Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Season Opens with Tournament in Boston

We were ready to put on the uniforms and get down to business, and that's exactly what we did this past weekend at the UMass Boston Tournament.  We played four matches in two days, which is the most we'll play in one weekend all season.  Our trip started off with small group discussions on the bus orchestrated by the captains, which is a new tradition starting this year to help us both be connected, and keep connected to each other.  We still watched a movie, and people slept, and listened to their personal music, but we had our "together time" to connect, share, and listen to each other, which I think will be a special new tradition with fun topics to be revealed by the captains at the start of each road trip.

Our first match was against Whitman College, from Walla Walla, Washington.  We knew nothing other than what their stats told us, but for our first match of the season, we were much more concerned with ourselves than our opponent anyway.  I guess one way to describe it was a typical first match?!  We played them very tough, with all sets other than the first being decided by 4 or fewer points, both ways.  We got off to a shaky start losing the first set 25-15, but bounced right back to compete for the second set 21-25, and won the third by the same score.  Despite the fact that we lost the fourth set, and thus the match, we were actually doing a lot of good things, I thought.  Our top three hitters (our veterans, Olivia, Piper and Melanie) combined for a hitting % of .180, and Hannah averaged almost 10 Assists per game, and Lizzy  had 21 digs, which was one dig shy of the match high set by Whitman's libero.  We made too many errors, yes, but we did a lot of positive things as well, so we're building off of those successes.

The second match that night saw us beat a previously undefeated Western Connecticut team, so we all felt good about that.  This was a great match for us in some ways, as it saw us really fight, and pull together to scrap out a win in extra points in set 2, 29-27.  For this early in the season, and with the new faces on the court, I thought this was a wonderful victory and really helped set the tone for what we want to accomplish this year with our heart and hustle.

We had so many fans comprised of current parents (Katie, Piper, Olivia and Emily, Eliana, Alice, Lizzy, and Jen), Hannah's grandparents, recent alums and their families--namely the Barretts and the Andersons, and even not so recent alum families-- Kenney's, so thank you all for your wonderful support!!  And despite my better judgement, when the famous carmelitas were brought out between games because the team was starving (and also because they're just THAT good!), I wasn't sure it was a good idea, but I let it go.  Since we won, now I have to say, I guess it was indeed OK, and maybe a part of our togetherness and good vibes was brought on by those delicious, carmelitas made with love and Panther Pride?!  (To the team, don't count on me letting you eat those again before a match!)

The next morning, we had earned our trip to DD, so off we went for our traditional excursion on Saturday mornings.  We've collectively decided that we need to "earn" this privilege, which I thought we did based on the process of striving for our goals, namely--All Out, All Game, All Season!!  I might add that I started off with decaf, just to make sure I didn't have extra jitters as I've mistakenly done before...

Our morning then got going against the host school, UMass Boston.  Although we hung right in there for the first game, falling 22-25, we were a bit outmatched the rest of the match.  The good news for us was that what we did well at times, we did pretty well, and what we needed to work on was pretty defined, so next time we'll be ready!  After that first game, last season's NCAA Regional Champs handed us our first straight set loss 18-25, and 14-25.

There was no rest for the weary, as we simply moved courts, stuffed some quick bites into our mouths, and started warming up again for our final match of the weekend.  This time we played Salisbury, who, like Whitman, was another out of region opponent.  We felt good going in as we thought their style of play was very similar to ours.  I felt from watching them briefly that we would be well matched against them.  Other than the fact that we gave up too many runs without our own run to counter, we actually played them fairly tough, despite the set scores.  I realize that I'm spinning this in a positive light, but I also really believe that we did a lot of good things, so we're feeling good about what we have to build on in practice moving forward. 

For the ride home, we had various snacks from parents, and adorable Goody Bags from the Kolodkas!!  So nice!  We also had the famous apples and special dip from the Anderson's!  So, with treats in hand, we got on board, headed to the nearest Chipotle Restaurant that Rueann (our fearless bus driver) had found for us, and headed home.  We'll get another chance to put it all together tomorrow night when we have our Home Opener against Union College.  Stay tuned.  And, Meg has started a Facebook page for us, so if you want to follow us on Facebook, I think this may be the link?  MCVB on Facebook

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