, and our serving picked up as well. Once again, everyone played, and contributed to our relatively easy wins. It's always nice to get a few wins under your belt, especially before heading into our Conference weekends, which should all be pretty tough competition.

We should be well-tested before then, however, with St. Mikes and Union coming up, and then the Amherst Classic the following weekend before our first official NESCAC competition. I think that once we get everyone healthy, we could be a very tough team, but we have some work to do to get where we want to be! Some fun preseason pictures should be coming before too long.

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