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 by...so 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.