Conference Weekends are tough, no matter how you slice it, but we felt good going into our second weekend. We were to play the home team, Conn. on Friday night in the early match, and then have until Saturday afternoon at 1:30 before we played Wesleyan, so it was at least a good schedule. After our 5 hour bus ride down to Conn, we got off the bus and walked around briefly to get some fresh air. The warm, humid air was a nice greeting as the air had already started to cool off at home with threats of frost approaching.
Apparently, after we warmed up, we seemed to have left our game still on the bus, or somewhere other than the gym. Conn dominated the play from the very start. We knew they would be a tough serving team, but our serve receive didn't hold up that well, and our offense got off to a rocky start as we got blocked often early. We managed to fight back into the game to make it appear respectable, but we were behind from the very start, and always trying to get back into it. We were getting blocked, losing our hitters, and making errors. It was incredibly frustrating for all of us, our fans included (thanks parents!). The second game was worse than the first, and the third actually started out like maybe we'd found a groove, but it didn't last, and even though we hung in there for most of the third, they were up 20-18 and then scored two points on one of their servers after we'd both been siding out on the first serve for several rotations. That put them up 22-18, and we finished with a 25-21, 25-15, 25-20 loss in three--our first straight-set loss of the season!
At least the sun came up the next day! After sleeping in, and having a leisurely breakfast at our nice hotel, we showed up at the gym early to watch some of the early matches. We played Wesleyan at 1:30, and it was a typical Conference show-down between two evenly matched teams. We battled Wes to a 1-2 game deficit, only losing our two games by 2 pts. each, before taking the 4th game more decisively and headed into our 4th 5 game match of the season (but not having won one yet!?) This was a great test for our young team. Our leadership prevailed, and we put away our first 5th game win of the season, and now there's no looking back! Behind our main offensive weapons, Jane, Caroline and Julia, who combined for 23, 19, and 11 kills respectively, we finally felt like our offense started to rev up. I believe, however, that is was our blocking that may have turned the tide for us. We've not been that great of a blocking team all season, unfortunately, but in that match, we came up with 3 solo's, and 8 block assists. Elissa had a very good blocking game, but it was Whit who solo stuffed their middle late in the 5th game to really give us a well-timed boost. That may have put the score at 13-9 before we finally won it 15-12. Volleyball is such a game of momentum, and at that point in the 5th, which had been tight the whole way, it gave us a momentum spike that helped push us over the hump, not to mention that Caroline had 4 kills alone in the short 5th game.
Reisa had a great serving night, serving more times than anyone else. Even without any aces, she was keeping her serve in and in good places, and we were scoring. Julia and Lauren came up with some tough serving stretches too, adding 3, and 2 aces to go with their number of serves. Lauren hung tough with some minor ailments not detering her at all from one of her best defensive matches with 14 digs to go along with her 52 assists.
It was a very interesting weekend down at Conn as everyone split except for Hamilton. Conn, Wes, Williams and Midd all split with each other with one loss and one win. It seems to be shaping up to be a typical NESCAC year with everyone beating everyone else which could make the final standings very interesting. Next weekend will be big for us as we play 3 more NESCAC teams, leaving only three to play before the tournament. We have the week to prepare, and no classes on Monday and Tuesday, so hopefully we'll be rested and ready for some Homecoming Fun next weekend!