Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Rough Weekend for MCVB

The New England Challenge Tournament proved to be quite a challenge for MCVB.  Our first stop on our trip was at Panera, where we scored some extra baguettes, which was a fun start!  We were headed to play Babson that night before going to MIT on Saturday to face both Springfield and MIT.  The regional rankings going into the weekend had Tufts at #2, MIT #4, Springfield #5, MIDD #6, Williams #10, and Babson #13. 

Having faced Babson earlier in the season, we felt like we knew what they wanted to do offensively, and although they are a very good team, we thought we matched up well, and felt prepared for the battle.  The match was being played in honor of one of the Babson players who's currently battling cancer and is taking some time away from school, but was there to support the team.  I know this player well, and want her to know that MCVB is supporting her fight as well.  She looked great, and is doing well right now, so keep up the fight, Olivia!

Unfortunately, we didn't bring our A-game, and had trouble finding consistency.  We had wild swings within the sets, jumping out to an 8-2 lead in set 1, only to see it get cut right back to 8-7.  Then, after being tied 17-17, we edged a lead out to 21-17 before they went on a 6-1 spurt to put us down 22-23 and calling our final timeout.  We would only score one more point as they went on to take the first set 25-23. In the second set we traded points until about 8-8 before they surged ahead 17-12.  We made a little headway, but lost that set 25-20.  The 3rd set we were down again, and facing elimination down 16-23, we fought our way back with a 5 point run to get to 21-24, and then staved off three match points to go on another 5 point run to take the 3rd set 26-24!  I thought we were coming out of our funk, but alas, it was not true and after being tied 7-7, we lost the 4th set 25-14.

It was a torrential downpour outside, with flash flood warnings popping up on our phones like crazy.  We made slow going back to the hotel, but ordered food to be delivered, and finally got to eat around 11pm.  The next morning was a pretty quick turn around as we headed back into Boston at 8am to prepare for our 10:30 bout with Springfield.  That match was pretty ugly, honestly, from our perspective.  They have a powerful offense with a 6'2" All American middle hitter, so if you can keep them out of system, you can win, but we couldn't get in system ourselves long enough to force them out of system, and some key serving errors at bad times just made it that much worse, and we ended up losing in straight sets without really competing for the match at all.

MIT was our last match of the weekend, and I actually felt good going in.  I thought we matched up well, and if we could get our defensive/receive game back, I liked our chances.  Fortunately, we did start to block again, which was nice to see, but we didn't find our consistency on any front, and ended up losing in straight sets.  The 2nd set was very competitive, and we fought for the other two, but came up short.

It was a challenging weekend of non-conference, top regional opponents, so it was a great test for us.  Although we didn't perform as well as we wanted to by any means, I think we learned a lot, and will come back hungry for practice this week heading into our final two Conference matches before the NESCAC Tournament.  It's all about getting better every day as a team, so I'm confident that we'll continue to do just that.   We like to stress with the players that it's not what happens that matters most, but it's how you react to what happens.  Things don't always go your way, and bouncing back and showing resiliency is a very important life skill, and we're testing that out right now!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Some Fall Break Fun...

Following a nice home stand where we won 3 of 4 key NESCAC matches, we also had Fall Break on Oct. 17-18.  No class on Monday and Tuesday after senior day isn't all bad, although sometimes it's nice when it comes after long road trips, but we'll take any break we can get.  Mid terms seem to drag on and on, so it's nice for the team to get a break when they can sleep in and catch up on some work, and have a couple of days without the schedule of classes, etc.  With this extra time, we decided to have some good ole Laser Tag FUN! 

It's all for fun, and there was no competing going on between the red and blue laser tag, none at all...

We all split into three groups for the laser tag competitions, and then jumped in the bounce house, and played some games.  Good, old fashioned fun in my mind! Nerf is a great host, and he loves to have the teams come by, so thank you, Nerf, for a great time!!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Melanie English '17 Named Phi Beta Kappa

The weekend of Oct. 7-8 proved to be a very busy weekend indeed.  Not only did we face two key NESCAC foes on our home court and celebrated Parent's Weekend, but Melanie was honored as Phi Beta Kappa!!  She was one of only 13 students to receive the prestigious academic honor, and we couldn't be more proud of her!  Well done, Mel!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

MIDD Gets 3 of 4 Key NESCAC Wins!

We had two home weekends in a row with key NESCAC games.  The first weekend saw Bowdoin and Tufts come to town, followed by the "Purple Weekend" against both Amherst and Williams.

The first weekend we celebrated Parent's Weekend, and started it out with a win over Bowdoin 3-0.  The sets were all close, but having faced them last in the NESCAC semi-finals last year, it was great to get that win in straight sets.  The scores were all close, but there were pretty big swings within the sets.  Set one saw MIDD get out to a 17-11 lead only to see that margin narrow to 23-21 before we registered the last two points for the win.  Set two saw us go up by a few points early, only to find us trailing 19-21 late. Again, a final push where we scored 6 of the final 8 points for a 25-23 win in set 2.  The final set was similar again, only going down by a few points early to storm back to a 20-19 lead and wouldn't trail again trading points before taking the final set 25-22.

The following day we played Tufts at 2pm, followed by our MCVB family dinner at Flatbread.  The match was a back and forth, tightly contested match, but also saw both teams go on stretches where they were more dominant with Tufts winning the first set 25-17 and MIDD taking the second 25-14.  Set three was closer, but MIDD couldn't quite come up with the win, losing 25-22, but again in the 4th set, we pulled away for a 25-17 win, forcing the final 5th set.  Tied 9-9, we ran out of time to overcomeTufts final push, losing 11-15.  It was a great match, but unfortunately, we came up on the short end of that final set.  Former player, Whitney Bean Stewart was in town that weekend for her brother's soccer game, so we got to catch up a bit at Flatbread, which was great!

In what proved to be a very nice, long home stand, we played at home again the following weekend after a mid-week away match at Skidmore.  In that match, we easily swept a team that we hadn't seen since the first weekend of the season, which had a similar outcome as well.

To finish our home stand, we faced both Amherst and Williams, with whom we were in a three way tie for 2nd in NESCAC coming into the weekend.  Amherst was our first opponent on Friday night, and we came out firing on all fronts and easily won 25-15.  Amherst wouldn't go down easily, coming back to win the 2nd set 25-21 before we closed them out in the next two sets 25-19, and 25-16 for the match win.

Saturday afternoon we celebrated Senior Day before our Williams match.  Hannah, Gabi, Charlotte and Melanie were honored and presented with flowers before the match.  Everyone but Charlotte had at least one parent here, which was great, and Brian and Meg stepped in as Charlotte's "parents".  We opened up the first set with a 25-21 win.  Similar to the night before, Williams was definitely not going down without a fight as they handled us to even the match winning set two 25-18.  Set three saw us get a 5 point lead in the middle of the set, but Williams closed the gap to two 20-18 before we made our final push to take the 3rd set 25-20, and a 2-1 lead in the match.  The final set was started out very close as we clung to a 9-8 lead before going on a 12-1 run to blow the set wide open.  While we were up 21-9, we had trouble closing out the final set as Williams came storming back behind several kills by Williams senior Jasuta, bringing them all the way back to match point down 24-20 before Isabel got a kill down the line for the match win.

Hannah had a fun surprise visitor as her HS coach who's now retired came to see her play!  She hadn't gotten to see her play in college, and so planned this trip to surprise her for senior day!  How fun!  She'd never been to this part of the country before and was enjoying the scenery as well as getting to see Hannah play again (and was impressed)!  After the match, the senior parents bought some cupcakes, and Melanie's mom gave each of the girls a framed picture of all four team pictures in a vertical frame for their MCVB memories.  So nice!  It was great to see all of the family support here both weekends, so thank you all for coming out to support us!!

Now, this weekend we're off to Boston to play in the New England Challenge where we'll play Babson Friday night, and then both Springfield and MIT on Saturday.  GO MIDD!!

Friday, October 7, 2016

MIDD Tallies 3 Key Regional Wins Last Weekend

Last weekend was the first of a string of big weekends for us as we are headed into the meat of our Season.  We played Conn on Friday night, and then had a tri-match with Babson and UMass Boston, who was then #1 in New England.

BEFORE the weekend, however, we celebrated a big birthday for Brian on Thursday!  This big birthday meant I actually baked a home made cake, and the team highlighted the celebration with a list of the "Top 10 Things We Love About Brian!"  For a guy with a big sweet tooth, he said that list was even better than cake--nice job, ladies!

On Friday, we got off to a slow start against Conn on Friday night, dropping the first set, but powered back to take the next three straight sets for the 3-1 victory.  We had a trip in between sites, however, since we were playing in Boston the next day, so we had our picnic dinner en route on the bus, which was a new challenge.  A highlight of the weekend, in addition to our wins of course, was our home-made breakfast at Beth's house on Saturday morning!

It turned out that a home made breakfast was exactly what we needed as we went on to beat both Babson and UMass Boston that afternoon!  Babson was a tough match back and forth as we won the first and third sets heading into the 4th up 2-1 in sets.  We battled back and forth again, and found ourselves down 22-24 trying to stave off a 5th set.  After a time out to break the momentum, we sided out, sending Becca to the service line, where we then scored the next four points for the match victory 26-24.

UMass Boston played Babson before we did as both visiting teams played back to back, but our conditioning paid off for us as we maintained our strength and power into the 5th and deciding set of a long match.  After taking the first set 25-22, we lost the next two by only scoring 17 and 15 points respectively.  We regained our composure and momentum by taking the fourth set by a similar convincing margin 25-17, forcing the deciding 5th set.  We found ourselves down 0-4 to start the 5th set, and down 3-7 before siding out to bring Chellsa to the service line down 4-7.  She then served the next 11 serves in a row to take us to match point up 14-7 before they sided out on her 11th serve!  Isabel notched 7 kills in our last 12 points, including match point, and Chellsa had one ace in that stretch for the 15-9 win!

It was a long, tough weekend, but it was rewarding as we continue to improve and work on all things TEAM heading into the heart of our season!  We did a yoga class on Monday in place of practice to help take care of our bodies before getting back to work on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday leading into a big Conference weekend at home!

It's Parent's Weekend this weekend when we'll face both Bowdoin and Tufts in key Conference matches.  8pm tonight vs Bowdoin, and 2pm tomorrow vs Tufts, followed by Melanie's Phi Beta Kappa ceremony and then our Parent's Weekend Dinner at Flatbread!  Big weekend of FUN!  GO MIDD!!