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.