Sunday, October 28, 2012

MIDD Wins Last Two--Takes 2nd Seed for NESCAC's

What a weekend!  We had two of our toughest Conference opponents coming to our gym on the last weekend of the regular season, and thus a lot at stake in terms of Conference Seeding for the Tournament.  AND, we celebrated Senior Day on Saturday!

We played Bowdoin on Friday night, and to start us out on the right note, Piper's mom sang the National Anthem.  Now, I know she's a professional, and I don't know much about music, but when the first note came out of her mouth, (pun intended), I was in awe.  SHE ROCKED THE HOUSE!!  It was absolutely amazing, and set the tone for what was to come.  We jumped out to an early lead 14-2, and never looked back as we totally dominated the first set 25-13.

The second set Bowdoin took an early lead, but we'd tied it at 10-10.  Then they built another lead and got up by as much as 12-17.  We fought back to make it at least respectable, but lost 19-25.  The last two sets were both very close, as both teams were battling back and forth.  Early on it was back and forth with us holding a point or two lead off and on until we took a 5 point lead at 13-8.  Bowdoin then fought back to tie it up at 16, 17, and 18 all.  We then went on a run with Julia serving that put us up 21-18 and would go on to win that set 25-21.

The last set was tight the entire way with 14 tied scores throughout the set with both teams taking turns at going up by a point or two along the way.  They had their first set point of the evening when Maddie got a solo block to tie the score at 24-24.  Amy rotated to the back to serve, and immediately got an ace, and then the next point MJ got a kill to win the match!

We played well, and felt good about the match.  We were having our Senior/Parent's Weekend Dinner after the match, so it was a festive atmosphere, which was great.  And, the home crowd was awesome!  I usually don't even notice the crowd, but I couldn't help but notice it this time, and that was a great atmosphere, especially for the seniors on their last weekend at home!  In addition to a good student fan base, we had a ton of our parents here this weekend, most of whom are in this picture here, thanks to our Team Photographer, Craig Jarchow!  If you haven't checked out his photos, you should definitely do so because they are amazing!!  Click here for Craig's photos!  The parents once again put out a spread of food that was unbelievable.  We had pans of yummy pasta, salads, Halloween goody bags filled with all kinds of fun things.  We also had cupcakes galore, and we even had the special pecan pie from Texas!! It doesn't get much better than all that!  We couldn't really celebrate our win too much, however, because we had another big match the next day with Tufts coming for a 2pm match, but we did enjoy all being together.  Steve came with his whole family to the dinner, and with so many parents, it was very festive.  Even after beating Bowdoin, we still could have ranged anywhere from 1st to 6th seed for the Tournament, which was hard to imagine, but that's how close the NESCAC was this year.

Saturday was the day the seniors had decided they wanted to celebrate Senior Day.  Our Seniors also wanted to start a new tradition this year by honoring the Seniors of our Opponent, so before the match, our seniors gave the Tufts seniors little teddy bears with blue and brown ribbons around their necks.  It was a well-received token of appreciation, and I think a new tradition was born for Senior Day.  (The Amherst Dad who gave us the leis two years in a row is really the inspiration for this gesture, but our seniors mentioned wanting to "pay it forward.")  For the Senior Celebration, our juniors (and underclassmen) decorated the gym on Friday with posters and pictures of the seniors, which was really fun!

With it being our last home match, Julia and Amy got their a capella group, the Mischords to come and sing the National Anthem with them, which was very fun.  Julia is the music coordinator, and leads the group, and they got Nicki to hold the microphone for them (see bottom of picture.)  Another great way to set the tone for our match--nice job, Mischords!  The 1st set was tight the whole way, getting tied up at 18-18.  We took a 22-18 lead after a side out with an ace from Julia and two kills by MJ.  They'd close to 22-20 before we pulled away for the win, and finished the set out with an ace by Lizzie.  The second set saw us get out to an early lead of 6-1 and we never looked back.  We had leads of 14-5, and 19-10.  Julia finished the set with 2 aces to win 25-13.

The last set was again very close early with back and forth scores that were tied at 8-8.  We went up 15-10, and then pulled away to a 21-14 lead, but Tufts wouldn't go away.  They closed to within 4, but couldn't get any closer as we closed out the match 25-20.  With the win, we finished 8-2 in NESCAC, and Tufts fell to 6-4.  8-2 tied us for 1st place with Conn and Bowdoin, but since Conn had beaten both of us head to head, they got the #1 seed, and hosting privileges, while we took the #2 seed by having beaten Bowdoin the night before.  As it all shook out, we will play Trinity as the #7 seed down at Conn next Friday night at 5pm.  Click here for the link to NESCAC.

Now, with the Tropical Storm of the Ages looming, I thought it would be good to get outside and enjoy the nice weather while I could.  I enjoyed some good Fall Fun watching the kids raking the bid leaf pile, jumping in and practically getting buried under all the leaves! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

MIDD Goes 2-1 at HOF Tournament

The Hall of Fame Tournament has now become a time to have some great cross-Conference match-ups with some of the best competition in New England.  We played Wellesley, Brandeis, and Springfield.  Both Wellesley and Springfield are in the top 5 in the Regional Rankings for New England.  We were excited to play all three, knowing it would be great competition leading up to our last Conference Weekend, not to mention just plain fun to play some of the best non-Conference teams in our Region!  To start out our trip on a good note, despite the pouring rain, Charlotte came by to give us a travel gift.  She's not quite ready to travel with us again, but in her absence, she left us with a huge box of candy!!  Well, that was a fun surprise!!  Thanks Charlotte!  WE loved the candy, but we'd really like YOU back with us, so hopefully that will happen soon!

On Friday night, we took on the Wellesley Blue.  We knew they'd been #1 in NE for a fair part of the season, but had recently lost to Bowdoin.  We started out the match well, and they never really got going.  We knew they had a potent offense, but they made a lot of errors early on, and we played well and didn't allow them get going at all.  They couldn't seem to do anything to contain our offense, and without their offense going, we led pretty much from start to finish in the first set.  The second set was closer in the end, but we got out to leads of 18-12, and 22-15 before they staged a comeback.  They started to get going, and got a couple of runs together to pull within 2 at 24-22 before Maddie put an end to that with a solo block for set point.  What proved to be the final set was the tightest set of the match, and was evenly contested most of the way. We held slim leads early on, and then after leading 10-9 we went on a run that put us up 17-10.  They came back with small runs to close the gap to 22-16 before scoring 6 straight to tie it at 22 all.  We'd go up by one point two more times before finishing the match on an MJ kill for the 3-0 win!  Julia had 8 kills and only 1 error, and MJ had 11 kills, no errors on 15 swings.  Amy added 10 kills, and Piper added 6.  Kathryn had 11 assists per set, which is fantastic.

It would be an quick turn around as we played at 9am the next morning, so we ordered pizza and salad to be delivered to the bus, and we ate on the way to our hotel.  The next morning we met for breakfast at 6:45am, and still managed to make our beloved detour to Dunkin Donuts for our morning wake up!  Even I needed some caffeine that morning, and I don't always get the caffeine because it can give me the jitters, but it was a welcome sight Saturday morning.  We also had a "guest" on the trip with us as my daughter Lois made the travel squad as we call it in our family.  That had never happened before, but she had the time of her life hanging with the team, and it all worked out well.  This weekend was also Meg's birthday weekend, just like last year at this Tournament.  Meg's parents offered to bring us lunch between matches, so we all got a treat to some great food (much better than when I grocery shop for the team!), and we even had birthday cupcakes for after the final match!

To start the day, we played Brandeis at Mt. Holyoke College.  They play in an even tougher Conference than NESCAC, and so their record isn't that great, but we knew they'd be a good challenge as their record in NE was actually very good.  We controlled the tempo of the match in the first set from start to finish and won 25-19.  The second set was very tight with us trailing by 1-2 points early on.  We were tied at 8-8, and again at 21-21 where we pulled ahead by a point or two and held on to win 25-23.  The last set we got an early lead, only to lose it all.  We were up 12-11 before we pulled ahead for good at 17-11, and went on to win 25-16 for the 3-0 match win.  We then hopped straight on the bus to head over to Smith College for our final match of the day against Springfield College.  Williams had lost to them in 5 just as we were arriving at the gym.

We enjoyed our lunch courtesy of Meg's parents (THANK YOU, Andersons!), and then got to watch some of Bowdoin play MIT before having to get focused on our next game.  We knew that Springfield would be a great match, especially after hearing them go 5 with Williams.  We came out ready to play and had a very tight, back and forth first set that saw us trail for a good part of the first set, but only by a couple of points.  Then we'd tie it up, and then go down by a few points before tying it up again.  We took our final lead that we wouldn't give up at 19-18, and went on to take the first game 25-21.  They would go on to take the next two games, both tightly contested.

The 2nd set we got down by a few early, and trailed the entire set by 2-3 points, and that would be final margin.  The 3rd set was more of the same as we trailed for the entire set and lost 18-25. We fought back to take the 4th set by taking an early lead of our own this time, and never giving it up.  We got up 8-3, only to see them get within 2 at 10-8.  Then again we got up 19-12 before they came back to within 1 at 21-20.  Our receive was struggling a bit, and we brought in Meg to try to settle that, and we hung on to force the 5th set behind some fierce play by Maddie Firestone who came up with a big block with MJ to put us up 23-21.  Kathryn then dumped to put us up 24-21 before Maddie finished the set with a kill.

There was a mass exodus to the bathroom before that 5th set, but it was so hot that everyone was drinking a lot of water, I guess.  The last set was unfortunate for us because we again dug ourselves a hole that we just didn't have time to pull out of in the short final set.  We got down 0-4 early, and then 2-9.  We actually tied it up 10-10 after going on a run of our own, and then got down by 1-2 until they took the final point for the 12-15 win.

It was a great match, and I think we all felt it was very competitive.  We know there are things that we just didn't do all that well, and many things that we did very well, so we'd all welcome another opportunity to play them again, but we know that wouldn't be until the NCAA's if at all.  MJ was honored by being named to the All-Tournament team for her efforts this weekend, which was nice.  Congrats MJ!!  I think she got a long sleeve tee in recognition of that.  They don't do the free uniforms for the winner anymore, since they changed the format, but we enjoyed wearing our free set of jerseys that we'd won at this tournament a few years ago!  All in all, it was a very successful weekend of volleyball, and one that should be very good preparation for our last two regular season matches against Bowdoin and Tufts on Friday and Saturday night at home in Pepin!!  That will conclude the regular season, and then it'll be on to the NESCAC Championships, but we won't know where that'll be held until after all the games this coming weekend.  Very exciting time of the season...

MIDD Takes Plymouth in 3

I'm a bit behind with this entry, but we had our last home mid-week match last Wednesday when we played Plymouth State for the second time this season.  The first time we played them it was our first weekend of play, and we were without our freshmen, so I'd say we looked much different this time around.  In that original match, we beat them in 4 sets, but it didn't take that much this time as we came out and dominated the match from start to finish.  We hit very well on the night as our team hitting % was .307.  MJ, Amy and Piper all hit over .400, which was fantastic.  Kathryn had over 10 assists per game as she's continued to run our offense very well after taking over the reigns full time when Julia was out.  We earned the victory by scores of 25-9, 25-15, 25-19, and several people came off the bench to contribute to the win!  It was a quick match, lasting only just over an hour.  After this, we had a day to prepare for the Hall of Fame Tournament over the weekend featuring some of the best competition in New England.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

MIDD Splits Conference Weekend

Well, we missed the Dalai Lama's talks on campus, which was really too bad, but I did take a picture of Nelson being set up for his visit.  We are able to view his talks on-line through the college website, so not all was lost by missing out on all the activity and aura of his visit.  Click here for more on his visit:

After all, this was a big weekend for us as well--I mean, we left for Conference Matches so His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama could take over the entire Athletic Complex!  We felt like we were playing our part, in a small way.

Despite the fact that it is only the middle of October, it turned out to be the last home matches for Amherst.  I think we were at Amherst last year for Senior Night, too, only we didn't play them because they were our travel partner last year.  They celebrated their four seniors, and one of the senior's family (from Hawaii) brought leis for those seniors--purple and white, of course, for Amherst.  As they did last year, this father brought BLUE and WHITE leis for our seniors!  It completely blew me away last year, and I have to say, it completely blew me away again this year.  He's so mild mannered, and simply says we're celebrating "ALL" seniors, aren't we?!  (The Dalai Lama would have been proud!)  After the match, he approached me with a bag of these leis, and then boxes of chocolates for the rest of the team!  What a wonderful show of generosity and sportsmanship, and just an amazing, gracious thing to do, and we all truly appreciated it.  Thank you, Mr. Keeno!!

As for the match itself, Amherst came out strong in the first two sets, and really took control of the tempo early on.  I felt that we were not really in sync.  We just looked a little "off" and not totally smooth, nor really playing together completely, and we always seemed to be just a couple points behind, playing catch up.  We seemed hesitant, and unsure somehow and had trouble putting a string of good plays together.  Anyway, we lost the first set 21-25, and despite switching things up in the second set, we still lost the second set 19-25, but we actually started to look a little more together.  The next set belonged completely to us.  We dominated from start to finish, and only allowed them to score 13 points.  That's what we were looking for!  We continued to play well, and be the aggressors for a while in the 4th, but they battled and hung in there and made it very close in the 20's, but we pulled away for the 25-22 win.  AND, on to a 5th and decisive set!

We felt good going in to the last set.  Our receive had settled down, and we were being aggressive and forcing them to play good defense, and it all started out well right up to our 3-1 lead.  Then they went on a tear that we just couldn't answer.  A couple of aces, and some bad passes that resulted in poor hits that they then hammered back at us, and suddenly we were on our heels again, and scrambling to catch our breath, and shortly after a time-out, which resulted in them scoring the next few points unanswered, we switched sides at a deficit of 3-8.  It would go on to be 4-9 before taking our last timeout hoping to stop the bleeding, so to speak.  I think the damage got to 5-13 (which in a 5th is never good!).  However, we then staged an almost miraculous comeback!  We got four points with Stud serving, and then a missed serve put them at 14.  We battled back to 12-14 before a long rally ended with what looked like was going to be a free-ball to us that just ticked the net and trickled over for the last point, and the dagger in our hearts as our rally came up short!  It was actually a great match to watch (or so the fans thought!).  It was exciting as both teams had great runs, and some really good rallies.  I think we felt that they played well, and out-played us just enough to win, but all in all, it was a very close match that could have gone either way.  Both sides had their share of errors, and great shots.

As a team we hit .255, which has been a goal achieved for us.  We had 3 solo blocks, and 4 BA, but they held an important edge there with 18 BA.  We did have some phenomenal stat lines, however.  Julia's all around stats were amazing with 11/1/25 hitting stats for a .400 hitting % to go along with 21 assists, and 15 digs.  She's started out setting a 6-2 with Kathryn, but we switched to a 5-1 early in the 2nd set.  MJ hit .412 with 17 kills and only 3 errors on 34 swings, and Amy contributed 14 kills and 20 digs with a hitting % of .256.  Kathryn steadied our offense and ended up with 26 assists and 5 kills of her own.  Caitlin had a match high 25 digs, and Stud added 12 digs to round out our defense.

It was a tough match to lose, but we may get to see them again later, and I think we'd all like another chance to play them!  We had a late ride to our hotel, and an even later "dinner," if you can call it that at 11:30pm!  Fortunately, parents came through for us yet again with dinner provided by Caitlin's mom, all ready and placed on the bus waiting for us after the match.  And, some additional fruit came in the morning to supplement our "Free Continental Breakfast" at our hotel thanks to Lizzy's parents.  What a welcome treat!  Thanks Parents!

On to Trinity the next day, which was actually really fun because ALL our other teams were there playing Trinity as well, except for football.  We pulled up behind the men's soccer/women's field hockey bus, and the women's soccer bus pulled up right behind us.  We literally walked into the building flanked by all MIDD athletes!  We took a short walk around the campus in the beautiful weather before heading back inside to prepare for our match.

Fortunately, we dominated Trinity from the start!  They have a potent offense and we didn't want to let them get going early, and we shut them down nicely.  We served them tough, and kept them out of what they were trying to run, and that worked out very well for us.  We took the first game 25-11, and they really never got anything going in that first set.  We jumped out to another early lead in the second set, but they hung in there for a bit, but still found themselves behind 18-12 before making a comeback.  They would fight to get within one point at 21-20 but couldn't muster to get any closer and we pulled out to 24-21 lead before trading points to finish off the set.  The last set was more tightly contested the whole time, with us hanging on to a slim lead most of the way.  They were within 2 at 19-17, and then Maddie got a handle on their go-to middle, and had a couple of late blocks along with Amy to shut her down right when we needed them!  Those two combined for our last five points, both blocking and hitting.  We felt good about our consistency in the match, and it was a nice way to start off our Fall Break.

Over half the team was heading elsewhere with parents and friends after the match since there are no classes on Monday and Tuesday.  We're having late practice on Monday to allow them to travel back to campus during the day on Monday, so there were only 6 players left on the bus!  We stopped at Chipotle for dinner, which was awesome, and then watched a couple of good movies on the way home:  Finding Neverland, and The Illusionist.  Very nice.  Kathryn and Stud had to talk me through how to order at Chipotle, but their advice was wonderful.  What a great place!  The ones who were left, however, had to haul all of the stuff back into the building.  We took this picture of them schlepping all the stuff.  :)

We play at home this week on Wednesday night against Plymouth State, and then head to the Hall of Fame Tournament next weekend to play Wellesley, Brandeis, and Springfield, which should all be very good matches.  It's game time, and that oh so fun part of the season where you just keep playing good teams at every turn!  GO MIDD!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

MIDD Ends Skidmore's Win Streak

The rain finally ended, and the sun came out, and we had a gorgeous drive over to Skidmore on Tuesday afternoon.  Once again we had a car with a couple of players who needed to stay later for class, but once again, they made it in time for warm ups, or maybe 5 minutes late or so.  Skidmore was celebrating DIG PINK for breast cancer awareness month (October), so we played with pink game balls, which was a nice way to help raise awareness of this important disease that affects so many women.

On to the match.  We came out very strong, and served them pretty tough all night, and came away with a 3-0 win 25-21, 25-20, 25-21).  Each game was pretty close, despite a couple of larger leads that we'd built, and then let dribble away.  I think we may have been up 18-12 in the 2nd before getting to 21-19, and then pulling away for the set win.  We showed some good, scrappy play, and tough serving to go with our offense for the night.  They had one player who we couldn't seem to contain, but other than that, we felt very good about our match.  We had a good hitting night with a % of .250, which is better than we've had recently, so that was nice.  Most of our offense came from MJ, Amy and Olivia, all having double digit kills.  We did out block them 10-4, but the big difference was we had 10 aces to just 1 for them. Our receive was pretty solid, and so was our defense, led by Caitlin with a match high 21 digs.  Kathryn continued to run a very smart offense, and our bench played a great role as well helping to steady our receive when we needed it.  

Julia was still out, but should be back for this weekend's Conference matches, when we head to Amherst on Friday night, and on to Trinity on Saturday.  GO MIDD!!


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Whit '10.5 Visits, and Other Fall Fun

We had a surprise visit from Whitney Bean on Friday before we left for Hamilton.  Her youngest brother Tom was here doing his official visit with the soccer team, and she and her parents came up to enjoy the weekend also!  What a great surprise it was to see Whitney just appear at my office door!  And, of course, she showed the girls her "rock" since they'd recently found out she was engaged!  Maybe we'll get the last of the Bean clan to come to MIDD and keep it all in the family!   I'm sure they all enjoyed seeing our Football team absolutely rout Amherst after all the years when Jared played football and Amherst was unbeatable.  GO MIDD!

And, FALL is upon us, and what a gorgeous one it is so far.  If the sun would ever stay out long enough to enjoy the beauty, it could be one of the best in years?!  I took this picture out behind the field house while the sun was actually out between all the rain we've been having.  As I'm writing this, I can hear the rain on the roof yet again.

Last week, I had another surprise, but it was in our chicken shed.  THE FIRST EGG!  I've been checking the nesting boxes for the past couple of weeks thinking, "any day now."  And, there it was, a little egg!  Here's Maxwell showing off the egg!

 A couple of weeks ago now, when we had our home stand against Williams on a Wednesday night, and then Colby and Bates over the weekend, I actually got out and played some golf with Dave Gibbs and Tim Barrett, and my husband.   I hadn't been out on our course here since last Spring when Jane and Elissa and I went out with the softball coach and one of her seniors during senior week.  It's a "lifetime" sport, and one which I encourage all my athletes to pick up.  Eventually, you'll want to know how to play, and it's almost always easier to learn when you're younger.  That's what I believe, so that's what I tell them.  In college, you can take a PE class and learn how to play for free! 

Anyway, what fun we had that day, however, even in the light drizzle!  We also got in a game of 3v3 on the basketball court, but I didn't get pictures of that--no one needs to see the three of us all sweaty!  All I will say is, our VB dad's still got GAME!  There was some talk of doing another sport to complete our "triathlon," but we didn't get quite that far.  We still have another home weekend, though, so who knows...

MIDD Downs Hamilton, Loses to #12 Cortland

Heading to Hamilton, we knew we had two tasks at hand.  We needed to secure one more Conference win by beating Hamilton, and we also wanted to test our squad against a Nationally ranked opponent.  To top it off, SUNY Cortland was the team that ended our season last year, and headed on to the Elite 8 after winning the NY Regional.  Despite a rainy ride over on Friday night, Saturday turned out to be quite nice, even though we were inside all day.

First things first, however, and that was Hamilton.  We felt good going in to the match, despite still playing without Julia.  Kathryn has stepped into running the 5-1 with ease, and our offense has responded really well.  We hit .347 as a team against Hamilton, and were led by Olivia with 11, Amy with 10, and Piper with 9 kills.  Piper had NO hitting errors, and Olivia only had 1.  It was a nice team win, and we had good contributions from Lauren, Meg and Lizzy, in addition to the other starters. 

After a wonderful lunch provided by Stud's mom and dad, we regrouped to play again at 2pm against Cortland.  Even though we knew that Cortland would be a good match, I feel like we maybe didn't believe that we could beat them from the start.  They are a big blocking team, and they have a very balanced attack, similar to us.  We seemed to come out a little tentative, and we didn't quite find our rhythm until the 3rd game, and by that time, it was a little bit too late.  We tried our hardest to extend the match and work our way back into it by taking a game, but we just couldn't quite seem to pull it out. 

We trailed most of the first two sets, but the 3rd set was very much back and forth most of the way.  We saw our hitting % drop to .075, and we were out blocked 14-9 for the match.  The last game was where the action was, at least for us.  The most anyone led the entire set was when they got out to an 0-3 lead.  We had a brief lead of 11-9, but mostly it was either tied, or we were up or down a point.  We got down 22-24, and made a comeback to tie it at 24, but would then we would both have our opportunities to win the set, but neither team could get ahead by the necessary two points until they finally got us at 35-33.

In that last game, however, both Piper and Maddie has started to figure out their middles, and both had their best hitting set with 4-1-8 stats for Piper, and 3-1-11 for Maddie.  I think we learned a lot about ourselves, and that will be good moving forward.  It was a great match overall, and was a very fun third set for sure!  We've had only one other set quite like that, and that was against MIT last year at the Hall of Fame Tournament. 

Since we have a contingent from mid-state NY, both Lizzy's parents and Stud's parents were taking good care of us with regard to food!  We had food in between games, and then for the ride home, we had platters of pasta, salads, fruit, snacks, oh, and those famous parfaits by Stud's mom!!  And, lemon bars, which I think Maddie had hoped for (or maybe even asked for?!)  So good!!  Of course, I took pictures of the food.  :)

We have a full schedule coming up, so I think it was a good weekend to really get tested, and see where we are, and what we have to focus on at this point in the season.  We're traveling to Skidmore on Tuesday, and then on to Amherst and Trinity over the weekend for two more Conference matches.  It's getting to the really exciting part of the season where everything starts to come together, and we're all looking forward to putting our game out there on the line, and seeing what we can do, improving one day at a time.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

MIDD Downs Colby-Sawyer in 3

It was a dark, and stormy night...oh, wrong beginning.  That's just from my childhood days of reading Snoopy.  It was a dreary afternoon though.  It was rainy, cloudy, and foggy, but it somehow still managed to be gorgeous over the Middlebury Gap!  Breadloaf was exploding with color.  However, when we got over to New London, NH, we were buried in a fog bank.  Stud was driving her own car with Lizzy and Piper, who all had late class, so between that, and Nicki and Charlotte still being out, we counted up before we left and had everyone we were supposed to have at 10 people!  At least we got to spread out in the vans.

Once we got over there, our breathing exercise was a very tight group with only the 10 players, and it seemed odd to have such a small group.  Very shortly after that, however, our other three walked in, which was great.  We got started off in a typical way when we play  over there.  I'd warned the team that every year we go over there, we end up in a long, 5 game battle, so be prepared.  Nicki didn't travel with us because she's still getting over her illness, and Julia was out with an injury from practice the day before, but we felt good going in because of our team depth, as we've said all year will be a major strength.  The first game went to extra points, back and forth with each team having their chances up a set point.  We finally prevailed by a score of 30-28.  MJ was our hot hitter with 7 kills in that first set and only 1 error. 

The second set started out the same, trading points.  By the middle of the set, we started to pull away and built a lead of 15-10, and then 22-11 behind strong serving runs by both Amy and Caitlin.  They had a brief run of their own, but we closed out the set 25-17. 

The third set saw us get off to an early lead of 8-4, only to see the game tied at 16-16.  Maddie ate up her opposing middle getting 3 kills on 5 swings, and still MJ was still on fire getting 3 kills on 4 swings.  It wasn't a big blocking game for us, but both Piper and Amy came up with solo blocks at key times, which was great.  Kathryn was setting a 5-1 tonight in Julia's absence, and Meg was came in back row for Olivia and provided some very steady serve receive.  We outscored them 9-3 down the stretch to take the final set 25-19, and end the match in 3 straight sets.  We were very happy to get out of there in three straight.

The surprise of the night came when we actually had fans--well, two anyway!  Caitlin's mom and sister Molly showed up to cheer us on....AND bring us sandwiches so we could eat quickly and head home.  THANK YOU!!  It's been a busy week for work, and many people are still getting over colds etc. so getting on the road and heading home quickly was wanted by all of us. 

Today, the busy work schedule continued, and a couple people couldn't come at all to practice, and Julia still couldn't practice, and lots of people had a ton of work, so I just gave them the day off.  We'll all hopefully have time to catch up on work, sleep, and whatever else needs catching up on so we're ready to go this weekend.  Next week will be another busy week, so we're hoping to catch our breath right here, and then power through!  Tomorrow night we head over to Hamilton to spend the night before taking the court with them on Saturday morning.  Saturday afternoon we'll face off with SUNY Cortland in a rematch from the NCAA Regional Final from last year, so this will be a fun weekend with a tough Conference foe, and a tough out of Conference foe.  Cortland is currently ranked 12th in the most recent Division III National Rankings.