Wednesday, October 30, 2013

MIDD Goes 2-1 at Competitive Hall of Fame Tournament

After a disappointing Conference stretch, we were ready to take on some good non-Conference competition at the Hall of Fame Tournament.  The committee that schedules that tournament always waits until a week before to announce the match schedule to try to pair up appropriate non-conference match-ups that haven't occurred yet during the season.  In the past, we've gone up against some of the top non-NESCAC teams in New England, and this year was no different. We were matched up with MIT on Friday night, Amherst (sometimes it just works out that you have to play someone in your own Conference, and it just happened to be us this year), and Springfield, all of whom are ranked in the top 8 in New England. Plus, at the HOF tournament we always celebrate Meg's birthday, which is fun!

In our opening match on Friday night, we played MIT very tough in the first set, and even extended to extra points but couldn't quite come up with the win, and lost 26-28.  The good news was that it was a very competitive set.  The second set, we dominated despite it being close early on.  After being tied 4-4, we went up 15-11, and then went on a 7-0 run before they scored again, and then scored the next 3 to close out the second set 25-12.  The third set was closer, but late in the match we pulled ahead for a couple point lead and kept it to close it out 25-21.  The fourth set was a doozy.  We were down early by a few points, and then up in the middle of the match by as many as 5 at 16-11, only to see it tied again at 17-17.  We would then trade points, and eventually got down 20-24 with them serving for set point. Two kills by Amy, one by Melanie, and an ace by Katie and we closed the gap to 24-24.  MIT had an error, and then a kill by Olivia and the match was over!  That was quite a finish.  We had some great points and rallies in that span, but we just kept fighting, and were keeping balls in play, and we came up with some big plays at key moments. Defensively, there were many great plays to keep those rallies alive also, which was great to see.  It was a wonderful team win all the way around.

We headed to the hotel feeling good about both the win, and our level of play.  After eating a cooler dinner, which means that I brought groceries with us to make a dinner (aka. sandwiches and veggies), we figured out that we would need to meet for breakfast at 6:25 am the next day in order to get breakfast, stop at Dunkin Donuts for coffee, and still get to the gym by 7:15 to get people in the training room in time to warm up at 8am.  9am match times are something from the past, but for whatever reason, that was the start time for this weekend if you drew the early match, which we did apparently.

No worries, Dunks in hand, we arrived at the gym first, and started getting settled for our first match.  Amherst is another team that notoriously arrives early, so we were the first two teams there for either court, and several kids from both teams were off doing homework or whatever before needing to get ready to warm up.  Even though we'd rather not play a NESCAC school at this tournament, we were all kind of excited to play Amherst again.  We just felt like we didn't give them our best when we'd played them at home two weeks before.

It was a great match, start to finish.  We won the first, third, and fifth sets for the match win!  It was very competitive both ways, and our loss 18-25 in the second set was the largest margin.  The other sets were 25-21 in the first, 30-28 in the third, 22-25 in the 4th, and 15-11 in the 5th.  Even though it doesn't count toward the Conference standings, we all felt good about getting that victory, especially after beating MIT the night before, both of whom are top-ranked teams in New England.

Another funny scheduling thing that happens at this tournament is that some teams have to actually switch sites in the middle of the tournament, and we were one of those teams.  After playing Amherst at 9am, we loaded on the bus with lunch provided by the Andersons--which was awesome!!  Thank you so much for that lovely spread!!  We ate en route to Smith, which took almost a half hour and arrived in time to see Trinity up 2-0 already on our court.  That meant that we'd likely stay close to schedule and start our last match close to 1pm, which we did.  We needed to digest lunch, and then get warmed up again, and loosened up after the long Amherst match, followed by sitting on a bus. 

Springfield proved to be a very tough team, and I don't want to make excuses at all, but we seemed to be having some "issues" before that game.  Some were tight with not quite as much time to get warmed up again, others weren't feeling well with upset stomachs.  It was interesting to say the least.  As the team was warming up before our "official" warm up, Melanie left not feeling well.  Without Piper, we are down to only two middles, so when we were finishing up our last couple minutes of our official warm-up, and meeting before the match started, I pulled Charlotte aside and started explaining how she might have to play middle if Melanie didn't show back up.  Lizzy had to leave after the 2nd set and couldn't return, so Lauren stepped in to play libero, but we got our subbing for the middles mixed up, and Lauren and Katie switched which middle they were serving for, which is, of course, illegal.  No one figured it out until late in the match, at which point, they just called us out of rotation for that one point, but it was a sign of what type of match it had been. 

Despite this type of disorganization, we were somehow miraculously still in the match for most of first and second sets falling 21-25, and 19-25.  The last set we were not quite as competitive, losing 15-25.  I give them credit as they have some very tough hitters, and spread out between an OH,  a couple of different RH's, and one very good MH, but I think we'd all love another chance to play them again when that's the only match of the day.

The Anderson's brought cupcakes for Meg's birthday, which was fun!  And, the senior moms put together goodie bags for all of the girls, and even gave Brian and I one too!  The girls all had fun discovering all the fun things included in the bags, which was a lot of fun, and so did my kids!  And, to top it all off, it was Homecoming at home, and the football team beat Trinity, who was previously unbeaten in the final minutes of the game, so it was an excited bus-ride home.

Now we have all week to prepare for our last two Conference matches.  Our destiny is in our own hands.  If we win one, we should be in the tournament for sure, and if we win two, we could be seeded anywhere from 6-8, depending on who else wins/loses.  If there are major upsets, then the whole scene could change, but that's what I think is most likely to be the case.

Monday, instead of going in the pool for an alternative, and light workout, we decided to have Kathryn lead the team in a Yoga class to get a good stretch, and recoup without getting in the cold pool and therefore, hopefully staying a little healthier in the process.  Now that the weather outside has turned toward winter with snow-capped peaks in the distance, it's even more important to be taking care of our health as we enter the last push of the regular season into the Conference Tournament.  GO MIDD!!!

No comments: