Sunday, September 30, 2012

MIDD Sweeps NESCAC Weekend at Home

Our first of two home weekends went very well, which was fun!  We had some exciting things going on with both the team, and also with some external factors.  Middlebury College Alexander Twilight Artist in Residence was on hand both Friday night and again Saturday afternoon to grace us all with his singing of the National Anthem.  What a treat!!  He's had both Lizzy and Nicki in class, and really wanted to come out and support them (and us!).  Despite being sick this week, he came out both days, which was a real treat for all of us. 

Our match with Colby on Friday night was a very typical Conference Match.  We outplayed them in the first set by very strong play both defensively and offensively.  Despite having three service errors to only one ace, we came up with only ONE hitting error in the first set, and that led us to a 25-14 first set victory.

The next set proved to be quite a battle!  We got down early by scores of 1-6, 7-13, and 14-20.  It wasn't looking good for us, and they were playing well, and we were not coming up with the blocks or the digs to stop them, and we weren't having the offensive success that we'd had in the first set either.  We closed to scores of 18-22, and 20-23 before tying the game for the first time at 23 after a badly needed three point string.  We continued the string one more point to give us our first game point at 24-23, but they would tie it up three consecutive times as each time we had game point but couldn't convert.  Then two kills, one by MJ, and the next by Olivia put us up 2 games to 1 on a real nail-biter of a second game!

Colby had a lot of fight left in them, and didn't seem daunted at all by the fact that we just almost stole that last game from after they'd led almost the entire game by as much as 6 points for quite a bit.  The 3rd game was within two points for most of the time.  The largest margin was 4 when Colby led 15-11, and the rest of the game was back and forth the entire way.  It was a great battle with both teams coming up with big digs, and several long rallies.  We felt like our offense was more powerful, but it seemed that every time we got our offense running, and seemingly crush the ball, they would come up with big defensive plays and just keep the ball in play!  The score was tied at every point from 19-19 to 24-24 before Colby finally took two points in a row on a block, and then an unforced hitting error by us to win that set 26-24.

The last game was more like the first in that we got our offense really clicking again, aided by very solid defensive performances and good serve receiving.  In this game we once again had only one hitting error, and only one receiving error.  We closed out the win with a stuff block by Olivia and Maddie.  Everyone played at least one game as 3 different people went in to serve for Piper, and all were great contributors to the win.  Both Meg and Stud played very solid defense on the night in the back row, so it was very much a total team effort!  It was a match that saw us have two games with only one hitting error each, 10 service errors on the night, 16 total blocks, and a team hitting % of .239, and a reception rating of 2.38.  Those have been two of our goals (to be above .200 hitting, and above 2.0 on reception), and we surpassed both, which was great, despite the up and down nature of the match overall.

Saturday afternoon we played Bates College, and we had another fun surprise in that the PEP Band showed up to play.  They played a bit during the lineups, and during timeouts and between games, and it made for a fun atmosphere.  Once again, Francois graced us with his singing, and he even felt much better, which was very good to see!!  Also, both Nicki and Charlotte showed up back on our bench, which made our team complete again!  Nicki has been very sick of late, and Charlotte is hopefully on the mend after her illness, but will still be out of action for a while, but it was great to get her back on the bench!  Hopefully Nicki will be back in practice this week!!  Today, however, it was Bates that came out strong, and took the first game 25-23.  On paper, it may have looked like we were the better team, but then that's why you actually PLAY the games!  It was very close most of that first game.  We took a lead of 14-9 early on, but they held the leads later in the game going up 20-16, and 22-18.  We battled back to 23-24, but couldn't come up with the tie and they took the first set on a hitting error on our side.

The next set was more of the same, unfortunately.  We traded points almost literally the whole game until they took a slim lead 19-17 and carried that up to 24-21 lead before we battled back and took the next 5 points in a row to win 26-24.  We showed extreme poise during that run, and I think they may have gotten a little tight and were trying to finesse some shots while we just stayed aggressive and with our game plan, but it was a huge turn of events for us to win that game after being down 3 game points, any of which would have put us down 0-2 in the match.

We then really started to click, and put our full game together, and saw our offense come alive, and our defense wasn't allowing any of the off-speed, or back row attacks to drop!  Our ball control was very good and allowed our offense to get rolling.  We closed out the match by taking the next two games 25-16, and 25-14 to seal the weekend sweep of NESCAC foes!  Our hitting % soared to .319 against Bates with three hitters with double digit kills in Amy, MJ and Maddie with 17, 12, and 10 respectively.  Julia Gibbs once again had a superb night with 7 kills and only 1 error (.462), 33 assists, and 20 digs.  Along with Julia, Caitlin and Amy and Stud anchored our defense with 17, and 15 and 9 digs.  Kathryn came in to set the 6-2 again and tallied 24 assists and 12 digs.  Piper carried us defensively at the net with half of our team blocks to her credit.

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