Sunday, October 31, 2010

MIDD Finishes Regular Season with 2 Conference Wins

It was Halloween weekend, and again we found ourselves at Hamilton, for the 2nd year in a row. This time we were facing Hamilton and Williams, and we were fighting for a top seed for the upcoming Conference Tournament. On Friday night we faced an ever improving Hamilton squad, which we managed to put away in 3 sets behind some very solid play all around. Jane and Julia were our offensive leaders with 11 kills apiece, and only 3 errors between them. MJ also had 10 kills, and Stud had a great hitting night with 6 kills and only 1 error in just over 1 game!

Lauren's parents (OK, Caitlin's too), brought us those wonderful sandwiches again and some salad and other goodies so that we could stay there and eat dinner and watch the Williams vs. Amherst match at 8pm that night. If Williams beat Amherst, then we would be playing for the top seed the next day against Williams. They certainly made it exciting for us! My gut said that Williams just didn't have it that night after they lost the first two games, and were down quite a bit in the 3rd. But then again, it is NESCAC volleyball, and in typical NESCAC fashion, Williams went on a run, and came back in that 3rd game to win. Not only that, but they won the 4th too, to force a deciding 5th game. It was all well worth the free price of admission as it was back and forth the whole way, but Williams couldn't quite pull out the victory, and lost 16-18 in the 5th. We were all glued to the bleachers, and found ourselves in the unusual position of rooting for Williams!

The next morning, we got our chance to play Williams, and our shot at winning the 2nd seed outright. Jane and Julia were again our offensive leaders, along with MJ with 12, 12, and 13 kills respectively, while Elissa contributed 7 kills. We served very well in the match, recording a total of 14 aces, one of which was match point--yeah MJ! Elissa led the serving stats with 4 aces, but Lauren and MJ both added 3, and Jane and Caitlin each had one, which meant that each one of our servers had an ace in the match, which I don't think has happened all year? Jane led our defense with 24 digs, while Caitlin had 14.

It was a little lopsided, as only one set had both teams in the 20's. We won the first and third games by the scores of 25-15, and 25-17, and they won set two 25-18. In the final set, however, we came from behind to win 25-22. We were down 14-17 when I heard Brain remark, "come on now, let's get one here!" I think we may have pulled ahead on that server, and then exchanged points before having a little run at the end to pull ahead for the win. It was a very exciting win for us, as that was the first time our seniors had ever beaten Williams! (Truth be told, it was also Brian's first win over them, which I hadn't even realized since he's been here for 7 seasons now. Yikes!) Needless to say, it was fun!

After the match, Stud's mom had prepared us a fantastic meal to take with us so that we could hop on the bus and head home. Her parfaits, a marvelous fruit salad, and pasta salad, in addition to other various goodies! THANK YOU, PARENTS!! We've had unparalleled support this year from our parents, who have taken care of us on the road, and at home, which is so wonderful. They not only come and cheer us on, but they bring all kinds of food and goodies with them. Julia's mom brought Halloween goodies--yum, and the parfaits that Stud's mom is now famous for were gone long before lunch was even thought about! I'm noticing now, however, that the picture we took didn't have all of our parents that were there even in it. Meg's parents, Stud's parents, and Cordle's mom and sister were all there as well as those pictured. (Sorry we missed the whole group picture!)

As we left for home, there was talk about the Amherst vs. Hamilton match. If somehow Hamilton could manage to beat Amherst, we could still end up with the #1 seed. No offense to Hamilton, but we just didn't think that was possible this year. As we were headed west on I90, we get a text from a parent that had stayed behind that Hamilton had just won the first game and the bus erupted in cheers. It would be short-lived, as Amherst won the next three relatively quickly, but it was fun to think about--go Hamilton!

Now, we're preparing for the Tournament with one match at a time on our minds. We got paired up with Trinity in the #2 vs. #7 seed at 5pm next Friday, and we will be ready! The NESCAC Tournament should be as deep as it's ever been, and we are all excited about that challenge and the opportunity to keep playing! We will keep focused on playing our best volleyball, and see how far that takes us. We try to look at one match at a time all season, but especially at this point in the season, it's more true than ever. At this point, each match you win earns you the opportunity to play one more.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

MIDD Wins Hall of Fame Gold Bracket

We were excited to be in the Gold Bracket for the Hall of Fame this year, after having been the #1 seed for the Silver Bracket the last couple of years. The good thing about the Gold Bracket is that all 8 teams there were very good teams, so the competition in every game was going to be great, and we knew that, and we were excited about that challenge!

We started out Friday night matched up against MIT, who we haven't played in many years. They are an athletic team, with pretty good size, and a balanced attack, so we knew it would be a tough match-up for our first round. We started out very well, and jumped on them early. We served well, and got them out of system, and they made a lot of errors. As we expected, however, they bounced back in game two and it was very close, back and forth. Jane had the hot hand in game two and came up with some big kills and we won that game 25-23. After that, it was more back and forth, but we came up with a couple of key blocks, and defensive plays, and pulled away to take the match in 3 with a 25-19 win in the 3rd.

One of the best things about playing the early match, which this time was at 5pm, was that after we played, we could shower, watch some of the next match (we would play the winner of that match), and still have time to go out to a sit-down dinner! For all of our subway nights, and sandwich nights, it was really nice to actually go out to a restaurant and have a real dinner. After that, we went back to the hotel, and had time to hang out that night, and also sleep in the next morning with a match-time on Saturday of noon.

Tufts beat Brandeis in the match we watched some of, so we were to play Tufts the next day at noon. They were without their starting setter, but seemed to be running their full offense other than that, and we were prepared to play a tough match! We got off to a quick start and never looked back. MJ was playing all the way around without Caroline with us, and she did a fantastic job defensively. Julia had a great all-around match with 12 kills, NO errors, on only 24 swings! She also had 3 assists, 3 aces, and 6 digs to round out an excellent match. Jane, Maddie and Elissa all had good hitting nights with only one error a piece and 6, 6, and 5 kills respectively. Jane added 4 service aces and served a match-high 23 times, and also added 10 digs and a solo block to round out her well-balanced game. MJ added 7 kills to help pace the offense as well.

Both Stud, and Amy got in for part of a set each, and both did an excellent job of maintaining, and raising the level of our play right away. Stud came in and immediately made a very head's up play at the net, and played through the front row, and finished off the game serving for game point. Amy, who came in for MJ late in the 3rd set almost immediately got a kill as soon as she came in, and then also buried the match-winner in the deep cross-court angle to finish the match. She finished with two kills on two swings--now that's hitting efficiency!

We had a decent blocking game for us. We had 4 different people with a solo block, and a total of 6 block assists, with Lauren having three of those to go with her 32 assists, 3 aces, 2 kills, and 11 digs! Caitlin was very solid all match with a team-high 20 digs, and no receiving errors.

Due to the format, we then had a match off with time to actually eat lunch, and read, do work, or watch volleyball. We quickly went over to watch the end of the Amherst vs. Bowdoin match to see who we'd be playing at 4pm. Bowdoin, after upsetting the #6 seed Springfield in 5 sets the night before, was beating Amherst, and thus we ended up playing Bowdoin for the finals.

They were very "up" after two great wins, and we knew they'd be a tough match. We'd played them twice already this season, and won in 3, and 4, but both of us seemed to be playing very well right now, so it was shaping up to be a great match-up. We got off to another great start, and once again, never looked back. We dominated the game, which was very fun to see. We served well, we blocked and hit pretty well, and our defense was very solid. We forced them out of what they wanted to do offensively, and out of serve receive, and took control of the tempo of the game. We won the match with scores of 25-15, 25-15, and 25-20. They didn't go without a fight, and when they made a late run in the 3rd set, we held them off with some great team play. MJ, who struggled a bit hitting against Tufts, bounced right back with 12 kills to lead the offense (and also had 2 blocks), while Jane had 9 kills with only 1 error.

With our balanced attack all weekend, Lauren was awarded the Tournament MVP for leading the way. To our surprise, (and, I guess, it shouldn't have been a surprise for me, but I'd missed it somewhere along the way), by winning the Gold Bracket, we also won a NEW set of Mizuno jerseys!! How FUN. The team was beside themselves, and almost thought it was a joke, (albeit, a bad one if it was one!) So, that was a fun surprise! I think we all felt good about how we played as a team, and we made sure to recognize the fact that it was a TOTAL TEAM effort. Without the support, and hard work of everyone on the team, day in and day out, we wouldn't be adequately prepared for weekends like this. We played well, which was great to see. GO TEAM! We have a big weekend coming up next weekend with our final two Conference matches at Hamilton. We'll work hard this week to be ready for that. One day at a time!

MIDD Wins on Senior Night

It was nice to have a couple of days off from class on Monday and Tuesday, but we couldn't take time off from practice. Our last regular season home match, and Senior Night was Wed. night against the Panthers of Plymouth State University. We started off the night by introducing our two seniors, Lauren and Whit, both of whom own school records. Whit holds the single-match record for total blocks, and also is 4th on the all-time hitting % list at MIDD. Lauren already holds the records for total assists in both a career, and in a single season, with 4 matches left in the regular season. In addition, as you might imagine, she also holds the assists per game records, and currently is ranked among the top 3 in the Conference in assists per game.

It was nice to see Whit back in the lineup after some trouble with her ankle, but she ended up leaving after another tweak, so we're hoping that that heals up here very soon. Caroline wasn't with us due to her concussion, but we're hoping she's back soon as well.
We got off to a great start, and completely dominated the "other" Panthers in the opening set. We served well, and they were making unforced (and maybe some forced) errors all over the place. In the second set, Plymouth started to find their game, and challenged us to step up to that. Our serve receive was a little shaky, and we tried both MJ, and Meg back row to try to settle our recieve. They had a couple of outside attackers that started to put the ball down, and we didn't quite adjust to it quickly enough to pull out a very tight game 2, 24-26.

After that, the last two games were pretty close, back and forth, but we managed the last run, and pulled away late in both sets to win 25-22, and 25-19. MJ, and Julia led our offense with great hitting nights. MJ had 15 kills with only 2 errors on 27 swings for a .481 hitting %. Likewise, Julia had 14 kills with only 3 errors on 34 swings for a .324 hitting %. Jane also had double-digit kills with 10.

Caitlin led the defense on the floor with a 20 dig night, but both Maddie and Elissa had 3 solo blocks to help that defensive effort at the net. Julia had a very well-rounded game with 4 service aces and 6 digs to go with her stellar hitting, and Lauren ended the game with 40 assists.

It was a good challenge mid-week leading up to our weekend at the Hall of Fame Tournament where we're seeded #1 in the Gold Bracket and will play some of the best teams in New England, starting out with MIT on Friday night.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tough Weekend for Panthers

This was a big weekend for us, having to play all three CT schools. We figured they'd all be tough, but we knew that Conn. and Trinity had just battled out a back and forth 5 game match between themselves, and they'd both probably be the tougher competition. The weekend started out well with a convincing 3-0 win against Wesleyan. We played well, and felt good about what we were doing. We had arrived in time to watch some of the Amherst vs. Trinity match before our match, and it was nice to see what Trinity was doing live. We then got refocused on our upcoming match, and we did a nice job of coming out strong, and finishing strong against Wesleyan.

The next morning we faced a tough Conn College team, but despite being behind most of the first set, we pulled out an almost unlikely win in that set 25-23. They serve pretty tough, and our receive was struggling with that, so it wasn't pretty, but both sides were getting in their kills. The second set was much the same as the first, but we didn't get quite as far behind, but we still were trailing a fair amount. Again, we surged ahead toward the end to get a 2-0 lead by the slim margin of 25-23. We knew they weren't going anywhere, and #12 seemed to just hit harder, and try as we did, we couldn't seem to muster the string at the end to pull out the 3rd set, but we still lead 2-1.

We dropped the 4th just barely by two points again, and it was that type of match--back and forth all the way. Neither team getting much of a lead at any one time. The fifth was the same and was tied at 10-10 before a string of tough serving put us on the defensive a little too much. Four of the last five serves to us were either shanked, or rated a 1-pass, which means we had very few hitting options out of serve receive, and I think that hurt a little too much. We'd struggled with our receive all night, a little run by them at that point was tough to come back from, and they scored the last five points in a row to win the match.

After the hard-fought loss to Conn in 5, we had about 30 minutes to regroup and get ready to play Trinity, who had just watched a good bit of our match with Conn. We knew they would be scrappy and dig a ton, and we thought we were prepared for that. Our serve receive looked much better than it had in the Conn match, but it seemed to be "off-speed" balls that gave us some unexpected trouble. We knew their two outsides, and their right side were their main offensive weapons, but we didn't seem to shut any of them down much with our Block, and were left to dig from the back row. #7 hurt us hitting around the block deep, where we weren't, which was a little frustrating, but she's a good hitter. One of the middles was hitting off-speed to 1, where it should have been relatively easy to dig, but more went down than we'd have liked from that spot as well.

We were attacking Trinity, and they were digging pretty well, but when they'd give us either a back-row attack, or a free or off-speed ball, we just didn't seem to be moving our feet to pass it perfectly. Instead, we were passing it up to the middle of the court, or off the net so Lauren had to chase it, and it took our Middles a little out of the offense, and thus made our OH's more affected by a cheating block. Then they started to dig that much more, and block us some.

We knew their defense was pretty deep, and we struggled to really use different speed shots that well. We tried hitting all different angles, but mostly deep where their diggers were. I will say, however, that for losing the first two games after just coming off a tough 5 gamer with Conn, I think we did a nice job keeping our wits about us and winning the next two games to force another 5th game. We started out the game well, and even though we were down when we switched sides at 8, it was only 6-8. We tied the game and even went up 13-10, (I think), but lost a couple in a row before calling timeout at 13-12. We went up 14-13, but then they hit one deep over our block to zone 6, and tooled our block twice, and that was the match.

Of course, it was extremely tough to lose both of those matches in 5. I do believe, however, that we will learn from this, and be stronger for it. We've not had a lot of experience with super scrappy teams that just dig a ton, and have good hitters, and I think this will benefit us in the long run. We have actually shown a lot of poise in several matches so far this year in coming from behind to win individual sets, and that calmness under pressure is good to see. I think we have the calmness under pressure, but we may need the "sense of urgency" at times also?! Toward the end of Trinity, however, we didn't seem to be as sure of ourselves, as we have in the past, and we actually had a couple of miscommunications, which are uncharacteristic.

In my opinion, Trinity out-played us and deserved to win. It's the NESCAC, and that's the way it is. You have to be ready every match, and every point within the match. There will be tough breaks, and great shots on both sides, and you have to be playing your best to win against any one of the top NESCAC teams. Even though they had very good hitters, and they play very good defense, I don't think we took good enough care of the ball when they were just keeping it in play. We made some of the tough plays, and we made a lot of good plays, but didn't make the easy plays good enough to really maximize our offense. In addition, I don't think we have reached our full potential of our offensive talents yet, which is something that we'll be working on. I think we do certain things really well, for the most part, but we need to have a few more options. Our blocking is improving, but we still have some work to do there, and obviously, we will still be working on consistency with our serve receive.

We have some great matches coming up before we head into our last Conference Weekend, and then the Tournament. Senior night is Wed. against Plymouth State, and then we head to the Hall of Fame Tournament, where we'll play MIT on Friday night. There will be most of the top teams in New England there, and it will be another great opportunity to test our resolve and skills!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

MIDD Beats Skidmore in Straight Sets

The first set wasn't pretty but we ended up getting it together. Is that a recurring theme? I hope not. Anyway, we played the match with some very nice pink balls because it was a Dig Pink event. Skidmore had a great crowd, who were loud and it was a fun atmosphere, but we didn't really come out that strong. It was their home opener, which is hard to imagine at this point in the season, but the crowd was ready to cheer on their team.

We had trouble getting on their middle early, and she was both hitting around us, and also swiping off the block etc. They were setting fairly high to the outsides, so we felt like we had time to get out to close the block, but somehow didn't seem to be doing that great of a job with that to start with. After we fought back in the first match, we traded points at the end, and finally took one of our few leads of the game in extra points, and then won 28-26. I think we showed some poise to be behind almost the whole first game, and them come back to tie it up late, before going ahead for the win. And to that when we were really struggling to get anything going was good to see.

The second set started out much better, and we seemed to be coming into our own when Julia got hit right in the face with a pretty hard shot! A couple of points later, her nose started to bleed, and she had to come out to get that taken care of. Amy Hart played in the front, and did a great job. Meg has been playing right side in practice, but has been pretty sick lately, so we put Amy in there after not practicing there, and she did a great job. Courtney then came in the back and played very solid defense before Julia was ready to come back in the front row. Their crowd was fairly decent, but had made comments on various things about us, but as soon as Julia came back in the front row, Lauren set her first thing, and it went down for a kill. (That seemed to quiet the crowd a bit!) Also, I realized that Caitlin got a few big "oh's" from the crowd with a few digs that seemed they were going down for kills for Skidmore, but then came back up! I don't often notice the crowd, but I think because we were facing them, and they were pretty loud, it was more obvious?

Anyway, we seemed to have deflated their bubble a bit after pulling out the first set. They've been having a great season, and they'd beaten us in 5 the last two times we've played them, and once we got going with our game, they seemed to not know just what to do, and almost seemed to just get stuck in neutral. The second set was fairly close, however, it was us this time who had the lead quite a bit of the time, and then finished it out still with that 3-4 point lead.

The third set was mostly us. However, as we seemed to be cruising to finish out the match strongly, they had a last surge, and made a small run of their own in the last set to narrow our growing lead, but in the end, we surged ahead ourselves to take the final set 25-17.

All in all, it was a good win for us. I think they're a very solid team in the NY region, and even though we don't have many common opponents, it's a good win for us out of region. Now, we are preparing for another tough Conference Weekend at Amherst this Friday and Saturday as we will take on Wesleyan, Conn, and Trinity. All are dangerous teams, and the seedings for the tournament are all still on the line, so this should be a fun weekend! We are taking each game one game at a time, because we know "a team is only as good as they play, TODAY!" So, we'll see what "today" looks like this afternoon.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Parent's Weekend Brings TWO Conference Wins!

Weekends like this, we say, "What a great day to be a Panther!" It was a gorgeous Fall Weekend to have it be Parent's Weekend here at Middlebury. Despite being inside for our matches, I think everyone still had a chance to get out Saturday morning, or later Saturday afternoon with their parents to enjoy the beautiful Fall colors! It was great because everyone but three players, I think, had at least one parent here.

On Friday night we were the only athletic action on campus, and we had a great crowd for the first of two big Conference Matches. Despite showing up a little late, Bowdoin put up a good fight. We cruised out to a big lead in the first game, and even though they staged a late run, we closed it out 25-19. The second game was closer, and more of a back and forth battle, but we won to go up 2-0. We knew they weren't going away--they had just come off recent matches where they staged two come from behind victories in 5 games (after losing the first two sets), so we knew they had some fight left in them. Behind some strong net play, balanced scoring, and some tough serving, they took set 3by a score of 21-25.

We almost looked like we might be rattled by that, as we finished out the game a little flat, but we came out at the start of the 4th set with a steely look that we were not to be denied. We dominated the 4th 25-15, and that was that. Jane and Elissa led our offense with 11, and 9 kills respectively. Julia and MJ both had 8 kills to go along with that, but struggled more with hitting %. The great thing about the balance of our team this year is that we often change up who has the hot hand, and have had consistently balanced scoring overall. Caitlin and Caroline again led our defensive effort with 31, and 20 digs, and Elissa had 6 blocks!

After the match, the parents had a scrumptious dinner planned for us in Lawson Lounge, which made it really convenient for us to all be together and celebrate all the parents being around, and our win, but also be able to easily get back in the gym to watch some of the Amherst vs. Tufts match. THANK YOU, parents! It's nice to have the luxury of watching the team you'll play the next day.

Saturday proved to be even better. We hosted Tufts (for the third year in a row, somehow!) Last year they came to play us at home ranked #1 in New England, and we knocked them off 3-1. This year, they came in ranked #2 in New England, and we did it again, 3-1. Amherst had beaten them the night before, and I wasn't sure if that would end up being a good thing, or a bad thing for us. Sometimes, when a team like that takes a loss, they come out with fire in their blood the next day. Well, after the first game, it didn't seem to matter what they did because we were the ones with fire in our blood.

The first game they took easily while we looked a bit like deer in headlights. Fortunately, we shook off that dazed look, and started to settle down and just play our game. We got right back in it by taking the next set decisively 25-18. The next two sets would prove to be tough battles. I think we showed a lot of poise coming down the stretch in both of those games, and stuck to our game plan, and just fought it out and won. We made plays when we needed to, and in both games had a late surge where we scored a couple points in a row on our serve in the 20's, instead of just trading points as we'd been doing with them, and that ended up being the difference as we won both games by scores of 25-22. We had a pretty balanced attack, as both Jane and MJ had double digit kills, and Julia had 9, and Elissa had 7. Elissa came through with a big serving night with 3 aces, and a timely run to put set 2 (I think?) out of reach for Tufts.

Defensively, we had a lot of total hustle plays. We may not have made it look easy by being in the "right" spot for a lot of digs. I think we actually made it look hard by scrambling and getting balls just barely up, but keeping them in play. Julia even demonstrated the "Pursuit Rule" by going out and around the post on the other side of the net to play the ball back toward our side, and then we got it over (which IS legal!) Caitlin and Jane both had 17 digs, but the big defensive night was for both Julia and Lauren, who had 17, and 22 digs respectively! Maddie led our blocking effort with 3 block assists.

As I told the team after the match, it was a total team effort! Whit was unable to play this weekend after spraining an ankle in practice on Wednesday. Maddie just stepped right in and we didn't miss a beat. Our practices are very competitive because we are able to run our own offense on both sides of the net every day, and challenge ourselves constantly. Now, our goal is to keep that going, and keep improving on both our individual skills, and our team skills. We are on the right path, but we still have a lot of work to do to be the team we want to be by the end of the season!

We travel tomorrow to play a very tough out-of-region opponent in Skidmore College before heading to Amherst this weekend for another round of Conference Matches. It's all three CT schools this weekend, starting with Wesleyan on Friday night, followed by Conn, and Trinity on Saturday. It's all getting very interesting now as we've passed the half-way point of the season.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

MIDD Wins Both in Maine

It was a long, and rainy trip over to Lewiston, ME, but we made it. When we arrived, we got to watch the last game of Amherst beating Bates, and then took the court ourselves to face the Mules of Colby College. We did have a couple of friendly faces as both MJ's parents, and Meg Anderson's mom made the long trek to ME to cheer us on. Also, a fellow MIDD Alum, Heidi Howard Allen (who is now married to the Bates head coach greeted us as she watched her husbands team play Amherst. She was allowed to cheer for us on Friday night against Colby!)

We started out well, winning the first game. We got off to a somewhat slow start, trading points and trailing by a few points early in the game, but finished strongly to take it 25-17. The second game, however, we got off to an even slower start, and didn't quite have the rally in us, it seemed. Colby was a very scrappy team, and despite not having a lot of power in their offense, they found some areas of the court that were open, and took the game 21-25. We seemed to be trying to help them out by serving out 9 times in just 4 games, but we did bounce back to win the last two games 25-18, and 25-12. In the end, I think our offense was just too much for them. Three people had double digit kills with MJ, Julia and Jane all posting 11. Elissa had a great hitting percentage with 5 kills on 12 swings, and no errors.

Defensively, we had four people with double digit digs. Jane and Lauren each had 19 digs, with Caitlin and Julia having 18, and 16 respectively. They were attacking our right side defense more than usual, it seemed, with Lauren and Julia combining for quite a lot of digs. Whit came through on the blocking front in a big way with 4 solos, and 2 assists to lead our defense at the net, while Elissa had two a piece.

The next day the sun broke through, and it was an absolutely gorgeous day. We played the late game (1:30), so we were able to sleep in, get a good, hot breakfast buffet, and had a leisurely morning enjoying some time just sitting outside the hotel before departing for the gym. Several people didn't like the coffee at breakfast that much, so we had decided to stop at a Dunkin Donuts on the way to the gym. Fortunately, we were preparing to stop there, because our bus stalled, and we coasted to a stop right in front of the DD. People filed off to get their coffee, while Andy our bus driver frantically started calling the home office etc. to see what could be done about our bus situation.

Long story short, after stalling out several times on our way to the gym, which was only about 4 or 5 miles from the hotel, we made it, and Andy topped off the coolant, and drove it around while we watched the end of the Amherst-Colby match. He assured us by the time we finished, we'd be all set to get home safely.

We let him do his thing with the bus, while we prepared to play Bates. I don't know if it was the excitement from the bus, the iced coffee, or just good preparation in general, but we were pretty sharp from the initial serve. Our reactionary defense was about as good as it's been. They didn't have a lot of offense, but they came at us with several types of shots, and we just were alert, and ready and kept odd deflections in play, and regrouped when out of system, and pretty much dominated from start to finish. We subbed several people, and our level of play stayed very consistent, which was great to see.

Elissa had another great hitting game with 8 kills and no errors on 18 swings. She was followed by Jane with 7, Amy and Julia with 6, and MJ and Stud with 4 and 3. Whit again had 2 solo blocks to lead the defense at the net, while Caitlin again led our floor defense with 17 digs--she leads the Conference in Digs/game. Charlotte Ching came in and served well against Bates, and played some great defense as well. Lauren had over 10 assists a game which is a stat that currently leads the Conference. Also, Julia added 5 more aces to her impressive total of aces as she is among the leaders in the Conference in Aces.
In addition to our bus excitement, we had a fun lunch prepared for us by MJ's mom. She had asked if she could get us lunch, which was great, so we enthusiastically said, sure! By the time the team returned from the showers, there were 18 individual bags lined up in the bleachers with names on them. In each was a sandwich, a drink, chips, some healthy treats, and a couple of fun treats for dessert. How fun. Thank you, Angela! (Fortunately, we didn't end up needing them to shuttle us from our broken-down bus to the game 4 at a time, as we were thinking we might have to do at one point earlier that day.)

Notch up a couple more Conference wins for us, but truth be told, we have some tough ones coming up! Unfortunately, Bates and Colby are not two of the tougher teams we'll face in Conference. This weekend Bowdoin and Tufts come to our gym for our next round of Conference games, and we're looking forward to a good challenge with both of those matches. To top it off, it's Parents' Weekend, which is exciting as well. This is the time of year when teams generally feel like they're putting it together, and we're looking forward to testing our skills against both teams! We played Bowdoin earlier in the season, but this one is the one that will count toward the Conference Standings.

The Friday night 6pm match with Bowdoin will be webcast, but if you want to see our Tufts match at 1:30 the next day, you'll have to come in person to Pepin to catch the action! See you there.