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!!

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