Sunday, September 12, 2010

Season Opens 3-1 at Endicott

After 9 straight days of practice, the 2010 team was ready to play someone else. This pre-season was a very competitive one due to the depth of talent on the team, which has been a lot of fun so far. Pictured her are our new "rookies" near one of the many rock outcroppings on the campus there. We entered the Endicott Tournament in a pool with the host Endicott, Eastern CT State U., and Emmanuel. After beating ECSU, losing to Endicott, and beating Emmanuel, we ended up second in our pool, and faced the second team in the other pool, which ended up being none other than our NESCAC foe, Bowdoin.

Let me start out by saying a few things about our trip. The Endicott campus is beautiful. The sand volleyball court right on the ocean caught all of our eyes, not to mention the "country-club" like campus. The beds were really comfortable at our Hotel, and we were treated to dinner ala Barrett with our favorite salads, sandwiches, and famous caramelitas! Stud continued her braiding expertise on Jane (and possibly others) to keep the hair looking good and out of the way! On the movie front, we watched Pirates of the Carribean:Curse of the Black Pearl on the way down. Despite watching a scary thriller in Shutter Island while we ate dinner on the way home, we ended the trip on a happy note with Finding Nemo, which ended as we pulled into the Field House. All in all it was a great weekend that saw almost everyone get on the court, even if it was briefly.

We started out with our veteran lineup from last year, and a couple of the seasoned sophomores saw early action with both Maddie and Stud coming off the bench to perform very well that first night. Julia played some great defense after not really playing much back row last year, and Caitlin's transition to Libero was seamless. The surprise move (only because we haven't let her play there yet in practice) was when we put freshman MJ (her new nickname because I was getting tongue tied with Meg and Megan) in her third position of the year at OH, and we found a great combination during our Endicott match. For the weekend, Meg and Courtney both played a little at right back, and Stud and Amy both spent some time at OH in different matches. Charlotte H. did a nice job serving tough in a couple of matches, and MJ played a little at MH, RH, and OH. Maddie was very consistent in the Middle in a couple of different matches, which gives us good depth at that position that we haven't had in recent years.

As for the game action, here goes: After handling what ECSU could give us pretty well, and with several different line-ups, we faced a different challenge in the host school. They were a very tall team, and we were getting blocked quite a bit, so we tried a bigger line-up ourselves, and it turned out to be a good one. With MJ playing front row, and Cordle playing back row in that OH position, we found quite a combination. MJ's power and blocking in the front and Cordle's defense and serve recieve in the back make for a very complete position. That, combined with our other hitting duos of Jane and Julia, and Whit and Elissa, provided us a pretty powerful front line at all times. Lauren continued to dish out the ball all around, and when our serve receive was on, it was fun to watch. For the first weekend, it looked pretty good, all things considered.

On Saturday, Emmanuel didn't trouble us too much, despite our serve recieve taking a leave of absence, and a lot of unforced errors making it a much closer match than we felt like it should have been. The Bowdoin match was a very competitive one that ended up a bit lopsided in our favor at 3-0, but was actually a pretty close match. They were blowing us out early in the first game, and got quite a lot of momentum going behind some tough serving and blocking. It wasn't really looking good for us after a serving run by them of about 8 points in a row on the same server, but we rallied very nicely to chip away and not only got ourselves back in that first game, but actually went on a momentum shifting run ourselves and pulled it out in the end 25-23. Serve receive was key as both teams offense was pretty strong in system. In the end, I was delighted with our mental intensity, and composure, which was great to see, especially so early in the season.

Now, we have a mid-week match coming up with Norwich U., and then our Home Opener, and first official Conference match against Amherst on Friday night in Pepin. That match will be web cast, if anyone is interested! Check it out on the athletics web page at MIDD.

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