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.