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.

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