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!")

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