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...

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