Tuesday, September 19, 2017

MCVB Sweeps First Conference Weekend

After a long, tough weekend without our full team, we were ready to start classes and have a week to prepare for our first Conference weekend.  Our schedule started off with Amherst on Friday night, followed by Trinity Saturday afternoon.  Pre season turned out to be perfect weather-wise with cooler temperatures and sunny days, but these past few days summer was back with hot, humid days.

Friday night we arrived at Amherst for our opening NESCAC match up, which was a hot evening, despite the open doors and evening hours.  It was a doozy, for sure.  We both battled the night away, into a 5th set finale which we pulled out in style, I think.  We lost the first set by 3 points, only to win the 2nd by 3 points.  The third set saw us get out to a bigger lead than either of the first two sets when we went up by as many as 5 or 6 points.  However, they battled back in the late 20's to take a lead and not give it up for the comeback (and go ahead) win in set 3.  Down 2 sets to 1, we battled back and forth in the 4th set, and then opened up a little lead and hung on to take that set 25-22 and forced a 5th set.

The fifth set was another back and forth battle.  We went ahead late and took a 12-9 lead, but they tied it up at 13-13, and went ahead 14-13 for their first and only match point.  Eliana tooled their block, and then Isabel rolled a nice off-speed shot down into the court, and then they had a hitting error to give us the final point of the match.

It was a crazy way to start the NESCAC, but probably appropriate also.  We expect the NESCAC to be very deep and competitive this year, as always, so we were really happy with the team's resilience and mental toughness to pull out a tight match like that, along with giving up leads and coming from behind.  All good stuff.

We spent the night in Springfield, MA (which had a Dunkin Donuts attached to our parking lot!) before heading to Trinity on Saturday.   We faced another tough Conference foe and battled back and forth before taking the first set 25-23.  In the second set Trinity came out strong and dug everything we seemed to be hitting at them, and blocked us pretty well, and won that set somewhat handily 25-19.  We battled right back in the next two sets to win convincingly with 25-19 and 25-18 scores to close out the match.

We're very happy with the play of everyone involved, and since this was our Rookie's first weekend of action, almost all of them found their way into the game and did a great job.  Jaime was starting at middle hitter, Rebecca came in to serve and play defense for Sarah, and Shea spelled Isabel for a bit, so it's really great to see the team coming together like this so early in the season.  We're excited about where we're going, and we have a week now with only non-Conference opponents before starting our Home Stretch at the end of the month.  We have a lot to work on and fine tune, of course, but it's great to see our resiliency and composure in tact this early!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Opening Weekend Split 2-2

Opening weekend of the 2017 Season started with a very long, but successful day!  Our first match was scheduled for 4pm, and our second one for 8pm, so we had time to get food in between, which was nice.  This was our longest weekend by far of the season with four matches and only 9 people since our freshmen were all on their respective Orientation Trips.  The first match of the day (not ours) was a 5 setter, so the whole schedule the rest of the day was behind.  We beat SUNY Oneonta 3-0, but still didn't get to start our Union match until almost 9:30 pm Friday night.  After winning the first two sets, we dropped the next two and ended up winning in the 5th set at almost 11:30 pm.  We like to get Dunkin Donuts coffee in the morning, but we may have needed it the next morning more than some mornings.  We did get to sleep in, though, so all in all, it wasn't all that bad since we didn't play until the 1pm match Saturday.

Here's the basic recap of the weekend:

SUNY Oneonta--we pretty much dominated the match, which was great for us in our season opener.  They had just come off a long match right before, but it was our first match of the season, so you never know.  We hit .400 for the game as a team, and Sarah had 10 kills on 11 swings for a .909 hitting %, which is ridiculous in college volleyball and they're not even that bad of a team (well done, Sarah!!); AND Chellsa attacked for 5 kills on 7 swings, which as a setter means she picked her spots very well indeed!  Becca hit .500 with a match high 14 kills on 22 swings.  Gig and Beth led the team in digs with 11 and 8 respectively, and thus it was a very good start to our season.

Union--what a match!  We won the first two sets, and although they were competitive, I was really hoping for our players that we were going to be able to close it out in three sets...not to be.  We narrowly lost the 3rd set 23-25 before dropping the 4th also 20-25.  However, we jumped out in the 5th to lead 4-1 and never looked back as we stayed at least 3 points ahead the rest of the way and closed it out 15-10 on a service ace by Becca, a kill by Isabel, and a couple of errors by them.  it was late, but a win makes it worth the late night in the gym!

The next day we slept in, ate breakfast and had our Dunks on our way back to the gym for our 2nd full day of volleyball with two more matches.  Most weekends will be 2 matches with a couple being 3 matches, but we won't play 4 matches in one weekend the rest of the season.  Here's day two's highlights:

Stevens Institute--Very competitive match, and we were the only team there that weekend that took a set from them.  They're very good, don't get me wrong, but we were right there with them the whole time.  We battled the first set to an extra points victory 26-24 before dropping our least contested set 15-25 in set two.  The third set was again a back and forth battle to extra points, this time tipping for the Ducks, unfortunately 24-26.  In the fourth set we would trade points, and then go behind by 3-4 points, and then come back to either tie it, or get to within one point, and then go behind again by a few points.  We were tied 8-8, close at 14-15, and then went down 16-20.  After that we fought back to a 21-22 score before dropping the final three points for the 21-25 loss.

By the final match against Brockport, I'm afraid we may have run out of steam a bit.  The team hung in there, and dropped the first set 20-25, but battled back to take a 23-21 lead in the second set before dropping the final 4 points to lose the set 23-25.  We controlled a competitive 3rd set 23-25, but led the entire way after getting out to a 3-0 lead, and never letting it go this time.  However, in the fourth set, we fell behind by quite a bit and fought back, but just couldn't quite muster the strength to push a 5th set.

Overall, I was very happy with our fight, our composure, and our play in general.  It was an exhausting weekend of volleyball with everyone on the bench playing in every match.  They all hung in there and kept a great attitude the whole time, which is a good foundation upon which to build.  Becca was awarded All-Tournament Team for the weekend, but everyone really contributed and everyone had moments of shining excellence over the weekend, which was really great to see.

We're excited about this year, and having our full team means that we have options in almost every position, which is great.  We have the week of practice to recover a bit, move forward with our conditioning and keep moving ahead with our skills, which is all exciting and fun!  This coming weekend will be our opening NESCAC weekend.  Let's GO MIDD!!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

MCVB 2017 Kicks Off with Team BBQ

It's official--we've started.  Yesterday was move-in day, and last night was our Team BBQ.  Today we started off with gear issue, training room check-in/freshmen concussion and balance testing, and then a team meeting.  This afternoon, we'll take a hike to discuss things like Hazing, and positive team culture and communication styles, and tomorrow we finally get to practice!!  We're allowed one practice tomorrow, to be followed by an NCAA compliance meeting, and meetings with our SID about social media responsibility.  Then, in the afternoon, we'll have a speaker come in to talk about Diversity and Inclusion, followed by a video presentation and discussion about Sexual Assault and our Green Dot Prevention Program that will feature two of our seniors who've undergone the Green Dot Training Program.  It's a couple of days packed with meetings, and then we get to have days on end of double sessions where we get to PLAY VOLLEYBALL!!

And, the FUN begins...here they are by class:  Seniors, then juniors, then sophomores, and then Freshmen.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Summer Internships...Emily Published an Article

MIDD Kids do internships every summer, and I don't always get the low down on those that my players do, but Emily did one last summer that was very cool that culminated in her publishing an article for them, and both Chellsa and Becca did cool ones this summer that they shared with me!

Now, I can't believe that I didn't get this done last year, but Emily interned last summer with The Avielle Foundation (TAF), and even published an article for them, which I'll link to here.  Here's what she wrote me about her internship:

"TAF is a grass-root organization that was started in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School a few years ago. The Avielle Foundation's mission is "to prevent violence and build compassion in communities by fostering brain science research, community engagement, and education."

As a big part of TAF's resources are directed at supporting breakthrough neuroscience research, my focus is to search through the existing scientific literature about brain health! Part of my responsibility is to process the scientific literature and translate it to make the knowledge more accessible to communities all over. My area of interest in particular has been the intersection between brain health and fitness!

I've written a blog post for TAF that discusses the logic and science behind parents signing their kids up for sports because it "keeps them out of trouble." The post discusses the preventative potential of sports when it comes to violence in addition to the neurological benefits of physical activity and fitness. Please read the post if you get the chance!

Avielle Foundation Article by Emily Kolodka

This summer, Chellsa loved her internship in NYC.  One of the highlights included being an assistant to immigration officers during the citizen naturalization process.  She also gained a better understanding of the court system itself, which she says is giving her some insight on the career she intends to pursue.

Becca was interning in Boston for a company called Compass Lexecon.  Compass Lexecon works on statistical analyses for companies and also law firms needing expert testimony in litigation.  Becca got to work on a few different cases, learned a new computer statistical program, and did a final project with a couple of other interns.  At the end of their time, they presented their project to the whole office, which she found to be exciting, in particular because she got to use a lot of what she learned in her Regression class at MIDD for actual work.  Let's face it, it's always a big moment when you realize that what you're learning in class actually has a real application in life!! She also got to meet up with recent alum Kathryn, who is currently working in Boston in the field of finance.

Thanks to these guys for sharing some of their summer work, and we're currently less than a week away from the start of our 2017 season!!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Alice's Chile Updates

Since the semesters are a bit different when studying in South America, Alice didn't really start spring term classes until March.  We previously wrote about some of her travels before classes started, and now we have the full update from her abroad experience!

The classes she was taking there were Legal Psychology, Educational Psychology, and the Social History of Chile.  In lieu of a fourth class, she got a job working as a communications intern for the Red Campus Sustentable, which was an environmental organization wanting to create change from the University level.

In addition to her studies, she had the opportunity to travel down south to Patagonia.  They went to Torres del Paine, Santiago, Isla Negra (to see one of Pablo Nerudo's houses), San Alfonso del Mar (which has the largest pool in the world--so COOL!), and also got to ski in the Andes.  In addition to those cool places, she also got to travel to Valparaiso and then up north to San Pedro del Atacama.

Alice loved the opportunity to travel during her semester, but learning the language is a main focus for study abroad.  She reported that her Spanish improved dramatically through not only her studies, but mainly by hanging out with her Chilean friends, who she spent most of her time with.  The Chileans speak "incredibly fast with a very thick accent and they have a ton of colloquialisms."  But, she reported that within a couple of months she could fully understand it, which is awesome!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Reunion 2017

June 2017 marked a milestone reunion for me, and for our youngest reunion alums:  my 25th, and their 5th!  Jane, Elissa and Caroline were all back for their "first" reunion, since we celebrate them every 5 years here at MIDD.  So fun to catch up with all of them, even briefly.  Elissa came from London, where she's working on a masters in public health and did some basketball coaching this past winter at the American School in London.  Jane is working in her hometown of Chicago, and Caroline is currently in DC after finishing law school at Georgetown.  It was a gorgeous weekend for reunion, dry and sunny days nestled between rain, rain and more rain!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Graduation 2017

This is very belated, but nonetheless, here it is: Graduation 2017! We said goodbye to our four seniors!  Commencement, of course, marks the "beginning" not an end as we sometimes think of it, and so even though we're sad to see our seniors go, we're excited for them as they start new beginnings!

Charlotte is headed to UVA for grad school (I'll mess up the actual degree, but she's going to study Environmental Studies and Landscape Architecture); Mel is headed to law school at NYU (and her younger brother is actually coming to MIDD next year!); Gabi is weighing some different options, so we'll keep you posted on what she ends up deciding on, and Hannah is headed to Kenya for her next job and chapter of life.  We wish you all the best!

I hope to post some updates from them here from time to time, but commencement now marks the beginning of their updates as "alums," no longer in the "team" updates!  Sorry guys, just the way it goes.  :)

The other pictures here are of Mel with our #1 Team Fan, Kate, and Tom Bean, who is the younger brother of MCVB alum Whitney Bean Stewart '10.  He was just a kid (smaller than 6'2" Whit) when he was coming to her games, and then he came himself (standing at 6'5") and starred on the MIDD men's soccer team, all the while remaining a huge MCVB Fan!  We'll miss you, too, Tom!!  Best wishes on your next adventures!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Senior Week

Senior week is that glorious time on campus between the end of finals and graduation.  It's a time when the college sponsors several activities for seniors to help them enjoy their final days at MIDD and continue to bond with their class.  It's also usually a time when I get to do some fun things with our seniors that we just don't always seem to find time for other years.

This year I was able to play 9 holes of golf with Melanie and Hannah, which was awesome!  It only took Mel a few holes to get back in the swing of things and then she started crushing the ball.  And, she did that with a set of PE clubs that were way to short for her, so nice job, Mel.  She talked about going into Law and how the golf course is a means of connecting and sometimes conducting business, so I'll guess that there's a lot more golf in her future, and she'll show up more than a few of her male counterparts, I think!

Hannah braved the course with us as her first golf outing other than Putt-Putt.  As you can imagine, she was a quick learn and once we figured out that she was attempting to swing the club with a volleyball platform, we made the adjustment and she started connecting with the ball much better!  You could tell she had experience at Putt-Putt because she had a nice putting touch, which is tough to do.  I'm not sure how much golf will be in her future, but if she chooses, she could have a lot of fun with it, I predict.

I was also able to play squash with Gabi, which was equally as fun!  We got a great workout and some good chatting in also, which was nice.  Neither of us are true squash guru's, but we had some great rallies and very close matches, and each of us won some, which was nice.

Today was also our Athletic Department Senior Awards Ceremony at Mead Chapel.  It was a nice ceremony to culminate the MIDD athletic experience with all the senior athletes (or at least some/most of them!)  They did a nice job including the history of the awards and the person for whom the awards are named, which was a nice addition to the ceremony, I thought.

Thank you all for sharing your time with me this week and over the past four years!  It's always nice to connect with you in endeavors outside of volleyball, and especially before you leave when it seems that "all of a sudden" four years have gone by--this is when I start to feel old, I think.  As always, I hope to see you all back at reunions or just back to see MCVB and MIDD.  I missed Char, so I'll definitely try to connect with everyone at graduation also.

I'll post some pictures from Graduation later this weekend also, but wanted to get these fun pictures in here, too.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Study Abroad Update From Our Juniors

Study Abroad is a great experience that many of our juniors take advantage of while they're at Middlebury.  Becca, Alice and Eliana are all having fun adventures studying abroad this Spring, and we've gotten the chance to catch up a bit with Eliana and Becca.

Becca is in Cordoba, Spain and Eliana is in Copenhagen, but they've been able to get together to travel a lot.  And, they've even had some teammates visit, which is great!  Becca and Eliana went to Dublin for St. Patrick's Day, which looked like a lot of FUN!!

Eliana was then able to visit Becca in Cordoba during her break where Becca showed her all of her new favorite spots, although she assured me she also went to class while her friend was visiting!  :)

The gorgeous night picture to the right is of the two of them in front of the Parliament building in Budapest.  While there, they were met by fellow teammates (who were on Spring Break from MIDD), Rose and Sarah, and they all visited a thermal bath, which looked like fun also!

Traveling is often one of the most memorable things about studying abroad, in addition to the local language and culture immersion.  Over the years, they all assure me that they're working hard, but in a very different way than when they're on campus at Middlebury....I am thrilled to keep in touch with them and in some ways live vicariously through them as they travel the world and have these wonderful experiences that are so different from our everyday campus days in our small corner of the world.

After Budapest, the teammates traveled to Copenhagen to see Eliana's temporary home abroad.  In addition to traveling and school, Eliana has been practicing with a Danish Volleyball Team, which she reports is a great way to make Danish friends and keep up with her training.

Thanks guys for sharing your great pictures with us, and keep having FUN (oh, and keep up with your work also!)  We miss you here on campus, but it's always exciting and fun to hear and see what you've been up to.  

Alice was the first to send an update, but that was from some of her travels before she actually got to Santiago, so we'll try to get an update soon from her, but I wanted to get these great pictures and the update from the others in here while it was still reasonably timely....

Back at MIDD, we've just finished up with the Spring Student Symposium, New Student Previw Days, and Relay for Life, so we'll get those updates in here before too long.  Happy Spring!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Alice Visits Ecuador en route to Semester in Santiago

Study abroad is such a great experience, and one that many MIDD students take advantage of during their junior year. Currently, Alice is reppin' MCVB in Ecuador en route to Santiago for the semester!

She was able to visit family living in Ecuador before her semester started and sent us some great pictures of some of her adventures there.
She went on a biking trip with her uncle and these gorgeous scenes were along the ride.  They went to Quilotoa and saw this gorgeous lake pictured behind Alice; they went to the refuges at the top of Cotopaxi and saw graves atop Chimborazo, which is a little different; and they also biked through BaƱos del Ambato.  

If I had to guess, I'd say that probably 80% of MCVB players do some kind of study abroad, either for a semester or shorter trips just during J-term.  In the past 20 years we've had one player (shout out to Luz '04!) go abroad for the year, and one student-assistant coach (shout out to Blair '01!) go abroad for the year, but most often it works to go for a semester or a month. There are so many different programs that the opportunities seem almost endless.  They can span one month or several months, and can be language intense, or in English-speaking parts of the world.  Wonderful experiences, all!

Stay tuned for more updates from Alice, Becca and Eliana as all three are studying abroad this semester!  Thanks for sharing, Alice! 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Winter 2017 4v4 Tournament

 It was great to see Pepin Gym filled with volleyball in January!  Several teams gathered for our 3rd or 4th annual 4v4 Tournament and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun Sunday.  The main picture here goes to this year's winners:  Hannah's team!

Sarah organized the tournament and reviewed the rules with everyone before the start:  no tipping in front of the attack line, men hit from back row only, but can block, only one MCVB present or former on each team, and I think that's most of the rules.  Any team members who weren't playing that round were reffing and helping keep score.  The mic got passed around to help commentate or direct teams to the proper court, and Rose and Gabi were excellent commentators, so they are featured here enjoying the mic!

I didn't get a picture of every team, but here are some pictures from the day--the main thing was definitely achieved:  FUN!!  Congrats to Team Hannah for taking home the winners tee shirts!!

Emily and her team talk strategy before their game...

Becca and team pose after winning their first game...

Chellsa's team poses for a picture while waiting for their 4th to arrive...

 Isabel and her team talk strategy, but then pose after losing their first game thinking that maybe coming in second would still be good?!

 Alice poses with her team to the left, and is shown below playing Beth's team of tracksters:  jumpers, I believe?  As you can see, one of her teammates is getting up--he took off behind the attack line to hit...

Finally, we have Team Pink Panther, which may have been the only team NOT to feature an MCVB team member?  We welcome them to the tournament and they definitely win the best team spirit award with the pink theme for all teammates, and hope to see them out here again next time, too!  

Thank you to everyone who came out to support the tournament, and we may even run one this Spring so some of the winter sport athletes can join in the fun?! Stay tuned for that... 

Happy last week of J-term!!