Thursday, December 8, 2011

6 Honored as Academic All-NESCAC

We had 6 players honored by being named Academic All-NESCAC this Fall. Freshmen are not eligible for Academic All-NESCAC honors, so of the remaining 10 players on the team, having 6 honored with this distinction was really a great testament to the depth of our academic talent, as well as our athletic talent. Being named Academic All-Conference is a very nice honor, and we're very excited to have 6 players earn this by achieving an overall GPA of 3.35 or better. Jane Handel, Julia Gibbs, Maddie Firestone, Sarah Studwell, Caitlin Barrett, and Meg Anderson were those honored. For those not that familiar with our team, that's ALL FOUR juniors, along with one senior, and one sophomore--well done guys!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

MIDD "Queens" of Senior Classic

Jane and Elissa were invited to play in the NEWVA Senior Classic by being honored as two of the top 30 seniors in New England. That day was this past Sunday. They took to the court one last time together as over 25 young women competed in different skill games, and then competed in an actual match. I think they may not have come out on the winning team for the match, but they did come away with a nice honor. Jane and Elissa placed #1 and #2 in the Queen of the Court competition! How fun! Well done, guys. They scored it how we sometimes do in practice where you end up competing on many different teams, but the individuals with the most points scored on the "Queen" side win.

It was a very nice event, and a nice culmination of a career playing against many of these girls. They didn't know all of the girls, but many of them they'd played against at least once, and several many times.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Post Season Honors Come Out

I'd say that Middlebury was well represented in post-season honors. Several players were recognized in one way or another, so here goes:

Elissa Goeke was selected to be on the NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Team, and also was recognized as a New England Senior Classic Honoree. This award honors the top 25 seniors in New England, so congratulations to Elissa.

Jane Handel was also selected as a NE Senior Classic Honoree, in addition to being named once again a First Team All-NESCAC member. She was also awarded 2nd Team All New England by NEWVA (New England Coaches Association). Congratulations to Jane for all of her accomplishments, especially considering that she only played in about 60 % of our games this year due to her injury.

Caitlin Barrett came home with a couple of big honors this year as our only Honorable Mention All-American, and only representative on the AVCA All-Region Team! Caitlin was also selected for the 2nd Team All-New England by NEWVA, and 2nd Team All-NESCAC. Well done, Caitlin!

Julia Gibbs was honored as an Honorable Mention All-Region by the AVCA, and also on the 2nd Team All-NESCAC. In addition, she was honored as All-Tournament for the NCAA Regional. Congratulations Julia for your accomplishments this year, and all while playing in a new position!

Megan Jarchow (MJ) was honored as and Honorable Mention All-Region by the AVCA, and also joined Jane on the 1st Team All-NESCAC. In addition, MJ was also awarded the NCAA Regional All-Tournament team. Some very nice honors to post as a sophomore! Well done, MJ!

Amy Hart was honored on the NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team this year, which is a very nice testament to how well she played all weekend. Amy posted one of her strongest weekends of play on the biggest stage, which is just great competitiveness! Amy hit .433 for the final match vs. Cortland, and .371 for the weekend. Great job, Amy.

I think the only awards that haven't come out yet are the Academic All-Conference awards, so very nice job everyone. Those are some impressive awards!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

MIDD Ends Season at Sweet 16!

Advancing to the Regional Finals was another step forward for our Program. Cortland proved to be a tough foe, and although the match was very competitive, they ended our season by winning their 42nd match against only one loss all season.

We did get to see them play a couple of times, both Friday and Saturday, and we knew they would be a tough team. We felt like their strength was their blocking, but that their floor defense could be a weakness, and if we could stay in system and on the offensive, then we could really pressure them. Offensively, we felt like we could match them. We were successful to start out, and we served them tough, and jumped out to an early lead. Although they closed it to a few, they never pulled even, and we surged ahead at the end to have 8 set points at 24-17. They gained some momentum as they scored four behind some good blocking and a couple of errors on our part before we closed out the set.

They came out strong behind that slight momentum shift late in the second set, but we were attacking well too, and despite the back-and-forth nature of that game, there were a couple of small runs to end the game, and unfortunately, we didn't have the last one. We came back from down 20-17 to go up by one at 21-20, but they closed it out at 25-22 on their final run to end the set.

The third set turned out to be a big one. It was a game of swings as we jumped out early to an 11-6 advantage, only to have them go on a run of their own to take a 14-11 advantage. They kept pushing it to 22-17, but we fought back with a late run of our own to tie it at 23 which showed a lot of grit and determination. We fought off two set points and tied it both times to keep pushing extra points, but never gained a set point of our own, and eventually fell 27-25.

We seemed undaunted by the setback, and we've certainly been in that position several times earlier in the year, and we came out trading points with them in what had been, and continued to be a very even match back and forth. Down one at 14-15, they put a dagger in us by going on a 7 point, unanswered run. Despite a timeout, we couldn't get a stop, and from that point, they closed out the match with a 10-5 run to earn them a trip to St. Louis and the Elite 8.

I think at that point in the season, a loss is devastating, especially in a very competitive and tight match. We felt like we played well, but could have played better down the stretch, but isn't that usually the case when you lose? SUNY Cortland was a very good team that had only lost one match all year, and they had a lot of different weapons, as did we, but we forced them to really earn the win.

Our goal had been to get our hitting % as a team up above .200, which we did for not only this match, but had been consistently doing toward the end of the season enough to put us at .201 for the season, good enough for 4th in NESCAC. After being in the bottom half all season in that category, that was good news, and to hit .217 against Cortland, who is a very good blocking team, that was good to see. Amy Hart hit an impressive .448, Maddie was .500, and MJ was .316 to lead our offensive efficiency! We were, however, out-blocked 18-6, and that was an insurmountable difference. We actually ended with more kills, and service aces, and less blocking errors and receiving errors, but ended with 8 more hitting errors. The stats don't always tell the story, however, and we fought for the match, and had some people really step up along the way to get us to where we were. Great Team Effort!

All in all, it was a fantastic season. Having to start without a senior captain for half of the season, and losing our starting setter early in the season gave us some adjustments to make. The team depth proved to be very important and people stepped up, and we just kept trying to move forward and keep improving as the season went along, and I think we did an excellent job of that. We seemed to hit stride late in the season, and made a great run through the NESCAC Tournament until we came up against Bowdoin in the Finals, but honestly, it could have been the Conference Semi-final win over Tufts that put is in the NCAA's?! Hard to say, but our strength of schedule certainly helped too, as we had strongest schedule in all of New England according to the NCAA criteria.

Next year will be yet another new team dynamic, and we'll once again set forth trying to be the best we can be and see if we can take another step forward for the MCVB Program. With the past couple of seasons, it's getting tougher and tougher to top, but then, we all love a good challenge!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

MIDD Advances to Regional Finals!

Earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament was a thrill for us this year. We'd put ourselves in about the best position we could, without winning the Conference Championships, so we awaited the selection show to determine our fate. Fate was good to us, as we not only received an at-large bid, but also drew the #2 seed in the NY Region! We'd been about 5th in the latest NE poll, so it was a good draw to be "shipped out" in this case.

We headed to Clarkson University on Thursday night after practice and dinner, so we'd be there in plenty of time, and well rested for our afternoon game on Friday. We were due to play Colby-Sawyer, whom we'd beaten somewhat handily earlier in the season, but at this point in the season, we all know there are no easy wins!

We felt like we were ready to play, and not overlooking anyone, but we just didn't come out super sharp, and they came out ready to go! They were ready for us, and were playing very well to start out, and we trailed by a few points for most of that first set. We did start to come alive, as we finally got our offense clicking, and finished out the first set for the win. The second set was fairly close as well, but after the MH from Colby-Sawyer went out with an ankle injury, their offense struggled a bit, as they shifted people around, and finally our offense just took control, and we cruised to an easier victory in the last set.

The next day we faced a Skidmore team who has also lost a Middle to an ankle injury the night before! I think that first day, three teams all lost a MH with an ankle injury. At any rate, Skidmore put up a tremendous fight, much more competitive than they had the first time we'd played them, which we expected they would.

We had one of our best hitting percentage nights when both MJ and Amy were hitting over .400, and Jane was .324. We've talked about getting our hitting % as a team above .200, and for the night we were .297, and against a good team, which was great to see. We traded points for a good part of the first set before getting a slight advantage late in the teens, and then trading points again to finish a few points ahead. The second set our offense was on fire, and they couldn't get a hand on our hitters either at the net, nor on defense. The final set was back and forth again, but we got some key blocks and enough offense to close it out before Skidmore could force it into extra points, or another set.

That put us into the Regional Finals, which is one step farther than we've ever gone before, and that was exciting. We stayed to watch some of the next match to get a good look at the team (whichever one won) that we'd play the next day for all the marbles. It looked as if SUNY Cortland would win, and they were huge, but we'd all decided that their defense was shaky at times, and if we could stay in system, and stay on the attack, we could not only play with them, but also WIN!!

With that in mind, we headed to dinner at a cute little Italian place in downtown Potsdam for a quiet team dinner. Well, truth be told, we actually headed to Ponderosa first, but then realized that they really don't have anything without big pieces of meat everywhere, and it just seemed to be a bit too much, so we left and headed to the cute little Italian place, which ended up being perfect. The parents all headed off together in a different direction and sent us their picture, clearly all enjoying themselves, which is fantastic! They've created quite a MCVB family of their own, which is very nice.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

MIDD Falls in NESCAC Championship, Still Going to NCAA's

It was a gorgeous Fall weekend in Maine, even for an indoor sport. Unfortunately, Brian had to miss this trip because his brother was getting married in California. He was very anxiously checking his phone (good timing getting a cell phone, which he's only had for a month or two!) for scores and updates, and I think he even watched some of the webcasts! Now, that's dedication! In his absence, I enlisted the help of a former MIDD standout, and leader to be my assistant for the weekend. Lauren Barrett made her return to the MIDD bench, but unlike her entire time at MIDD, she never left the bench. It's much different from the sidelines, but Lauren was a fabulous addition to our staff, and was great in her new role as a coach.

Friday evening we took on the Camels from CONN, who were back to full strength with the return of their top hitter and NESCAC kill leader, Amy Newman. We were excited to play them, and we knew it would be a different match this time around with her, but we were ready! We blocked really well, and our goal was to minimize the impact of Newman, which we did. We won in three straight, and in somewhat commanding fashion, although at that point in the season, every win is hard fought.

The next day we faced Tufts in the semi's. We walked around town to get lunch, and enjoyed the sunshine and warm Fall weather before heading to the gym. After a very disappointing loss to them earlier in the season, we were ready to prove to ourselves that we were better than that. It was a great match all around. Every game was very close, and we needed extra points in two sets to pull out the four set victory. We were down 21-19, and 24-23 before pulling out the 26-24 victory in the 4th, and a return to the Championship game!

Sunday, we made our routine stop at Dunkin Donuts, and got to the gym early enough to walk around campus and stretch our legs, as usual. We were playing the host polar bears, who had had a tough fight with Trinity the night before, but were victorious in 4 sets. Having lost in 5 to them earlier in the season, we knew we not only could play with them, but felt that we could definitely beat them if we played the way we had been playing. I thought we matched up pretty well with them, and thought we could be in for a back and forth fight to the finish. Well, we came out a bit flat, and they came out on fire, and that was not a great combination for us. They got their middles going early, and right in rhythm, and we felt a half step slow on several counts. Needless to say, we lost in three straight, and although the games were all relatively close, we really weren't ever in control of any part of the match.

It was a very disappointing way to end the season, especially after having played so well the previous two days. We arrived home with some uncertainty about whether or not our season was over or not. We would be considered for an at-large bid for the NCAA's, but I was very unsure if we would get it or not.

Monday late morning when the selection show was underway, we received our good news that we were IN! Not only that, but it appeared that we had been moved to the NY Regional, and had the #2 seed, which was very unexpected. We headed over to Clarkson after practice Thursday night in preparation to play Colby-Sawyer on Friday afternoon at 3:00 pm.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

MIDD Wins Final Regular Season Match

It's by far our shortest trip, up to St. Mikes, and we got there really early with absolutely no traffic whatsoever, which was nice. It took us just over an hour, which to go just north of Burlington is pretty good time. We couldn't even get in the gym until 5:30 because Basketball practice was going on. We warmed up, and seemed ready to go, other than Julia forgetting to bring her shoes?! St. Mikes was a little unimpressive to start out, and the gym was pretty empty and QUIET, it was an odd atmosphere. We were sluggish getting going, but still managed to control the first two sets pretty well.

The next two sets, however, we didn't seem to pull away at any point, and just remained point for point, and then our errors hurt us as they pulled out the 3rd and 4th sets by 2 points each. They seemed to come alive a bit more, and Fortunately, we got at least a little bit more on track for the 5th. Despite never really getting in a good rhythm, we prevailed by controlling the 5th set for the win.

The highlights of the match were we out-blocked them 18-6, and our hitting percentage for the match was .247. Our goal has been to get it above .200, and our team average is closing in on that number, which is good. Jane and Amy had the hot hands with 17, and 16 kills respectively, and MJ and Stud combined for another 10. Piper had 5 kills on 7 swings, to go with 5 blocks in her 4 games. Maddie had 4 kills and Elissa added 5, while Julia had 5 aces to go with 3 blocks and 51 assists on the night.

We know we will face better competition this weekend, so we still have two more days to practice hard and be sharp to take on our NESCAC foes!! We are preparing to play our best volleyball this weekend where we'll take on Conn at 8pm on Friday night in the #3 vs #6 match-up! LET's GO MIDD!!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

MIDD Wins Two--Takes 3rd Seed for NESCAC's

Our final Conference Weekend of the season went well, and that earned us the #3 seed for the upcoming NESCAC Tournament. We traveled to Amherst to take on Hamilton on Friday night and Williams on Saturday morning. Friday night we played our match after Amherst played Williams. That was quite a match as Williams won the first two sets before Amherst came back to win the next three in dramatic fashion on their Senior Night. It was close the whole way, and it drew everyone's attention as both our team and Hamilton were warming up on the other court, but kept coming back to see what the score was and to watch the back and forth match.

When we finally took the court, we came out a bit sluggish and battled with Hamilton for most of the first two sets. We struggled to get anything really going in the first set, but managed to go on a couple of runs that put us ahead for the win at 25-16. MJ and Amy were our offense with 3 and 4 kills that set. It was more of the same in the second set, and we trailed for most of the it before barely eking out a win 26-24 behind 6 kills from MJ, and 4 for Jane. We just seemed a half step slow to the ball, and we just made everything look hard, but once we got both our OH's going, they really couldn't answer that. We finally got on track in the third as we came out on fire, and opened up a big lead early that saw Hamilton blow through both time-outs in the first 15 points. MJ had 7 kills on 8 swings, and Jane had 3 on 4 swings, and Amy added 3 kills. We then cruised to a 25-9 win in that game, and headed to the hotel for our "Special Sandwich" dinner ala Barretts. Our match got started late, and even though we won in three, it was late by this time, so we actually got everyone to motivate and get in and out of the showers so we could get back to eat and get to bed relatively early. MJ stole the show with 16 kills, followed by Jane (8), and Amy (7). Caitlin led all defenders with 25 digs, while Jane had 15, and Elissa led all blockers with 4, followed by Julia with 3, and Maddie with 2. Lizzy and Meg shared the DS spot, while Stud served and played defense for Elissa.

Continental Breakfast at the hotel was not a lot to write home about, but it is fast, and fits our budget well! We finished in plenty of time for the captains to ask if we could swing by our favorite place on our way to the gym--Dunkin Donuts! (The money we save on hotel breakfast we easily spend at DD!) Yes, they brought it up on their phones, and there was one less than a mile from our hotel, so we pulled our bus into the parking lot, and piled out to get our favorite caffeine jolts before heading to the gym. This was the first time the main question was, "do I want it hot or cold?!" The winter weather had set in overnight, and the air was crisp, and the weather stations were all talking about the winter storm heading our way. Our trusty bus-driver, Gary was saying we should get on the road as quickly as possible after the match to beat the storm home. (Just for reference, we didn't end up getting much of anything up in Middlebury, and Sunday was a gorgeous day to be outside!)

Ice and hot coffee's in hand, we headed into the gym to prepare to take on the Eph squad. We were ready to play, and despite a back and forth first set, we won the first set 25-22. In the second set we jumped out early, and kept a consistent lead of about 5 points most of the way through and ended up with a 25-13 win in dominating fashion in the 2nd set. We blocked well, and our defense came up a notch, and our consistency was pretty solid and we closed out the 3-0 win with a final set of 25-18. Amy led all hitters with 11 kills, followed by MJ (9), Jane (8), and Elissa (7). Elissa ended with 5 blocks, and Amy with 4, while Caitlin and Jane led the team in digs with 11, and 12 respectively. Julia had 32 assists, and has been consistently averaging over 10 assists per game here lately. Meg and Lizzy again split the DS spot, and Stud again served and played defense for Elissa.

One amazing thing happened that I'd like to mention here because it really struck me as a very cool thing. Friday night Amherst celebrated their Senior Night. One of the parents from Amherst brought purple and white leis for their seniors, as is sometimes typical. But, before our match, he brought over blue and white ones for our two seniors. I didn't really understand just what was going on until later, and it floored me. I think he may have even made signs for all seniors or MIDD seniors, I'm not even sure--I just heard the players commenting on the signs! The thoughtfulness in that, for a rival team (although, we are "travel partners") was amazing, and truly above and beyond sportsmanlike, and just very cool. I've never experienced anything like that in all my years of coaching, not without a connection of some kind to both programs. Anyway, I wanted to share that because it was a really special experience.

OK, now we have the 3rd seed for the NESCAC's next weekend up at Bowdoin. We'll take on Conn in the first round at 8pm next Friday. The winner of our game will play the winner of Tufts/Colby on Saturday. We will be packing for the weekend, and bringing our best game with us so we hope to stay the whole time!

Our last regular season match is actually this Tuesday night, so we're looking to stay game-ready this week by taking on Div. II St. Mikes up in Colchester, and then having two more practices after that for final preparations before the weekend. FUN time of year, and Happy Halloween to everyone!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Emma Returned Home

I'm a little belated in posting this, but Emma has returned home from the Hospital, and is doing well. She keeps in close contact with Courtney still, and writes her letters, and misses her best friend who's gone back to school in VT. She's apparently met the Bronco's quarterback, and informed him that while she'd like for him to join Team Emma, he'd better take care of Team Bronco first! :) Sounds like she's got her spunk totally back! We're still thinking about you out here in Vermont, Emma. Keep getting better!!

The team signed this pink volleyball to send to Emma for her return home from the Hospital.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Meg's Birthday Celebration at Mt. Holyoke

We were the last team playing, once again, for the weekend. For whatever reason, especially at this tournament, we tend to be the last team in the gym. The matches ahead of us ran late, and then we went to 4 sets. Anyway, the good news about this was that we had the gym to ourselves as the team donned the birthday hats for Meg's birthday!! We had cupcakes (very yummy!), and party hats, and even a few noise makers, and sang happy birthday right there in the gym to our birthday girl! Happy Birthday, MEG!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Successful 2-1 Weekend at the Hall of Fame

We came away from our weekend 2-1, and although we really wanted to beat Springfield, we did post a couple of very good wins against Wellesley and MIT. Wellesley was ranked above us in the New England Poll, and had been playing very well lately with a big win over Springfield giving the #1 team in NE their first loss of the season.

We played Wellesley on Friday night, and I think we took control of the match early on, and really set the tempo. Our goal was to really stay offensive-minded, and I think we did a good job of that. Our receive was on, and we were able to get the ball to our outsides with consistent sets where they had good angles around the block to hit, and Wellesley couldn't really contain them. MJ and Jane had 17, and 12 kills respectively. Amy and Elissa chipped in with 6, and 7 to round out our offensive attack.

Caitlin anchored our defense with help from Jane, and Lizzy on receive, and it was overall a very solid match. Caitlin's mom brought our favorite sandwiches again, and despite a last minute hotel change, we ended up in a nice hotel and had our dinner there before getting in bed relatively early for us. This allowed several kids to get some well-needed sleep at the end of a tough week of mid-terms and work due right before Fall Break, which is Monday and Tuesday.

Saturday morning we arrived at Smith in plenty of time to allow a team walk down-town to the Dunkin Dounuts for some ice coffee. The extra caffeine may have been needed since we pulled out a very tight three game match with MIT at noon.

MJ, and Jane led with 10 kills each, while Amy had 6, and Julia and Elissa each had 5 and Maddie had 4 for about our most even distribution of kills yet this year. We also had the longest single game I think I've ever been a part of playing to 25 when we won 34-32. That showed a lot of guts, and poise on our part as we were down by a point several times during that stretch, but pulled out the win. The 3rd set we actually dug ourselves quite a hole, but instead of dropping that set (as we've been prone to doing at times), we chipped away, and pulled ahead to finish out with a 3 point win in the last set, which was really great to see. This time of the year, we could very well find ourselves in very tight matches quite often, and it's great to see the poise and determination to hang strong, and step up and make some plays.

The last match of the weekend was against the #1 team in the Region, Springfield. They'd suffered only their 2nd loss of the season in the noon match against Tufts, and we were determined to be their 3rd loss! We came out strong, and may have surprised them a bit as we seemed to frustrate them by keeping them out of what they really wanted to do. They had some trouble really getting their big middle involved and effective, and we took the first game 25-19. The rotated their lineup a bit in the 2nd, and that seemed to be a slight advantage to them, but we still had our opportunity to win that second set, but couldn't quite come up with the big point when we needed it, and dropped a tight 2nd set 24-26.

In the 3rd set we tried Piper on the big middle, but she was getting going and we were having trouble containing her as she had a big game, and showed why she's their g0-to hitter. They were also in system more that game, and were able to run her across the net. Again, we were not far off the mark, losing that game by 3 points, but I don't think we were as consistent as we wanted to be. Our receive started to get a bit shaky at points, and then that threw off our offense, and we gave them a few too many easy shots. One thing that we did start to do, however, was to be really aggressive with our back row attacks, and that was good to see, and something that we've been talking about and trying to incorporate into our system, so that was a very good sign to see some real sparks there!

Our consistency fell off a bit more in the last game, and they came away with a 17-25 win in the final set. Although it was disappointing to lose to them, I think we were able to come away from the weekend with very positive outlook, along with a few things that we'd like to improve on before we play our last Conference Weekend before heading into the Tournament. Nice job, MIDD. For her efforts on the weekend, Jane was named to the All-Tournament Team, so congrats to Jane for that!!

Now, the kids can enjoy some nice, relaxing time off with no classes to go to on Monday or Tuesday, and I'll actually get home for dinner with my family on those two nights since we'll have practice earlier in the day. It's a win-win! :)

We don't play again until next Friday when we travel to Amherst to take on Hamilton and Williams.

MIDD Takes Plymouth in 5 Sets

We were still witnessing the devastation from Irene as we made our trip over the mountains to Plymouth on Wednesday afternoon. We attempted to make the over the mountain pass with some minor detours, but those turned out to be very time consuming. After a nice "tour" of some back roads somewhere near Bethel, VT we finally made it to the interstate, but we were desperately short on time. Our detour, which was probably less than 10 miles out of our way took us over 45 minutes! All in all, we arrived at the gym about 5-10 minutes before we wanted to start warming up, when we usually arrive between 45-60 minutes before we want to warm up.

I have to say, however, that the majority of the team was out on the court within about 10 min, which was impressive for our bunch! Very good hustle, and that desire and attitude could have been the extra factor in a very closely contested match that night.

Jane Handel exploded for 21 kills, and she answered the call when we needed a kill several times at key moments. They had a couple of outside hitters that were their main offense, but we put three hitters in double-digit kills to their two. MJ and Amy had 17, and 14 kills respectively, and we out-blocked them 20-12. The most impressive thing about our blocking on the night was that I'd guess that about 80% of our blocks came late in the match?! That's only a guess, but we were not having good success blocking early in the match, and we kept making slight adjustments, and then something clicked in with our blockers, and we just started seeing the hitters better, and getting the block set right where we wanted it, and got the timing down, and started to shut them down, which was great to see.

Maddie ended with 5 blocks, and MJ, Amy and Julia all had 4 blocks. Jane and Caitlin led the floor defense with 22, and 21 digs respectively. Julia had 55 assists, 1 ace, and 17 digs to go along with 4 kills for a very good all-around night.

For the ride home, we just took the safe, late night route through Rutland on Rte. 4 so we wouldn't have to navigate those back road detours at night, in the rain! We have the Hall of Fame Tournament this weekend where we'll face off with other non-Conference Regional Rivals Wellesley, MIT, and Springfield College. Should be fun!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

MIDD goes 2-1 at NESCAC Quad in Maine

What a trip. It was raining hard a good bit of the way over, and was miserable, but nothing was stopping us on our quest to knock off Bowdoin, and get our Maine weekend off to a good start. We came out ready to play, and took a very tight first game 26-24. The second game was a rare moment in sports that we hope we never repeat. We got stuck in one rotation and that was the game. We made every error in the book, and they kept the pressure on. It was awful.

We rebounded well after that fiasco, and despite losing the 3rd set, it was again very tightly contested. The 4th game opened with us fighting for every point again, and we opened up a small lead, and finished out that game ahead by 6 points to force a deciding 5th game. We showed a lot of heart and good play to force that fifth game, and once again came out firing away, and took a commanding lead of a few points for most of the 5th. We reached the pinnacle of 14-10, and then seemed to freeze up a bit. We only needed one little point to finish them off, but we seemed to be waiting for them to make the mistake, instead of us making the play to end it. Well, needless to say, they didn't make the mistake, and we didn't make the play, and they made the improbable comeback at that point to win 17-15. It was devastating, there's no other way to describe it. We did some great things, but they were hard to even remember after losing that way.

Somehow, we had to regroup for our matches the next day. Regroup we did, although, it was a bit of a struggle to get going as we dropped the first set to Bates, who hadn't won a Conference Match all season. We did regroup after that, and pulled ahead to take the next three sets, but it was pretty close most of the way. We struggled a bit to get things going, and connecting, and it just seemed that we were making it hard on ourselves. Nothing comes easy some times, but we plowed through, and took complete control in the last set against Bates, and things started to look up again.

Colby, however, proved to be a tenacious team to start out, after having taken Amherst to 5 games the night before, they were ready to battle for a win. They took an early lead on us, and kept it most of the first game. We started to get back on track with our complete game, and surged ahead to win 25-20. After that, it was all us. We got back in a groove, and they had no answer for MJ, who had 15 kills, no errors on 29 swings. Amy and Jane each had 6 kills, and Maddie and Elissa had 4, and 3 kills. We blocked very well as a team, which is always nice to see, and Elissa, Piper and MJ all had 4, and Maddie and Julia and Amy all had 3 blocks. Caitlin again led the defense with 17 digs, while Julia and Jane added 10, and 6.

We're on the road all this week, it seems. We have Plymouth State on Wednesday, and the Hall of Fame this weekend at Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges where we'll play Wellesley, MIT, and Springfield.

SENIOR Night Win!

The Skidmore Thoroughbreds were no match for our Panthers in our last home game of the season, and Senior Night! We dominated play early on, and even had the opportunity to try out a 6-2 that we haven't been able to run most of the year now.

After we introduced our two seniors, and their many accomplishments between the two of them, Julia and Amy sang the National Anthem along with the rest of the Mischords. Once play started, we cruised to an easy win in game one 25-12. Game two was more of the same, and then in the 3rd, we adjusted our lineup and had Julia and Olivia set a 6-2, and because of Courtney being out for so long now, neither of them ever gets to hit much in practice because they're both setting. We struggled a bit with the lineup that we never use even in practice, but Olivia went back to serve late in the game and finished it out at the serving line. That showed a lot of poise by our freshmen, and it was a great team win to pull out that last set when we were off kilter a bit with an unfamiliar lineup.

No one had more than 2 hitting errors all night, and everyone got in that was healthy enough to play. Julia and Amy hart had 6, and 4 serving aces respectively, and MJ led the team with 9 kills. Elissa had two blocks, and Caitlin had 17 digs for our defensive effort.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

MIDD Splits Conference Weekend at Tufts

It was a gorgeous Fall Weekend with summer-like temperatures, and lots of family around, and we were hopeful for a fun weekend. We had parents from all over, Jane's trainer who'd never seen her play before, Lauren was back to see us play, Elissa's brother, and other relatives and friends of several players. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a stumble. I don't think it compares to last year's mid-season stumble when we lost two 5 set matches back to back to both Conn and Trinity in the same afternoon, but it was painful nonetheless.

Friday night we got off to a slow start, and seemed to not be mentally dialed in, but our talent won out and we pulled out a tight, come from behind victory in set one over Conn 26-24. We rallied in the 2nd game to get back on track with our game plan, and started to run our offense and won easily while hitting a powerful .429! We were still in control in the 3rd game, but it was a bit closer as we came away with a 25-22 win to seal the match. Overall, MJ led our offense with 11 kills, and Jane and Stud added 8, and 6 kills respectively. Our hitting % for the night was .296, which is higher than usual for us, and that was great to see. We out-blocked them 12-4, and held them to a hitting % of .116.

Saturday afternoon was a different story. The positive was that we stayed in a really nice hotel, had a great "grocery store breakfast" right there in the hotel, and even got to walk to a Dunkin Donuts around the corner from our Hotel before heading back to the gym. That was where the fun ended, I think.

Tufts came out strong, and served us out of the match. They were in system all night with powerful hitters that we just couldn't contain that day. Our receive was off (is that an understatement?!), and thus we had trouble getting any offense going. As if that wasn't bad enough, Tufts was ON it. It was almost like the perfect storm brewing. We couldn't pass, thus were not able to run any kind of offense, so we gave them easy balls, and they ran their offense down our throats, which tended to put us back on our heels for the upcoming serve receive, and you see the vicious cycle developing here.

There are a few stat lines that provide some clarity: they had 41 kills to our 20; they hit .252 to our .010; we had 10 receiving errors to their 3, and they had 39 assists to our 18. We actually out-blocked them 11-10, but we seemed to do a lot more keeping it in play, than attacking the ball. Caitlin came away from the match with 19 digs as our defensive leader, and was aided by 8 digs by both Jane and Julia. We have done that very thing to teams before, and now we know what it's like to be on the other side. Once is enough, I say!

We take on Skidmore on Tuesday night for our final Home game of the season, and thus, Senior Night! It will we web cast for anyone who won't be able to be there. Match time is 7pm.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

MIDD Sweeps Home Weekend

This was the second year in a row that we swept Amherst at home! It was a great crowd, a great atmosphere, and what fun we had! We came out ready to play, and just overpowered Amherst. They may have struggled a bit, but we also just played well. We blocked about as well as we have all season, which was really great to see. We've been working on it consistently, but it's not the kind of skill that gets significantly better overnight (although, what skill does?!) Anyway, it was fun to see us have some success with something that we've been working on.

MJ and Stud led our offense, and Caitlin and MJ led our back row defense (20, 10 digs), and Julia and Elissa led our net defense (5, 7 Block Assists). Maddie and Amy Hart both had very good nights with efficient hitting percentages, and block assists as well. One of the highlights, in addition to the statistical ones, and also the WIN, was the return of Jane!! She was cleared to full practice the night before, and then was cleared to play, so she saw her first action of the year in the last game against Amherst, which brought a roar from our faithful crowd!

Since this was our only Home Weekend, the parents all brought food for us after the match, and we celebrated like it was senior night! We do love our food! We had quite the spread of food with pizza, and fruit, and desserts galore, and so many parents. Steve, our Faculty Affiliate was there with his family too, and my kids were around for a bit, and we even have a manager now, Maxmarie, who was there for a while too. She's helping us out in practice and at home matches, and it's been great to have her help! I think that everyone had at least one parent here except for Nicki and Courtney, which was a fabulous turnout. THANK YOU PARENTS! Nicki and Courtney's parents--we missed you, but in your absence, they hosted our recruit for the weekend, and did such a good job that now she's coming--yeah!

The next morning we watched as Keene State looked like they might run away with the match against Amherst before the Jeffs came back to force a 5th game, and then won! We got off to a very shaky start with nothing really being easy, nor smooth, nor sharp, and thus we lost the first game. The second was more of the same, but we almost pulled it out, but didn't. It was odd, kind of, we were just off and out of sync, and making everything look difficult. We made some substitutions, and Jane and Stud ended up with the OH positions, but it was Amy Hart who turned things around for us. She and Julia were in sync and Amy lit it up for a team high 15 kills with only 1 error on 33 swings! Julia had very good set distribution with three players in double digit kills, and three others with 7, 8, and 9 kills.

Maddie had 7 kills with only one error, and Elissa had 13 kills with 31 swings. MJ and Jane both saw some hitting errors, but ended up with close to double digit kills. Elissa had 3 solo blocks, and 3 Block Assists, and Caitlin had a team high 28 digs. Amy added on 17 digs, and Julia added 16 for two very solid defensive performances.

We've had a whole week of practices which has allowed us to lift, and do some good breakdown work, and now we're gearing up for more Conference action as we head to Tufts to play Conn and Tufts this weekend. The NESCAC is as tough as ever, and is seeming to be as deep as ever, so all these matches coming up should be great challenges, and we love a good challenge!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Team Splits at Amherst Classic

The Amherst Classic has been a great weekend of competitive volleyball for several years now, and this was no exception. Coast Guard was our first challenge, and it was a very tough, and close match. Last year we lost in 4 games, three of which we lost by two points each. This year the match was just as close, but went to 5 games. We came out well in the first game, and were in system, and swinging hard, and ended with a 25-16 win. In that first game alone, Amy had 4 kills, Stud and MJ both had 3, and Maddie had 2 kills with only 3 hitting errors between them. We were doing a nice job of mixing up our shots, and we passed pretty well. Stud exploded for 6 kills on 11 swings in the second, but we couldn't couldn't pull out the win and lost 23-25. The third was more of the same back and forth action with both teams making plays, and going on small runs, and we came out on top 26-24. The fourth saw some bigger point swings, as we dug ourselves a bit of a mid-game hole that we ran out of time to climb out of, and thus forced the 5th.

Unfortunately, we came out swinging hard, but had a few hitting errors to start the 5th, and also our serve receive hit a bump in the road, and our out of system play didn't fare so well. After getting down 4-0, we came back and tied it at 6-6 (somewhat on our good play, and somewhat on their errors). It was tied again at 8-8 before hitting our final hump where we were out-scored 7-2 to end the match. It was a disappointing loss for us for sure. Despite the fact that they are a good team, we felt like we were in control of our own destiny, but couldn't come up with the plays in that last part of the 5th game.

Some of our statistical highlights were: Stud and MJ with 18 kills each, Julia with 45 assists, Caitlin with 41 digs, and Piper with 3 blocks.

To top off our night, we were too late to eat at Whole Foods, so we ended up at Subway for dinner. However, the next morning, after sleeping in and having a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, we set off for Dunkin Donuts on our way to the gym. I'm enjoying my ice coffee almost as much as the team is these days, especially with the humidity down there! We arrived in time to watch some of Brandeis and Coast Guard play, which is always nice when you haven't seen someone play, and don't know much about them but their stats.

Olivia set the first two games against Brandeis, and did a fabulous job in her debut setting this year. I think Courtney made her feel at ease by tossing her a bucket or so of balls ahead of time and easing the "nerves" a bit, but she looked calm and cool in action! Everyone got into the game in this match, and even though a couple of the games were close, we were pretty much in control as we cruised to a 3-0 victory. MJ had 8 kills, 6 blocks, 1 service ace, and 14 digs for her line of stats. Caitlin once again led the defense with 20 digs, and also added 6 service aces. Meg and Lizzy both played well in the back row, and all three middles played solidly. Both Amy and Piper saw some action on the right side, and Nicki served well for Elissa in game three.

Once we finished, the team hit the showers, and Brian and I went to watch the rest of Amherst vs. Coast Guard. Amherst had lost the first two games, but had just come back to win the 4th when we left to go get dinner and head home. We love several of the eating establishments there in Amherst, so we typically spread out and hit our favorites, and then bring them on the bus to eat while we watch a movie on the way home. "The Devil Wears Prada" won out for the return trip, and then a sit-com I'd never heard of before (which, I imagine will continue to happen more and more the older I get?!)

All in all, it was a very good weekend. We did a lot of very nice things, which is great to see. We will continue to work on the things that we want to improve, and the things that we think we do well, and try to each improve enough individually to bring the overall level of the team up a bit each week! In addition, we keep playing different combinations slightly, and when it gels, it's really fun to watch. We are deep, despite our injuries, and many people are contributing, which is really great to see.

We have our only real Home Stretch here next week as we play at home on Wednesday night, and again on Friday and Saturday. Both the Wed. and Friday games will be webcast, for those of you that can't make it out here. Friday night is our only Home Conference match this year when we'll play Amherst at 8pm!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

MIDD Wins at Union

The team gelled last night at Union, and we controlled the play pretty much from start to finish. One of our goals going in was to serve them tough, and really challenge their receive, and their defense, and that we did. MJ had 3 service aces to go along with her 7 kills, 4 digs, and a solo block. Amy Hart had another good serving outing with 2 aces of her own, to go with 5 digs, and 3 blocks. Stud led our offense with 11 kills, while hitting .241. Julia once again ran the offense well, getting all hitters involved in the offense.

Our defense for the most part was very solid all night as Caitlin spearheaded that effort with a match high 16 digs. We really only went through a couple of relatively brief stints of "crazy play" and that corresponded to a couple of runs by Union. To give credit where it's due, when they were in system, their outsides were successful, and hit pretty well. The difference was that we were in system much more often due to our defensive effort. Meg and Lizzy combined to play back row for Stud, and Piper played well in the middle hitting at .250 for 2 kills on 8 attempts with no errors. Maddie, after joining us late to the game due to an academic commitment was ready to go and played well with 3 kills and 3 blocks, and Elissa was also solid in the middle.

Our biggest pitfall of the night came when we tried to get into Panerra for dinner right at closing time. We had called ahead, but somehow they didn't relay our message to the right person, and they were locking the door when we arrived. It just so happened that the places right there all closed at 9: Moe's (which would have been great), and Panerra (which we all really wanted.) There was a Subway somewhere close, but we couldn't seem to find it, despite everyone getting onto Google maps etc. from their "smart" phones and telling us it was "close". Anyway, we ended up at a place called "5 guys". It's a greasy burger joint that was very good quality, but it sat like a lump of lead in my stomach all the way home. For a pretty quick match, we still didn't get home until after midnight, so today came all too quickly for most of us.

After a rejuvenating pool workout today, we have one more practice before heading down to the Amherst Classic to face two tough, in-Region competitors in US Coast Guard Academy, and Brandeis. It should be a very good challenge for us as both teams are in the top 15 in the Region, as are we, so we're expecting some very competitive volleyball this weekend.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

First Conference Weekend Ended in Split

Our first Conference Weekend started out on a good note, since we could finally travel South in Vermont without having to go North first! The roads were all open, and with only a slight detour just south of Rutland before getting on Rte. 103. It had been several years since we'd been to Wesleyan, and we'd never played in their new beautiful new Facility for basketball and volleyball. After that, however, there wasn't a lot to celebrate on Friday night.

Trinity was almost the same team as last year, after losing only their Right Side to graduation, and boasting 6 seniors this year. We'd split with them last year, but had beaten them handily in the Conference Quarters, and felt good going into the match, I thought. We split the first two games, fairly evenly, but after that, it was mostly Trinity. They really only have two hitters, their outsides, and they set them everywhere on the court. You would think we could stop that, but we just didn't ever get in a groove ourselves, and despite their limited hitters, those two are very good hitters. On top of that, Trinity always plays great defense, and you always expect every ball to come back, and they usually do. The stats, however, were basically even, except for a few key areas. We had 5 more hitting errors (9-4 over the last two sets). We struggled on receive with 10 RE to their 4, and we had 4 Ball Handling Errors to their none, but otherwise, the stat lines were pretty similar. When every game is decided by 5 or less points, however, every error makes a difference.

MJ led our offense with 17 kills, while Stud added 12, and Maddie, Elissa, and Amy all had 5 each. Julia ran our offense with 40 assists, and MJ and Caitlin led our defense with 17 and 14 digs. Maddie came through with 4 Block Assists. Piper and Lizzy both saw limited action, but both came off the bench ready to go.

With their seniority, Trinity just seemed to be playing together very well, and I think we seemed to be showing some growing pains. We have shuffled things around just a bit to compensate for some injuries, and I think we just were not quite in a "groove" for lack of a better explanation. In that light, however, we found our groove on Saturday. Saturday dawned a new day, and after a stop at our beloved Dunkin Donuts, we headed for the gym, armed with many an ice coffee, ready for a new challenge.

Despite our caffeine rush, we lost the first game to Wesleyan, but were undaunted in our quest for a victory. In game one, we struggled in serve receive on one particular server, and we got in a rut, and dug a hole, and had trouble climbing out. After that first game, however, we put on a serving show of our own, or should I say, Amy Hart put on a show! Amy had 7 service aces to go along with Julia's 4, to easily overcome their one hot server who had 6 aces against us. We were scrappy, and kept balls in play that had dropped the night before, and we out-blocked them, which was great to see. Our top three hitters (Amy-14, Stud-13, and MJ-10) all hit .380 or better, which is fantastic. Julia ran a varied, and balanced offense which saw us dominate the last three sets not allowing Wesleyan to score more than 15 points in any of those sets.

It's always nice to get a win before getting back on the bus for home. It was Piper's Birthday, too, so the captains had made her a cake, someone brought a balloon, and parents brought goodies, snacks, and dinner for the ride home! We had sandwiches, cookies, homemade salads, cupcakes, cake--needless to say, we do love our food, and fortunately for us, the parents know their kids well and provide us with many wonderful meals. We didn't get our furry hugs and kisses this time, but we'll see Maggie and Chloe again, I'm sure. The Barrett's dogs are like team mascots of sorts!

We hit the court again on Tuesday at Union.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Home Opener a Success

Wednesday and Thursday this week were gorgeous VT Fall days. It was warm and sunny with a hint of "Fall smell" to the air. As I walked to the Library to get an extra camera for our Web Casts (yeah!), I noticed that the lawn outside the Library has been covered with flags to remember the victims of 9/11. Despite the sadness, it's very good to remember, and it was a beautiful, yet somber picture.

Now, for our first home match, it wasn't exactly a pretty one, but a win is a win. AND, everybody played, which was great. Norwich had some decent defense, but couldn't come up with very much offense against us last night as we cruised to a 3-0 win. We started off a bit slow with a fairly tight first game which saw us make quite a few unforced errors. After that, we settled at least a little more into a groove. Courtney was distributing the ball around before having to leave the match with an ankle injury early in the 3rd. Julia set most of that last game, but she and Olivia briefly played a 6-2, while Amy hit for Olivia. MJ, Stud, Meg, and Lizzy all played outside, and I think all came up with at least one block, which was great to see. Piper, Maddie and Elissa were all solid in the Middle, and Julia played every role possible, I think. She was very solid in serve receive until we moved her to setting, and she set well after that, and played pretty good defense too. Caitlin and Nicki both played well on defense in the libero spot. We had a mixed serving night with several aces, but also several bad misses to go with them. We're looking forward to some good competition this weekend as we open up our Conference Play with Trinity on Friday night, followed by Wesleyan on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

First Road Trip Ends in Split

It was our first road trip of the new season, and unfortunately, we couldn't take our whole team. Nevertheless, we were prepared to play, and play we did on our first day. I guess we were desperate for game action because we extended both of our first day matches to 5 games each. We started out with a tough 5 game loss to St. Mary's of MN. Our first two games were not that pretty, as we clearly were in first-game-of-the-season mode. Fortunately, we got on track and won the next two games fairly handily. We did not come out to start the 5th very strongly, and thus lost that last set, which was a big bummer since we had finally gotten on track, but couldn't quite pull out the win. It was fun to play a solid team from another Region, though, and it was a good test for us. Without Jane, we had the duo of Sarah Studwell, and Meg Anderson playing the front row/back row combo at OH, along with MJ. We had Maddie and Elissa in the middle, and Court setting with Julia playing RH.

Next we had Endicott, whom we had lost to in 5 games last year to start the season. It was a pretty even match all the way through, but as we were entering the 5th game, Elissa was in pain with a throbbing hand. As I looked down at it, it was black and blue, and bulging out around a fairly tight tape job after having jammed her thumb in practice on Thursday. We sent her to the bench, and went with our secret weapon in the Middle: Studwell! We practiced her there some last year, and because of her athleticism and quickness, she was well equipped to handle the challenge. We were in a tight battle in the 5th, but we emerged with the late lead, and hung on to finish out with the win! Stud did a nice job as a very undersized (in comparison to their middles) middle hitter/blocker, and came up with a couple big plays. It was a great team win, with Amy Hart and Meg Anderson combining to play OH, and Stud in the Middle, so that 9 of our 10 players that were dressed all played in the match.

After sleeping in and having a leisurely breakfast, we headed back to the gym to watch a bit of the UMass Boston vs. Salve match, since we'd play both those teams later. UMass looked pretty much the same as last year, and we were very excited to play them. We started out fine, and had a close, back and forth first set. After that, however, the wheels seemed to come off. Courtney was having feet troubles, thus affecting her control, which eventually sent her to the bench in pain. Julia switched roles to become the setter, and Amy played RH, and that seemed like it could work, but we just couldn't get anthing going our way, and ended up losing the next two sets badly.

For Salve, however, we got into a groove, and even though I think we were a more talented team, I think we showed a lot of poise and heart to win that one in three straight sets. After winning the first set 28-26, we cruised to a couple of sets keeping them in the teens. Salve was scrappy and tenacious, and kept coming at us, but Julia did a great job setting, and the hitters all started to get into a rhythm, more or less, and we started to play some MIDD VB. So, we have some work for poor Rachel (our trainer), but hopefully we'll get everyone healthy and ready to go again soon!! Nicki was our only Rookie to come and see action so far this season, and that was great to see.

We had some great parent support again, which was fun! We also had a visit from the Barrett Puppies, at different stages of puppy-hood, as can be seen in the pics. I'm not sure who was loving it more, the players hugging the puppies, or the puppies being bathed in all the attention from the players?! We, once again, ate well on the ride home with "The Sandwiches" from Caitlin's mom, and pies and deserts from Julia, Stud, Caitlin, & MJ. We put it all on the bus and ate on the way, which was great since we had to go up to Burlington before coming south again to MIDD due to all the washed out roads everywhere. With 5 hours each way on the bus, having food and good movies is a must! :)

We hit the court again on Wednesday night for our Home Opener against Norwich University.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Missing our Freshmen

While we are leaving on our first road trip of the season, our freshmen will be registering for their classes this semester, and finishing up with Orientation. We ended up with four "Rookies" this year, but since Nicki was a Feb, she's already signed up for classes, and has already had her own Orientation last February, so she gets to come with us. We'll get a good picture of all our Rookies later on, but we thought we'd just highlight our three freshmen here: from left to right: Piper, Olivia, and Lizzy, and say, we're bummed you couldn't come with us to Endicott!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Welcome to the TEAM

We started off the season over a week ago with a mini workshop of sorts so that we could discuss team culture, what defines a team, and what goes along with being a member of a team, among other things. During that meeting, several new ideas came up, and one of them in particular seemed to resonate with the people, especially our captains. This year they decided to have a "presentation" of sorts to everyone on the team, once the team was chosen. We had a lot of competition this year for preseason, so once the coaches made our final decisions, the team was pared down to 14 from the original 18 that tried out. The competition was stiff, and everyone worked really hard, but we had to get down to a smaller number.

Jane and Elissa designed this ceremony on their own, and it was really great. They had everyone on the team hang out in the locker room while they got it ready, and then led them into the gym and out onto the end line of center court.
They then presented each person, one by one, with their game jersey, an MCVB sticker, and a green shoelace to represent our commitment to being a "Green Team" this year. They played inspirational (or fun cheesy, depending on how you look at it!) music, and announced everyone's name, hometown and number and had them come out to center court where they were presented with their uniform. A new tradition was born, I think, and I really liked it! Welcome to the TEAM!!

OH, and Brian brought his usual stash of goodies. What has become a real treat to the team, and was a total surprise, but a happy revelation to the Rookies was Brian's donation to the team of some samples and/or seconds from his work. We are all well stocked on our lip balm of all kinds, thanks to Brian's generosity!! Thank you, Brian!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pre Season Fun

This year's freshmen got to experience a real preseason that has been missed by the last two classes here at MIDD. The past two years Orientation for First Years has started the same day as preseason, which was a bummer for all of us. They were torn between getting to know their teammates and hanging out with their freshmen hall mates. Or, as most will say, they wanted to hang out with the team, but come November, people on their hall were saying, "Who are you?" or "I didn't even know you lived here!"

This year, the first years got to hang out entirely with the team until Tuesday night, when Orientation started, which was great. We were able to do a community service outing to help with Hurricane Relief, and we also had the chance to get into the pool. This is always a fun activity for everyone, and I always get a kick out of watching them frolic in the pool. This time it wasn't even a "sort-of" workout, it was strictly for fun! (I'm sorry the picture is a little blury. I think my new smart phone isn't as "smart" as it's supposed to be?!)

Team Helps with Irene Clean-up

Hurricane Irene hit Vermont especially hard. While the College sustained little to no damage, there was wide-scale damage in almost every direction. The mountain towns were hit especially hard, some being cut off from the rest of the world by bridges and roads leading into and out of town being washed out. Many of the Fall Athletes put aside preseason practices to go and help our neighbors in need.

The amount of help needed was tremendous, and the emails were going out in all directions asking for any assistance. I was approaching my captains to talk about it when they asked me if there was anything that we could do as a team to help out. Now, that's leadership!

Cross country and Field Hockey had the morning shifts taken care of, so we practiced in the morning, and then set out after lunch. Our team was split into two groups and sent to different locations to help clean up brush and debris, and help get houses cleaned up that had mud and water pouring through them only days before.

It was a very rewarding experience, by all accounts. It's amazing what many hands can do in a short amount of time, and their help was greatly appreciated. The groups had to come back across the mountain to get home, and part of Route 125 had been washed away and was down to one lane. They'd been cleared on the way over, but as it was nearing the late afternoon, the road was closing again. It had been opened specially for emergency vehicles, and those helping with the Hurricane Relief, but there was some miscommunication on the way home.

Our first group got through with a convoy of emergency vehicles and other Aid workers. The other group had been working farther away, and was later coming back, and got stranded with half the football team, and Head Football Coach, Bob Ritter. Fortunately, someone came to let them all through, and everyone made it back to campus safely.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

2011 Pre-season Starts with BBQ

2011 Pre-season started with a BBQ at my house. It was a nice, relaxed cookout with all the players and lots of parents. It gave the returners time to not only catch up, but also start to get to know the new players. It's a large group this year for pre-season, which is great, so there were a lot of new faces. Fortunately, Hurricane Irene had already come and gone, as had our power outage and flooded road, so everyone had a clear (or pretty clear) road out to the house. OK, there may have still been some water covering the road, but not entirely. Stud checked it out for everyone and guided them through the couple inches of water still there, and around the "road closed" barricade.

Courtney caught us up a bit on her summer where she befriended her new 7 year old neighbor who is having to undergo a bone marrow transplant now. The pink tee shirt in the photo is for "EMMA." She'll have to be in the hospital for quite a while, and Courtney has been by her side most of the summer. While it was hard for Court to leave her new friend facing such a serious and painful ordeal, she asked the team to sign a shirt to send to Emma to let her know that we are all thinking about her! We'll keep tabs on Emma and give updates. I have a feeling that Emma may become a new fan of our Blog so she can keep tabs on Courtney and the rest of the team!

Steve Oster, our Faculty Affiliate, was able to attend with his family, which was really great. It's always nice for the new players to meet Steve, and for he and the upperclassmen to have a chance to hang out informally. His wife and three girls were here as well, in addition to my Assistant, Brian and his wife and two daughters, and my husband and three kids, so we had quite a houseful.

We are two days into practices now, and feeling like there's just not enough time for everything, but then the cry came out for some assistance, and the team stepped up to the plate. We took the afternoon off today to help with Irene Relief Aid over in Hancock and Rochester--two mountain towns who sustained a lot of storm damage, not to mention road closures that practically cut them off from the rest of the world. I was about to tell the captains about the emails I was getting about desperately needing volunteer workers when they asked if there was anything that they could to do to help with the relief efforts.

Almost every Fall Sports Team has been out helping clear brush, clean up houses and property and debris all over the place. Some towns are still cut off from the outside world by washed out bridges leading into and out of town. Fortunately, Middlebury was mostly spared from the major storm damage, but our neighbors were not as lucky. I'll update soon with hopefully some photos, but we almost had a group stranded on the other side of the mountain tonight....but they're BACK! Everyone enjoyed helping out, and their help was very much appreciated. :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Reunion 2011!

It's June, and at MIDD, that means Reunion Time! It's been about the soggiest Spring in VT on record, but Reunion Weekend was as nice as it could be. I had a fabulous time catching up with Jamie Wong '06! We sat outside of Proctor on the terrace in the sun and caught up on life. We did laugh about old times, and reminisce a bit, but we also had fun catching up on what's new for both of us.

She reported that she keeps in touch with Katy Hicks '05 in CA, who is currently in Med School, and also with several other MIDD VB alums. She met Reisa Bloch'10 (and they figured out they both wore the same jersey # while at MIDD!), and sees Lindsay Patterson '09.5, Lacee Patterson Phillips '07.5, and Evan Kanaly Herberts '03, but has yet to meet Blair Sly '01, so we'll have to work on that! Word has it that Lexie Fisher '08.5 is moving back to CA, so she will join the CA contingent of VB alums as well.

Jamie is as fit as can be, and has trained for varying races like half-marathons, triathlons, and even mentioned the words: Olympic Distance, and Iron Man in conversation!! Wow!! She's back in San Francisco working with her dad in the exporting business, but is also going back to grad school to get her MBA, and likely also her Realtor's License, just for fun. She's happy and healthy, and it was so great to see her smiling face back on campus!!

In other alumnae news, I just found out that Katie Kenney Enslin '03 had her first baby--a girl. Congratulations to her and her husband on starting their family, other than their "first" baby, Cash, the dog. We wish you the best, Katie and family!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lauren Graduates; Whitney wins Dept. Honor

I think this is the rainiest Spring in VT history, or it sure feels like it has to be. About the best thing that can be said about the weather, however, is that somehow, it wasn't raining for Graduation, thank goodness! Lauren graduated, if not under a beautfiul blue sky, at least it wasn't under an umbrella.

During the week leading up to Graduation we gathered in Mead Chapel for our Athletic Department Awards ceremony. Lauren and I were there to recieve Whitney's award: the Hazeltine-Klevenow Award, honoring a senior for best combining ability in athletics and excellence in scholarship. Congratulations to both Whitney and Lauren for their four years of dedication to both Middlebury and our Volleyball Team. We will miss you both very much.

Whitney did come back for the graduation ceremony this weekend, but did not walk with the graduates. Connor's brother was among the graduates, as was Stud's sister, and Lacee Philips Patterson's brother-in-law. What a surprise to see Lacee! She's doing well in California, and made the very quick trip out for the festitivites before red-eyeing back to work today! It was great to see her, and a fun bonus.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Green Feats--what is that?!

Anyone recognize these sneaks?

Here is what was on the MIDD site about Green Feats:

"It's as easy as tying your shoes. Make a promise to the planet. Then show your support by lacing up with green. Here's ten athletes that did it. They are green athlete liaisons, and they and others--representing every Middlebury sports team--will be working during Earth Day weekend, starting April 22, to promote a sustainable culture in athletics. Along with Nordic Sking Head Coach Andrew Gardner, they'll be collecting people's pledges to the environment and handing out green laces to remind them of their promises. The idea is inspired by founder and professional soccer player Natalie Spilger who says, 'It's time we stop only representing our sponsors and start representing our values.'

These athletes are doing it. Are you?"

Here is the link so you can see all the athletes' shoes:

Click the link, and you'll get to find out who's shoes these are, and what her promise was! We're proud of you, #11! :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Elissa Blogs from New Zealand!

I've heard from both Jane and Elissa a couple of times, and know they're enjoying themselves, but have yet to get a good, comprehensive update on what they've been doing down there. However, Elissa did start a blog to share her experiences, so thanks Elissa! Here is the link: Also, Caroline is in Italy, but I haven't heard much from her recently, so I'll take that to mean that she's having a fabulous time! :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Alum Updates

OK, I've been in touch with several people over the course of the Fall/Winter, so I'll see if I can summarize what's going on with people from whom I've heard.

Amy Lowell ('01) was out west this past summer for her brothers wedding and had a reunion of sorts with a fellow teammate Anne McDonough ('99), who is friends with the bride. After spending the summer under the Western sun, Amy decided she liked it enough to make the move! She up and moved to Boulder, CO and is getting settled out West after living in New England her whole life! She's excited about the change, and is settling into a new job in occupational therapy and is loving all the fun outdoor activities her new environment has to offer. Before she left the East, however, she got to visit with her old pal, Leslie Edwards ('01) in Manhattan. She reports that Les is doing great and is happily married and enjoying life there. Once in CO, Amy hopes to catch up with Dawn Trowbridge Marsh ('00) who lives in nearby Fort Collins and works in a bank and enjoys spending time with her two kids, Tanner and Cadence. I'm actually hoping to catch up with Dawn when I go recruiting in the Denver area for the CO Crossroads tournament. 

Blair Sly ('01) is still in California running his own business and coaching volleyball on the side. He's now coaching only the boys varsity at The College Prep School in Oakland, after a few years coaching both boys and girls. His varsity team has won League 3 or 4 years in a row now, which is a testament to his coaching abilities as he took over a young program. He said this about coaching his team: "It's so fun to show up at tournaments with [our] dorky name ("The College Prep School") and take out huge public schools." He said he hasn't kept in touch all that well with many alums, but did say that he was sad to have missed old pal Leslie Edwards' wedding. His girlfriend may bring him East, and if so, we hope we get to see him again one of these days.

Katie Kenney Enslin ('03) had a lot of news in her Holiday card. She's happy living in MN with native hubby, and dog Cash. However, the family will soon grow as baby Enslin is due in May! She keeps in close touch with pal Evan Kanaly Herberts ('03), who had a new baby this past Fall. Congrats to both of you with your expanding families! Katie was in her first triathlon this summer too, so a lot going on for "Kato," as my young daughter used to call Katie! Since living in MN, Katie has been known to fish for Bass, make Sauerkraut, and other "Midwestern" pasttimes. It warms my heart to think of her making her life in the good ole' Midwest, although we miss seeing her out here. We did, however, get to see her parents this Fall. They were our loyal fans from the past! It was great to see them at (I think) all three of our NESCAC Tournament matches! At least the semi-finals and finals. Thank you so much, Kenney's!! We love the support! :)

Luz Brito Pena ('04) had a little baby boy last summer and they made a trip to VT to visit and to show her husband around Midd! Little Kevin is adorable, and they're all doing great. Luz is teaching at her HS Alma mater and enjoys the challenges of working with HS age students.

Danielle Boniello Gannett('04) has a new job that could be her dream job working in marketing for a Hotel & Resort company.
She doesn't have to commute into the city anymore, which is great for her! She's still working toward a business degree in her "spare time," so she's keeping herself very busy. Danielle keeps tabs on us through her mother-in-law, whose daughter is playing volleyball, so she's up on who's doing what in Northeast Volleyball.

Lindsay Patterson ('08.5) is living in San Fransisco with Reisa Bloch (09.5). Reisa is working for the Gap still--yes, the job she got when she missed our final NESCAC game a couple years ago (reinforcement of a wise decision!) Lindsay is taking classes in preparation for PT school, and will apply next Fall. She's loving life in San Fran, but she enjoyed visiting Lexie Fisher ('08) in NYC not long ago. She said it was great to visit friends, and catch up with their lives, but after she returned she commented that she was "reminded that I love NYC, but I could never live there."

Sister Lacee Patterson Phillips(06.5) also lives in San Fran now with new hubby and Cooper (the dog), and is teaching 5th grade at a KIPP school. She's involved with Starlings Volleyball Club, which helps provide opportunities for girls to get involved with volleyball regardless of thier socioeconomic background, which is fantastic. Lacee commented that she and fellow alums in San Fran Georgia Jolink ('06), and Jamie Wong ('06) were anxiously following our progress through the season last year. Along with raising a puppy, Lacee is also "hooked" on doing triathlons, which is actually no surprise to any of us that know Lacee--good for you, Lacee, and enjoy those excruciating training workouts! :)
Mallory White ('10) moved back to CO after graduation and is working for the El Pomar Foundation in Colorado Springs. She's enjoying being back in CO, but keeps tabs on her pals still here in MIDD and was very excited about our season. She was recently back on campus for Whit's Feb Graduation, as was Natalie DuPre ('10), who's currently working in Boston.

Molly Elmer-Dewitt ('10) had a lot to report on her life in Chicago. She's living with sister Kitty in a "lovely apartment in [a] Ukrainian village." She's interning in the prevention department of a non-profit before heading into Med School. To help pay the rent, she's also a waitress at a "snazzy new sushi restaurant." Of course, Molly had great stories to share about her current experiences in the prevention department, and for anyone that read her blog while she was in Africa, you know she's got a gift there! Molly is still running (of course), and trained this Fall for a marathon. I'm not sure I heard from her afterwards?! I do believe that Molly still holds the VB team record for the preseason mile?....

OK, thanks to all of you for the updates, and please keep us posted!! Enjoy!