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.