Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cookie Baking Break During Finals

Christmas cookie baking time!  Last year I had the team out to my house to bake and decorate Christmas cookies, but this year, Hannah and Harrison were the only ones who had time.  we did it on the reading day, so I think most people were busy preparing (or cramming?) for their upcoming finals.  Lydia, Lois, Max and a friend also joined in the fun after school.

The young boys rolled out the second batch of dough, cut out more cookies, and ate quite a bit of raw dough.  (We all had to have just a little raw cookie dough, for old times sake!)  My girls, Hannah and Harrison decorated the cookies, all the while listening to Christmas music.

Hannah also brought out some great Cabot cheese that she'd received from her Track Coach and shared that with us, so we ate cheese and crackers while decorating (and eating) cookies.  What fun!

Then, Harrison got Lydia to do a duet on the piano--and this is when we learned that he was a Music major.  He's quite talented!  We also learned he has a flare for fictionalizing life stories, and has a great sense of humor!

Later this week, we ended up getting a nice winter storm, which meant two snow days for my kids, so I hope everyone traveling during this time got where they were going safely!  We ended up getting over a foot of wet, heavy snow, so we're lucky that we didn't lose power out at our house.

The picture below is of the adorable dove tree ornament that Sylvie made--thank you Brian and Sylvie--I love it, and it'll go on the tree just as soon as we actually get it!!

Good luck on Finals, safe travels to all, and have a wonderful Holiday!!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Banquet Concludes 2014 Season

We celebrated our Season with a final dinner at the Swift House Inn last night.  What a lovely place, and we want a special THANK YOU to go out to the Underbrinks and the Kolodkas for sponsoring this lovely event.  We'd never have a dinner like that without you, so we all really appreciate your generosity and thoughtfulness.

In a fashion typical of our team, we don't do a big, formal banquet celebration with speeches and presentations, but instead, just get together for a wonderful meal, and laughs and enjoy each other's company.  Pat Manley, our Faculty Affiliate, and Judd Mackey, our trainer joined us as they're both very important members of our team as well as the players and coaches.

We do have a few team awards that the team votes on, old-school Varsity Letters for the freshmen, and the official MIDD Certificate of Participation for everyone, so we hand those out so everyone has a token of appreciation for their efforts during the season.  I think Lizzy mentioned that she actually put her varsity M on a quilt or blanket, which is a great idea.  Then, I thank the captains for their special contributions.  I always recognize our seniors for FOUR wonderful years.  Every year I get them a navy fleece blanket with Middlebury and their # on it so as they cuddle up on their couch next year in whatever part of the country they end up in, they can reminisce about the "good ole days" playing MCVB!  It's a pretty quick award presentation, but hopefully a special one nonetheless.

The captains and team gave the "adults" a cool mug with the team picture on it, and some fun food items for Meg, in addition to a very special Picture Book for the coaches of a snapshot of the season, and a CD of the warm-up music.  THANK YOU for those nice gifts!!

Here are the results from our Team Awards:

Off-Court Contribution:  Kathryn Haderlein
On-Court Contribution:  Lizzy Reed
Most Improved:  Eliana Schaefer
Spirit Award:  Kathryn Haderlein (and Cowie)!

The Captains for 2015:  Kathryn, Katie, and Hannah

Congratulations to everyone, and thank you for a wonderful Season!!

Piper Competes in Senior Classic

Piper finished her senior career at MIDD by competing in the Senior Classic Event held at The University of Massachusetts at Boston yesterday.  Lizzy and Olivia were also honored by the nomination, but were unable to attend the actual event.  There were fun competitions and drills, and the event concluded with match play of a couple of sets.  I believe Piper's team won both sets, thanks in part to not only Piper's front row play, but she served (maybe for the first time in her career during a match??) and aced them on a short serve, and threw them off by mixing in deep serves--all that serve and chase paid off, huh, Piper!  :)

She represented NESCAC well as most other players in attendance were from other Conferences.  Way to go, Piper.  We also had a nice time on the drive just chatting, which was really fun.  After picking her up at 5:30 am, I dropped her off at 5pm so she'd have time to shower and change for our Banquet that night at 6pm, so it was a full day, especially hearing that she'd been in the lab until wee hours the previous night (or really that morning), and had been up at 5:00 am a couple other times that week babysitting for another coach!  (She left the Banquet and headed back to the lab to finish up more work on her cores for her Thesis, too.  LONG days right now for everyone...)

Good luck to everyone on their finals!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Alum Jane Handel's ('12) 8th Graders Take Championship!

Jane Handel ('12) is coaching an 8th grade team in the Chicago area, and her team just won their Championship!!  The St. Athanasius Redhawks beat St. Fancis 25-12, 25-12 for the Championship.  Well done, girls (and Jane!)  How exciting.  The look of pure joy and FUN is all over these young faces.  This is where it all starts...any future MCVB'ers in there?!

We have a few alums now in the coaching ranks, which is exciting.  Meg Anderson ('14) is our assistant here at MIDD, Luz Brito Pena ('04) is coaching at her High School in NY, Elissa Goeke ('12) is coaching with her former HS team in MD, and Megan "MJ" Jarchow ('14) assisted Concordia College in NY this past year.

I'm sure I'm missing some, as I know that Courtney Shepard ('14) has done a lot of club coaching, Lacee Patterson Phillips ('08) has been involved with the Starlings Club Program, Katy Hicks ('05) had a stint coaching before becoming a Doctor, and I'm sure there are a lot of others out there as well, maybe Lindsay Patterson('08), and Lexie Fisher ('08), or Rachael Faraone ('02), or Kellie Jensen ('02)?!?  Caitlin Barrett ('13), Lauren Barrett ('11), and Sarah Studwell ('13) have all sat on the bench here for games as "assistant coaches" as alums, so that counts too.  :)  If I've left anyone out, please let me know!

Happy Thanksgiving all, and thank you, Jane for sharing your fun news!!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Seniors, Hannah & Becca Honored by NEWVA

The NEWVA awards were released today.  The New England Women's Volleyball Association is comprised of a LOT of schools, so to be honored by the coaches of New England is very nice recognition.

Hannah was Honorable Mention All-Region!

Becca was on the All-Rookie Team!

All three seniors,  Olivia, Lizzy and Piper were invited to the Senior Classic!!

The New England Region has a LOT of schools in it, so these are all very nice honors, Congrats to all five!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hannah, Becca, and Lizzy Honored by NESCAC

The All-NESCAC awards came out today, and we had some very nice inclusions.  Hannah was named to the All-NESCAC 2nd team.  This is her first time receiving this honor.  She was in the top 2 in the Conference all season for assists/set, and was consistently on the leader board for service aces as well.  Hannah orchestrated our offense, and leads the team not only by dishing out the sets, but with her positive energy, enthusiasm, and game sense.  Nice job, Hannah!

Becca received the Co-Rookie of the Year award, along with a freshman from Amherst, which is a very nice honor, especially after getting a late start on an already short season!  She is the 5th Panther to receive this honor, but none others did it starting the season off with mono.  After sitting on the sidelines for almost a month, she jumped in to practice and games and immediately impacted our team, albeit a bit red-faced and winded to start out.  She quickly jumped onto the leader board for NESCAC in the top 10 for kills/set, and led our team in kills/set almost immediately as well.  Her leadership, poise and court presence were felt right away, and maybe even started emanating from the sidelines in pre-season...  Way to go, Becca!

In addition, Lizzy was named to the NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Team, which is very fitting for Lizzy.  This honor is a great way to recognize her for being the great role model she is, and for promoting and advocating for greater sportsmanship not only in collegiate volleyball, but life itself.  Congrats Lizzy!  You are very deserving of this award!  Lizzy also finished the season ranked 4th in NESCAC in digs/set, and was in the top 4 all season.

I'd also like to mention a couple of others that have been, or are still on the NESCAC leader board this season.  This is quite an accomplishment given the tremendous talent that abounds in the NESCAC, so it's nice to recognize them here.  We try not to place too much emphasis on stats during the season, but they can be a very good tool to use to evaluate and assess your skills sometimes and where you are relative to others.  I want their focus on the process, not just the outcome, but at the end of the day, it's outcomes that get measured.   Olivia was our kills leader for the first half of the season, and was consistently in the top 10 leader board for kills/set.  Melanie was on the leader board most of the season, and ended it ranked 8th in both hitting %, and blocks/set, so congrats to both of them as well.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Season Ends in NESCAC Quarterfinals

We had a great week of practice leading up to NESCAC's, starting with a CATZ workout on Monday.  Pictured here is our plank-line where we do rock-paper-sissors with the losing team doing a push up, down the line and back.  It's so much fun!  Too bad Lizzy had to sit that one out with a sore knee--it probably would have been one of her favorite practices!

Then, we headed to Boston on Friday, and witnessed our first snow of the season, which was also fun.  Unfortunately, we traveled without Kathryn, who had a fever and stayed on campus to sleep and rode down with Meg, who was coming later due to work.  As usual, we arrived early, as we like to, and had time to walk around and also watch some of the Hamilton vs. Williams match on our court at 5pm.  What a match!  Hamilton took them to 5 games, which was exciting.  Anything can happen in the NESCAC's.  We've been the #7 team and have upset the #2 team before, and it looked as if the improbably upset might just happen...but it didn't. 

Finally, it was our turn to play the 8pm match.  We were on the upper court at Tufts, which I would describe as an intimate court, but it was webcast, and we had announcers and ball runners, so it all worked out great.  We traded points with Bowdoin for much of the first set, and had the scored tied at 15-15 before a 7-0 run took them to a 21-15 lead over us.  We traded points again, but it wasn't enough to overcome the lead, and we dropped the first set 25-18.  I think we were just a little behind with our block timing, but we seemed to catch up to the speed by the end of the first set, which bode well for the 2nd. 

We came out strongly in the 2nd set to take a 6-0 lead behind the strong net play of Melanie and Emily.  Hannah was serving, and Melanie had a kill and two blocks, while Emily had a kill and a block, and Bowdoin had an attack error, and we were just shutting them down--which was a beautiful sight.  Emily only plays one rotation in the front row when Hannah starts out serving, and I thought I saw the big middle from Bowdoin notice that she was in the front, and she ran a slide pretty quickly, and Emily just shut her down!  It was great!  We led the whole set, and the closest they ever got was 2 points at 16-18, but that was it, as we went on another late 7-2 run, and evened the set scores 1-1 with a 25-18 win.

The 3rd set saw Bowdoin get out to a quick lead this time, going up 1-7 behind four errors on our side.  We went on a run of our own to tie it at 9-9 and we literally traded points until it was tied 19-19.  We then both had three point runs back to back to tie the score at 22-22.  Out of a Bowdoin timeout, they scored the next three points on two kills by their big OH, and an error by us to end the set.  On to the fourth. 

We traded the first couple of points of the set, but then we got behind by as many as 6 points, and trailed into the late teens before mounting a courageous comeback to get within 1 at 16-17.  They then had another mini run of their own, as we got down 22-19 before a Bowdoin attack error sent Emily to the service line, down 22-20.  Three straight points later (mostly on their errors), we were up 1, 23-22, but we just couldn't sustain the lead.  Their big OH put down two kills, and then hit the game winner off of our block, and that was it.  Bowdoin played very well, and I think they had to beat us that night, but that's what makes the tournament so much fun.  We knew we'd have to play our best to beat them twice, and although we played well, I don't think we played our best, and that's what it takes to win in November. 

Our statistical leaders were our freshman outsides, Alice and Becca with 11 kills apiece, followed closely by Mel with 9.  Olivia and Lizzy led the team with 16, and 15 digs respectively, while Mel had 5 blocks, and Becca and Piper both had 3.  We did out-block Bowdoin, which was great to see.  Charlotte lead the team with 3 service aces, and passed the ball well all night, and Hannah dished out 33 assists for the match.

Because we played the late match, we were spending the night anyway.  It's always tough to end the season on a loss, but every team that makes the tournament does, except for ONE.  Our seniors led us through a very good season, through some ups and downs with our young squad, and we will miss them very much.  It's always an interesting time as you reflect back on a career for those seniors, and yet look ahead to the future with the underclassmen.  We have a lot of talent returning, which we look forward to, but we'll miss our seniors too. 

We headed back to our hotel to spend the night.  The next morning we slept in, had breakfast, hit the DD next to our hotel, and got on the road back home.  The captains got to have the double room for the first time together all season, and cowie even had a pal with Lizzy's bear, or was it a dog (?)  Another season gone fast!  Once again, we had great support by our many families, both current and past, and we thank you ALL for your great support.  We'll so miss seeing the Reeds and the Underbrinks, but we don't have to say goodbye to the Kolodka's thanks to Emily!  Many of our parents traveled from both near and far for the match, and we had several past families who live in the area there as well to cheer us on.  THANK YOU ALL!! 

Darn that Bowdoin!  (Tufts would go on to beat Bowdoin the next day, and Williams would go on to beat Tufts in the final, but all three teams made the NCAA's, which is great for our Conference as a whole.  At this point, we root for anyone in NESCAC still playing, so, "GO NESCAC!")

Monday, November 3, 2014

Regular Season Finale in Pepin Gym

Our last regular season matches were at home this year, which is always fun!  We played Conn on Friday night, Halloween, and Tufts on Saturday afternoon.  So, we celebrated Senior Night on Friday night.  To start things off on a great note, pun intended, Piper's mom sang the National Anthem.  What a TREAT!  She's absolutely amazing!!  It totally set the perfect tone for us to then go out and beat Conn!  We did our senior appreciation for Piper, Lizzy and Olivia before the match, and then the whole team and parents were going out to Flatbread after the match on Saturday.  We had a ton of parents here for the weekend, which was really fun!

The first set of the Conn match was pretty close through to the middle of the set, and I think we were tied 15-15, and we held a slim lead at 20-18, but then Hannah went back to serve, and we went on to score the next 5 points for the win.  The second set was not as close as we held a 4-5 point lead for most of the set.  Everyone got in on the action as just about everyone scored--Alice, Becca, Piper and Olivia all had at multiple kills in the set, and everyone but Lizzy and Katie recorded at least one kill in the set. The third set started out with Melanie getting two of the first four points, and we never looked back.  We led the entire set, from start to finish.  We got out to an 8-1 lead, and 19-9, and would go on to win 25-13 as Alice sealed the deal on an ace to end the set.

Brian had missed our Halloween dress up before practice the day before, so he came all decked out in his costume for the match, which was great.  He had on flip flops, sunglasses, and even the white sunblock on his nose for his surfer dude outfit!  I didn't notice if the students in the crowd were all dressed up or not, but I'm sure some of them were!

The next day we took on Tufts.  We had secured the 4th seed, no matter what happened, I think, but if we could beat Tufts, and Williams beat Bowdoin, then Williams would host the tournament.  As it turned out, neither of those things happened, so Tufts earned the right to host the tournament after beating us.

They came out very strong in the first set, and really controlled the tempo.  We stayed with them for the first part of that first set, and trailed only by 2 at 7-9, but they quickly went on a 5-1 run to take a lead of 14-8, and never looked back as they took set 1, 25-16.  Set two was more of the same as we just couldn't seem to muster enough offense to get them out of system, and they cruised to a 25-13 win.

The third set we started to figure some things out, which was nice.  We started to get some blocks, and then ran our offense, and that put them out of system, which then turned the tables in our favor.  We were doing good things, and they were making errors, just as we had done the first two sets, and we jumped out to a 10-5 lead.  They fought back and tied it at 13-13, but we pulled ahead again and surged to a 25-20 lead as Becca scored our last two points on kills sandwiched around a kill by her former HS teammate for Tufts.

Now, training 1 set to 2, we were at least back in the game, and competing.  The fourth set was back and forth the whole way.  There were several tied scores, the last of which was 17-17.  Unfortunately, from that point they went on a 8-2 run to finish off the match with a final score of 25-19.  We had a couple of unforced attacking errors, they blocked us a couple of times, the had a couple of kills by Becca's former teammate, and then Haley Hopper rotated to the front, and we'd had some trouble getting touches on her with our block, and scored the final two points on kills that went straight to the floor.

We had such great support from a ton of families, it was so fun, but a win would have been even better.  There will be more to come, however, so our huge group enjoyed a fun evening at Flatbread that night.

We're just hoping we get another shot at them in the tournament.  We'll have to get through Bowdoin first, but that's what the tournament is all about.  It's time to put it all out there on the court, and it's that win or go home time of the year!  It's so exciting--we love it!  We play Bowdoin at 8pm on the second court at Tufts Friday night.  If you're in the Boston area, we'd love to see you there!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween FUN!!

 Since we played on Halloween, we decided to dress up before practice on Thursday. There's no pressure about it, and in typical fashion, some really got into it, and others didn't dress up at all.  It's all good!  Here are some of our pics, though.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Big Weekend at Hall of Fame Tournament

The Hall of Fame Tournament has been a fairly long tradition for us here with MCVB.  The tournament has changed structures over the years, and now it's more of a Classic than a true Tournament as the pairings are all decided beforehand.  This year we faced Brandeis on Friday night at 5pm, and then MIT and Springfield on Saturday.  Although the weekend didn't start out on a good note, it went very well overall!

Friday morning I got a text from Melanie that she still wasn't feeling any better after missing practice the day before, and it became clear that we'd be leaving her behind when we left.  I felt horrible for her, but at least we made sure she made it to the Health Center, and was settled in to just sleep the weekend (and hopefully the illness) away while we were gone.

This was the first time in several years that we got to play the "early" match on Friday.  What that really means for our team is that we get to go out for a real, sit down dinner!  First things first, however, because we needed to beat Brandeis.  They play in a very tough conference (UAA), so we knew that despite their record, they could be a very tough team.  We outplayed them from start to finish (minus the second set...), and it was a fun match.  It was really a Kolodka Sisters' show, statistically speaking.  Emily led the team with 11 kills, hitting .241, along with 3 service aces, 16 digs, and 2 block assists for a complete, balanced game!  Olivia was next with 8 kills and no errors for a .381 hitting %, 7 assists, 1 ace, 9 digs, and a solo block for another well rounded match.  And, Katie led all players with 6 service aces!   Becca, Piper and Gabi were all major contributors to our balanced offensive game with 7, 5, and 4 kills apiece respectively, and Piper and Gabi led our blocking effort with 2 solos by Piper and 3 block assists by Gabi.  Hannah had a match high 30 assists to go along with her two kills, 1 ace, 10 digs, and a block assist for another well-rounded complete game.

We cruised to a quick victory in set one 25-14, only to see what could have started to look like a repeat of Plymouth in the second set as they rebounded, taking us a bit by surprise to take it 21-25.  Fortunately, and with good team play with our serving and passing, our offense took control and finished out the last two sets 25-17, and 25-13 for the win...and on to dinner!

Apparently, they had some power issues at the other location of the tournament that night, so the times got moved back an hour, so we had more time to sleep in, eat breakfast, make our DD stop :) and still get to the gym to watch MIT play Amherst before our match.

We've traditionally had great matches with MIT at this tournament, and this one was definitely another one of those.  I think the longest single set we've ever played has been against MIT at this tournament, and I think it was 33-31 a couple of years ago.  Anyway, we came out strong, serving tough, and digging balls, and blocking well, and took the first game 25-21. The set was capped off with on a 5-0 run with three kills by Becca and two hitting errors by them to end the set in our favor.  The next set saw us get down early, and although we did make a small run at the end, it was too little, too late, and we lost that set 16-25. The third set was more of the same, as we got down early 1-6, and 12-16 before making a run with Olivia serving to get within 1 at 16-17.  We stayed close, but couldn't quite pull it out, and lost 22-25 to go down 1-2 in sets.

The fourth set belonged to us, however, as we got on top early for a 6-1 lead, and 14-4, and even 20-9 before they made a run to narrow the gap to 21-12.  We traded points before Alice ended the set with one of her 14 kills.  In the crucial 5th set, we jumped out to an early lead of 4-1 behind a couple of aces, one by Emily and one by Katie.  They had a few errors to go with a couple of our kills, and we then traded points a bit before Lizzy aced them for an 11-5 lead, forcing a timeout by MIT.  We held a 13-8 lead before they scored by a couple of kills by their big hitter, and we had two errors of our own, to narrow our lead to 13-12.  A Becca kill brought us to match point, which then saw them get one more kill before finishing the match with an MIT attack error, and the WIN for MIDD!!  We finished the match with 22 Block Assists, which was great to see, especially against a good hitting team.  MIT was ranked in the top 6 in the New England Region coming into the weekend, and we felt very good about the win!

Hannah was very steady once again with 43 assists, 12 digs, 2 solo blocks, and one kill.  Becca had another very solid game with a match high 15 kills and three blocks, while Alice had 14 kills and an impressive .355 hitting %.  Emily led the team with 28 digs, followed by Lizzy with 22, and Olivia posted 9 kills, 10 digs, and 3 blocks.

We quickly gathered our stuff, and headed for the bus where our lunch was awaiting, and Rueann was poised to take us straight to Smith for our last match of the day, against another of the Region's powerhouses in 8th ranked Springfield College.  We arrived at Smith to find our court empty, and awaiting us, which was nice because for the last match of the day, we were afraid the court could have been backed up.  We had about 45 minutes on the clock before the start of our match, which was about perfect.

After barely edging them 29-27 in the first set, we jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in sets by taking the second set 25-17 behind some very strong serving and excellent passing.  Our team defense was really clicking, and we were defending, talking and covering the court, and we came up with some big digs and a couple of blocks against some of their powerful hitters, which I think frustrated them,   It also allowed us to run our offense, keeping them from being able to get into theirs.  That only lasted so long, however, and they started to figure us out a bit, and started to pass our serves, which caused us to possibly try a little too hard to get the "tough" serve, and as a result, we had 14 service errors in the match!  Yikes.  They also grossly out-blocked us 16-5, which hurt, and although we played them very tough all around, we couldn't quite come up with enough points to take any of the last three sets for the victory.

All in all, however, I was extremely proud of how we played this weekend.  Gabi stepped up and played great, and I think that's some of the best TEAM volleyball we've played all season, which was really fun to see.  Becca was named to the All-Tournament team, which was a nice honor.  It was really great to see several players step up their games this weekend, so we'll work on keeping that going!

This tournament has often been over Meg's birthday, so we met after the players showered in the "cupcake area" where we once again had treats of various kinds from our wonderful parents.  Jen's parents made cute personalized jersey cookies for the team.  Gabi's parent's brought little goodie bags for everyone, and Eliana's parents had homemade cookies for the bus ride home.  And, Meg's parents not only brought VB SHOES for Gabi, but also brought us more of the oh so delicious apples and dip!  NICE!   Also, the Kolodka's were there, as was Katie's dad, so thank you again for all of your wonderful support.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

MIDD Loses Tough One at Home on Meg's Birthday

Plymouth State may have been a little sluggish getting off the bus Wednesday night as we cruised to an easy win in set 1, 25-15 behind some good serving once again, and 12 kills and a .240 hitting %.  However, there was a lot more to come this night...

Set two was much more of a battle, with many tied scores, and lead changes that saw us fall behind in the middle of the set by as many as 5 points.  We battled back and actually took a 4 point lead at 21-17, but couldn't hold off their late run, which saw us lose 8 straight points and the set.  The third set was a nail-biter.  We got off to a rough start going down 2-6, and couldn't even tie it until 17-17.  We finally went up a couple of points, only to see them tie it, and then neither team could quite finish.  There were many great rallies, and many long rallies where no one was hitting the ball hard, we just rolled it over the net to each other, but we eventually pulled out that set 29-27, and thought we were getting at least a little momentum back...

Not so, I guess.  The fourth set was very close again with many tie scores, and lead changes.  We tied it at 19-19, and got behind 20-22 before a service error and a blocked ball ended the set in favor of the "bad guys."  So, on to a fifth set, which was more of the same.  We got down by a couple, we went up by a couple, and we traded points with them to the tune of being tied 13-13 before two errors by us gave them the match.  It was a very tough loss.  We feel like we just didn't maintain our level of intensity and attention to detail with our play.  I'm still looking for some positives in the match, which I know there were I'll try to highlight some of the statistical ones here:

Piper had a pretty good night with 10 kills, a .389 hitting %, and 7 block assists.  Olivia had two service aces, 9 kills, and both she and Hannah had 5 block assists each.  Becca was our main offensive machine with 19 kills, two shy of the match high by the opponent's OH.  Charlotte and Melanie each had 4 block assists as this could very well have been our best blocking night (although, I'm not convinced the stats are totally correct on that front?!)  Charlotte also posted 10 kills, and Lizzy tied their libero for a match high 36 digs, as she was all over the court digging balls.

We're hoping to regroup this weekend.  We certainly didn't give Meg a good birthday win, but hopefully she did something fun today!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

MIDD Wins Two NESCAC Matches After Mid-week Loss

After Fall Break, we were a bit slow getting back into the swing of things.  That last day of break, we traveled to Colby-Sawyer for a Tuesday night match against a top-15 ranked Regional opponent.  I won't go into detail about the pre-game snacking specifically, but let's say I don't think we had the proper nutrition in our systems to be at our best.

We were sluggish at best to start out, and although we stayed pretty close with them, they were ahead most of that first set, and even pulled ahead by as many as 6 late in the set.  We did fight back to tie it up at 23, but couldn't quite pull the victory, losing the first set 24-26.  The second set was more of the same, with us trading points for most of the set, and neither team could grab a lead of more than two points, and unfortunately for us, they scored the last two, for a 23-25 second set loss.

We finally rebounded a bit in the third, but despite an early lead, we never totally turned the momentum around, as they fought back in it, and we escaped that set with a 25-20 win.  In this set, we only managed to hit an even 0.00 percentage, but fortunately, they were worse, and thus the win.  It still wasn't quite clicking.  It was very odd.  Everything we did looked hard.  Actually, only one person had what they would consider a good match, and that was Alice.  She hit .333 for the match, which saw us hit a miserable .074.  The only statistical category we were better in was service aces, so needless to say, it was a long evening of volleyball.

However, as we moved on to the weekend, we felt good about what we were doing in practice (after a mental re-boot on Wednesday).  Despite losing a couple of players to illness on Thursday, we still felt ready to take on our NESCAC foes from CT:  Trinity on Friday, and Wesleyan on Saturday.  This was also our DIG PINK NESCAC weekend, so we donned our pink tees for warm-ups, along with Trinity on Friday night.  Fortunately for us, our sick players rebounded well, and we were at full strength to play both Friday night and Saturday.  We arrived so early at Trinity that we had plenty of time to walk around campus, which was kind of fun...

Friday night at Trinity, we battled back and forth to start the set, and even trailed by one at 16-17, but a late 9-1 run bolstered by tough serving finished out the set for a 25-18 win.  The second and third sets would be more of the same as we ended the night with 6 service aces, and a team hitting % of over .300.

Saturday, after Lizzy's dad took me grocery shopping for the team breakfast, and we stopped for our earned DD run, we headed to Wesleyan, looking for our 5th Conference Win.  The first set, Wesleyan was definitely in charge, and they seemed on a mission to get a win from us, making their trip to the playoffs more of a reality.  They cruised past us for a 16-25 first set easy win.  We weren't awful, but they were good, and we did nothing to stop them from being good.  Fortunately, we regrouped well, and turned up the intensity ourselves, and started to control more of the action, staying right with them to a 17-17 tie in the second set before we pulled ahead with a 5-0 run to finish out the set for a 25-20 win.  The third set was fairly close again, but we jumped out to an early lead, and then maintained about a 4-5 point lead the rest of the way to take a 2-1 advantage in sets.  We finished out the match in style leading from the first point on for the clean sweep for the weekend!

We had three players with double digit kills (Olivia with 12, and Becca and Alice with 11), while Hannah continued her NESCAC leading assists per set with over 10 per set.  We had three people with multiple service aces (Hannah with 4, Lizzy and Olivia with 3). Piper hit .500 with 4 kills on only 8 swings, and Lizzy was our lone double-digit leader in digs with 18.  Our bench did a great job of keeping the team motivated, happy and together as always, and we all know that these wins are great TEAM wins!!

We had great alum fan support also, which was really FUN!  We had a former player, and several parents of former players:  Marty and Joann Kenney--Katie Kenny Enslin '03, and Luz Brito Pena '04 came with her husband and son Kevin.  Meg's ('14) parents, Ann and Paul came to see us and she wasn't even with us, AND brought us the awesome apples and dip (!!), and also Angela Jarchow (Megan '14).

Of course, we had fabulous parent support as well, with Piper's parents still on their East Coast tour following MCVB, Jen's parents, Olivia/Emily's parents, along with their trainer and his family, and Katie's parents, and Lizzy's parents.  I think Kathryn's cousin and aunt were also there, along with a friend of Hannah's, and of course, cowie was with us.  SO, we had TREATS for the way home!  :)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

NESCAC Volleyball Celebrates DIG PINK!

The NESCAC Volleyball Coaches have designated this coming weekend, Oct. 17-18 as a NESCAC-wide Dig Pink Event.  At all locations of matches this weekend there will be Dig Pink awareness and fundraising events going on, and here's the link to donate to the MIDD Dig Pink page.

We'll be at Trinity on Friday night, and Wesleyan on Saturday, and we'll be warming up in our PINK tee shirts to help celebrate the cause.  October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so we as a coaches group picked this weekend to be our NESCAC weekend.  As a Conference we think it's important to support this cause because Breast Cancer is such a prolific disease that can often be cured if detected early, and it affects so many women.  Even though we all have our own things we get involved with on each of our campuses, we thought is was important that we bond together for a common cause, and this year it's DIG PINK.

The Side Out Foundation does a lot of work to both raise awareness about this issue, and raise funds to help support the research efforts, so please click on this link if you'd like more information about it, and we hope anyone reading this might consider making even a small donation to the cause on our Middlebury link.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Fall Break Fun

FALL BREAK is a fun time!  NO classes on Monday and Tuesday, so we can change our schedule and do some fun things, in addition to people catching up on work and sleep.  Sunday, several of the team went to Burlington to get great food at the Asiana House, and then did some shopping on Church Street.  I think they were enjoying the colors in a roadside celebration (?) also.  What a gorgeous Fall it's been!

Then, after practice today, we had a Team Activity of....Laser Tag at Whirlie's World, here in Middlebury!  It was a blast, I have to admit.  I think I had as much fun as the rest of them.  We grouped into teams by position, so the RH/S were one group, the OH's were a group (and I joined that one), and then the MH/DS's were a group.  Several people were on their game, and some particularly strong on team strategy, others had their own, personal strategy, too.  Mel was an animal, as was Hannah, and Olivia, and Alice, too.  [I think those were the main ones getting the most points, however, Eliana may have been the "sleeper" of the group as I think she surprised everyone by winning one of the games.  When we did a game of "everyone for themselves," though, Hannah crushed it!! 

We also enjoyed the Bouncy House at Whirlie's World, or at least the OH team did.  A couple of people (Gabi, and someone else) won a bunch of tickets with Fruit Ninja, and Piper and Katie enjoyed a race car driving game!  It was a lot of fun all the way around. 

Tomorrow, we are off to play Colby-Sawyer, and then it's back to the regular schedule of classes etc.  Nerf was a great host at Whirlie's World, so we may have to pay him another visit sometime, and do this again!  :)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

MIDD Sweeps Bowdoin and Colby in Big NESCAC Weekend at Home

It took 5 sets, but we beat a very good Bowdoin team again this year!  Friday night saw Bowdoin come into our gym ranked in the top 5 in the Region, and getting votes for the top 25 in the country on the AVCA Poll.  That didn't mean a thing to us as our only goal was to beat them in our quest toward the Conference Tournament. 

The match was basically very close the whole way, except for two lopsided games.  One we ran away with 25-14, and one they ran away with 15-25, but other than that, they were all decided by 2-3 points.  They took the first set after several tie scores, and as late as 17-17, before Bowdoin went on a four point run that we never recovered from. 

Set two was all us.  We never trailed, and after going up 8-6 we went on a 10-0 run and never looked back.  Sometimes that just happens...  Tied 1-1 in games, the third set was a critical one, and it was tight the whole way.   Despite the tightness of the score, we actually seemed to be behind a few points most of the set, and were often playing catch-up, which we consistently did.  We were tied at 1-1, 7-7, and 10-10.  Then, we trailed by a couple of points consistently until we tied it again at 19-19.  Our first lead since getting the first point came at 21-20, and we never gave up that lead.  They tied it at 23-23 on a service ace, but then gave us back the lead on a service error.  Then, they got another kill to even it at 24-24 before Olivia and Becca each had a kill to take the set 26-24!

Unfortunately for us, that game that sometimes just happens, even when teams are well matched, like in the second set that belonged all to us...well, it happened TO us, as pretty much everything they did worked, and we couldn't get a single thing to go our way in the 4th set.  Their big hitter got hot, and we made errors, and well, it wasn't all that pretty as they won 25-15, leading us to a 5th set for the first time this season.

They kept some of their momentum from the 4th set going into the 5th and grabbed an early lead 2-6.  We then put together a few strings of points starting with three, then we both got two points in a row, before we went on another four point run to go up 11-9 before a Bowdoin side out.  We scored three more points to go up 14-10 but Bowdoin finally put a string of their own together to bring the game to 14-13.  Sometimes that last point can be elusive, so we'll need to work on that, but Alice pounded a ball into their block and it went out for the win.  Big win! 

Becca led three of our hitter in double digit kills with 14, followed by Olivia with 12, and Alice with 11.We had 15 Block Assists with Piper having 5, and Melanie getting three to go along with her two Solo Blocks.  Hannah continues to lead the Conference with over 10 assists per set and stayed right on track as she had 45 assists in this 5 set match. Olivia and Katie each had 3 service aces, and Lizzy led all players with 24 digs!  We even had a pretty good fan base for it being Fall Break as I think the football team was still on campus before leaving in the morning for their Williams game.  Members of the D8 sang the National Anthem to get things started, and the crowd was loud and great!

The next day we faced Colby.  We knew they had a good win over Conn under their belts despite losing to Hamilton the night before, and we knew they would be a different challenge for us than Bowdoin.  Their offense is very middle hitter driven, and we felt like we could control that with our blocking and defense, as long as we could get our offense going to keep them from doing whatever they wanted.  As Brian likes to say, "sometimes the best defense is a good offense."

Well, the first set, everything went our way en route to a 25-12 win.  We knew they'd come out with more in the next set, which they did, but we ran away with the sweep with 25-21, and 25-20 set scores.  The second set was a set of strings for both teams, and went back and forth to be tied 21-21 before we scored the final string of points to win 25-21 on two kills from Becca and one from Piper to seal the deal.  The final set was mostly us, but then as we approached the end, they made a final push before Melanie pounded a quick attack to the floor "with authority" (as my mom would have said!) to end the match, and secure our NESCAC sweep of the Maine teams!

Piper again led the blocking with 3 BA, and Becca again led our offense with 14 kills and a .424 hitting %.  Piper had a stellar hitting % of .750 will 6 kills on 8 swings from the middle, while Melanie also hit very well with 5 kills and 1 error on 9 swings.  Our team hitting % was .308 for the match, which was great to see. 

We're now on Fall Break with no classes on Monday and Tuesday, so hopefully we'll get some good rest, catch up on work, and enjoy some fun Fall activities over the weekend since it's absolutely gorgeous right now up here in New England Paradise!

Friday, October 10, 2014

MIDD Cruises Past Skidmore Again

We traveled to Skidmore again on Wednesday night for a mid-week match.  Lizzy was sick, but other than that, we seem to be getting past the bug that's been going around.  We took two vans, one leaving early so some could have two hours pre-match to stretch, heat, roll, etc., and one late van so some could stay in class longer, and arrive just in time to change clothes and warm up.  For the mid week matches, that can really help out academically, so we try to accommodate that whenever possible.

The first set saw us hit almost at our goal of .200 with .196, as we almost tripled their kills 17-6.  Kathryn set the 2nd and third sets, which saw our hitting % rise to .414, and .282 respectively.  Becca led our offense with a match high 13 kills, followed by Olivia with 11, Alice with 10, and Piper with 8.  Emily led our defense as the libero with 12 digs, followed by Becca and Olivia with 10 apiece.  Piper and Alice both had two blocks, and Hannah had a match high 2 aces.  Melanie hit .571, while Alice hit .474 for two great hitting matches, which was fun. 

Our dinner at Chipotle was great.  We've never been to that one before, and we usually just get Subway when we go there, so we had to play a quick prank on Gabi and make her think we'd ordered everyone turkey from Subway so we could get on the road faster.  I don't even really get the joke there on Gabi, but was happy to play along--and we seemed to get the reaction from both Gabi and the team that the captains were looking for.  :)

The straight set win was our second over Skidmore, and now we are prepared to play two more NESCAC schools this weekend at home against Bowdoin tonight, and Colby on Saturday.  GO MIDD!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

MCVB Alums Visiting This Fall

It's been a great Fall for having Alums visit, and that's been so much FUN!  First, Amy Lowell ('01) visited with her friend Charlie, and watched the beginning of practice, and got introduced to the team back during pre season.  Then, just recently, Jane Handel '12, and Elissa Goeke '12 visited and stayed for most of practice and even ran a ball control drill while Brian and I were working with the blockers on the other court.   We also had another surprise visitor from the class of '98.

Cathy Veach Moyer '98 stopped by with her husband after being in the Stowe area on business.  I looked right at her, and was like, "Hi there!  How's it going?" and then realized, wait a minute...Veach?!  (I still can't call her anything but Veach, and even introduced her that way--sorry Kevin!)  :)  It was fun to introduce them all to the team, and have them say a bit about when they were here, and what they're doing now.  I'm really hoping to get some alumnae connections set up, or at least a pathway for current players/alums to connect, if possible. 

Anyway, what fun to have you guys all stop by.  A fun fact about these visitors was that they were all part of one of our four NESCAC Championships!  Amy was on both the 97, and 98 teams, and Veach was a senior for our first one in 1997.  Jane and Elissa were part of the 2010 Championship.  Fun times!

If anyone is ever in the area, please stop by to say hello--it's always so great to see you, and catch up, even briefly!  Also, Amy sent me this picture of Rachael Faraone '02, Amy Lowell '01, and Leslie Edwards (not sure of her married name--sorry Leslie!) '01 at the beach this past summer in East Hampton.  You all look great!  Thanks for sharing, and please keep in touch!  FYI--I still tell stories about the upperclassmen making you two 6 foot freshmen middles sit in the way back of the vans for our "multiple" trips to Maine back in the day!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

MIDD Took on Both Purples Over the Weekend

We had a great match against Amherst on Friday night.  We arrived SO early that we had plenty of time to walk around campus, and enjoy some Fall weather and sunshine before getting ready for our game.  We came out strong played well, and executed our game plan very nicely to take the first game 25-16.  Neither team hit for a good % in that first game, but we felt good about our serving, and our blocking, and they were going for shots around our block and just missing, and we were digging everything else.

The second set was also very competitive, but had strings for both teams.  We got behind early, but fought back in it, but couldn't quite overcome the early deficit.  The third set was a very productive set as both teams hit for a very good %, and was really a set of who was in system.  When we were in system, we looked good, and they weren't doing much to stop us, and vice versa.  The score wasn't really reflective of the closeness of the set as they won 25-16, but it was a competitive game.  In the fourth set, we went back and forth some, but had held a lead for most of the set, and went up 21-17 late, but after a missed serve to break up some momentum, we couldn't quite regain any of that momentum, even enough to stop their final push, and they outscored us 8-1 to end the match in their favor. 

Some highlights for us was our serving as we out aced them, forcing more receiving errors than we gave up.  We felt good about our blocking, despite it not really showing up in the stats column.  We also had great contributions from Becca, who's back in full swing now, I think.  She had 10 kills and hit .194.  Olivia led the team with 13 kills hitting .170, and Piper hit a stellar .579 with 11 kills and NO errors, so those were wonderful individual performances.  Lizzy led the team in digs, but was closely followed by both Emily and Hannah, and those two both led the team in aces with 2 and 3 respectively.  Hannah continues to lead the Conference in assists per set, which is a large feat with the stiff competition in the NESCAC.

It rained pretty much all day on Saturday, but it was an easy trip over to Williams.  Once again we got off to a good start, and played very competitively against them in the first set, and took the second set 26-24 behind some good serving, and ball control, allowing us to run our offense, and stay aggressive, which looked very good at times.  Unfortunately, Williams pretty much dominated the final two sets to take the match.  Becca led our offensive effort with 13 kills and a .333 hitting % to lead the team in both categories, as the team combined for only a .098 hitting %.  Lizzy tied for a match high of 17 digs, again closely followed by Emily with 16, and Hannah with 15.  Once again, we feel like we are doing a lot of positive things, and are looking forward to keeping improving every day, and competing against the rest of the Conference in the weeks to come.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Monday Yoga with Kathryn

After our weekend that had us playing at home on Friday night in a very late match, and then traveling Saturday to play in two matches, we decided that Monday should be a recuperation day of sorts.  The next three weeks in a row, we have mid-week matches, and over half the team has had some sort of a cold, which fortunately only saw us lose one player to a fever, but Charlotte missed three days of practice last week.  All of this added up to us deciding to have a good health day, and so we met for Yoga instead of practice, and then were in and out in an hour.

Kathryn is an excellent (and certified) Yoga Instructor, so we're very lucky to have her as our leader.  She led our class in the gym, and it was thoroughly enjoyed by all of us.  Here are some pictures of us holding poses, and Kathryn, our fearless leader of course in style for the Blog--cover photo!!  :)

Monday, September 29, 2014

MIDD Goes 2-1 for the Weekend

Friday night we suffered our first NESCAC loss to Hamilton.  While it was a very frustrating loss, we recognize that we are close to being the team we want to be.  The first two sets were both decided by 2 points, and unfortunately, we just couldn't come up with the plays when we needed them.  We then crushed them in set 3 before jumping out to a reasonable lead in the fourth, and were hoping to force a 5th set.  That wasn't to be, due to an 11 point run by Hamilton to seal our fate.  I give them the credit, as they out-played us, but we'd love to have that match over again, similar to our Union match.  That's not the way sports works, but as long as we learn from these losses, and keep moving forward, I'm confident we'll be a better team in the end because of it!

Saturday, we left early for Skidmore, just to try to avoid any early Leaf Peeper traffic on a gorgeous Saturday morning.  It's hard to believe how much some of the trees are changing already.  That's always the indicator of where we are in the season...  Hamilton had been late the night before, and we thought there might be construction traffic also, but we sailed right through, and thus arrived even earlier.  The extra time allowed us to sit outside and have a team meeting in the sunshine, and have some snacks etc. before warming up.

We played St. John Fisher first, and handled them fairly easily.  We're still not hitting a high enough percentage for us to be as good as we can be, but the Kolodka sisters, and Piper paced our offense with 9,9, and 7 kills respectively.  Those three hit well over .200 which is our team goal, but with everyone all together, our hitting % was only .173, so we'll keep working on that.  Becca made her first real appearance after playing the final few points in the last set against Hamilton, so that was good to see!

After pulling out to a small lead in the first set of 13-9, and then 16-11, they fought back into the set and closed it to 21-20.  While this was not what we wanted, the good news was that once up 23-21, we finished the set by scoring the last two points for the win.  The second set was also tied mid way through at 16-16, but again we scored the last three points of the match to win 25-19, and then hit stride and finished the match with a 25-15 score in the third set.

Skidmore was our second match of the day, and we had another convincing win, although the second set was a nail biter!  The good news was that after being close the whole way, and having 11 tie scores, we pulled out the final two points, and the last one a convincing ace by Hannah to seal the deal.  The third set we pulled out to an early lead and never looked back.  After the disappointing loss on Friday, the team bounced back and played well to win both in straight sets on Saturday.  Hannah and Emily were named to the All-Tournament Team for their efforts, so congrats to both of them!  Well done!

We have all week to prepare for Amherst and Williams, so that should be good.  Those will be big Conference games, as always!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall Harvest

What a great Fall Harvest it's been from my garden!   I didn't get a good crop of tomatoes, but it's been producing a lot of other great veggies, which has been really fun.  We escaped the early frost that hit parts of the county last week, but it made me nervous, so we picked a lot this past weekend, and here's a picture of our bounty.  We still have a lot more green beans, a couple of pie pumpkins, a couple more small heads of cabbage, lots of Kale, Basil, Carrots, Leeks, and Beets, and quite a few more Brussel Sprouts.  The squash is basically done, but we do still have some asparagus, and some rhubarb, although both are usually best in early Spring.

The other fun thing that we discovered the other day was this tiny egg!  We had four new baby chicks in the Spring, but only two of them survived the summer. Spring chicks usually start laying anytime late Sept. or early October, and this little baby egg has to be from one of them.  So cute!