Wednesday, December 20, 2017

MCVB Celebrates Season with Team Brunch

We celebrated our season at Rosie's Restaurant over brunch a couple weeks ago now, and I want to share the pictures from it with everyone.  It was a fun morning and a good way to get the day going for those still studying hard for finals.  A couple of people were actually leaving later that day with finals either being done, or papers that could be handed in on-line.

It's so hard to go from seeing the team every day to only seeing them once in a while, so I always look forward to the banquet because it's usually the first time I'll see the team all together since the last day of our season.

The first people I want to recognize from our banquet are the 7 Nescac All-Academic players.  This is something we pride ourselves on, and this group kept up the exceptional work in the classroom as well as on the court, so I'm proud to recognize these 7:  Sarah, Emily, Becca, Eliana, Chellsa, Alice and Isabel.  Great job, guys!!

Next, we want to recognize our Team award winners.  The team votes for three awards.  We have the MCVB Spirit Award to recognize the person who consistently demonstrates the positive spirit of MCVB.  That award went to Beth Neal.  The team also votes on the Yellow Jersey Award (think Tour de France).  This award recognizes the person who gives consistent effort and works hard to become a better player every day in practice.  This award went to Emily Kolodka.  The final award is the Panther Pride Award which recognizes a player for being the best teammate.  Becca was awarded this for making those around her better by holding herself and others accountable to a high standard of excellence, while also being supportive and understanding.

Next, we honor our freshmen for getting their Varsity Letter.  Physical Education is a graduation requirement at MIDD, so every freshman athlete gets one credit out of the way by playing a varsity sport.  In the Physical Education Department, one has to demonstrate breadth of activity, not depth, so they only get one PE credit for volleyball, even playing 4 years.  (As the Director of PE, I fully support this!)  We've had people do fun things with their letters like make a Varsity Letter Jacket (very cool!), and a Holiday stocking with the M on it.  Congrats to our freshmen for earning their Varsity M!

Our seniors are a focal point of the banquet also and although we don't have them give speeches (perhaps that's a good idea for the future), it's nice to honor them for their dedication to the Program for four years.  To show my appreciation, I've given the seniors a fleece blanket embroidered with their # on it for several years now, maybe decades?!  :)

We also honor the captains for this year and thank them for all the hard work they do keeping the team together, helping the communication lines between the team and the coaches stay active and helping motivate and organize the team, so a big THANK YOU to Becca, Emily and Sarah.

We also want to be sure to recognize our two All-NESCAC honorees, so we presented both Becca and Isabel with their All-NESCAC certificates for 1st team and 2nd Team respectively.  With the depth of talent in the NESCAC, it's a very high honor to be selected as one of the top players in the Conference.  Becca was also a member of the All-Sportsmanship Team for NESCAC, as voted on by her teammates.  Of the 763 student athletes named to the All-Academic Team, only 4 across all 11 institutions were named to ALL three teams:  All-Academic, All-NESCAC, and All-Sportsmanship, and Becca was one of those 4!

In addition, this year, ALL FOUR seniors were honored by the NEWVA (New England Women's Volleyball Association) by being asked to take part in the Senior Classic.  This is an event that brings the top seniors in New England together for some fun skill competitions and then they play a final match.  This event happens at a tough time for us with our beak schedule, and finals, and the distance we have to travel just to get there, so unfortunately, they were unable to go, but it was a great honor that all four were selected for this.

It was a great season overall, despite the fact it didn't quite finish the way we were hoping, but we have lots of things to work on in the off season to prepare for next year.  It's like we say after every loss, as long as we learn something from this experience that will make us better in the future, it's all OK.  I'm looking forward to doing some fun things with the team in the off season like skating, golfing, paddle tennis or squash, and who knows what else.  I've already gone to an a capella concert by Gigi's group (fantastic), and hopefully I'll get to more of other people's events, too.  Happy Holidays to everyone, and here's to a great New Year!!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Several Post Season Honors for Becca and Isabel

Raffel, Sessions Earn All-NESCAC Volleyball Accolades

(L-R): Becca Raffel and Isabel Sessions
(L-R): Becca Raffel and Isabel Sessions
Two Middlebury College volleyball players were honored when the league announced its All-NESCAC recipients. Senior Becca Raffel (Palo Alto, Calif.) was named to the conference's first team for the third-straight season, while junior Isabel Sessions (Chicago, Ill.) picked up her second-consecutive spot on the second team. The duo helped guide the Panthers to a 16-9 record in 2017.
Becca finished 4th in the NESCAC in kills/set, and Isabel finished 6th in kills/set and 5th in hitting % (the top OH)!  Huge congrats to them for these nice honors, especially in a Conference as deep with talent as the NESCAC, these are very nice honors. (NOTE:  I wrote this short paragraph.  Everything else in this entry was all from our SID Office.)

Raffel, Sessions Named AVCA All-Region

(L-R): Becca Raffel and Isabel Sessions
(L-R): Becca Raffel and Isabel Sessions
Two members of the Middlebury College volleyball team were honored when the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) handed out postseason honors. Senior Becca Raffel (Palo Alto, Calif.) was a first-team All-Northeast Region selection for the third-consecutive year, while junior Isabel Sessions (Chicago, Ill.) was an honorable mention selection. The duo helped guide the Panthers to a 16-9 record in 2017.
Raffel is a three-time First-Team All-NESCAC selection and the 2014 NESCAC Co-Rookie of the Year. The outside hitter ranked second in the league in kills (317) and fourth in kills per set (3.34), while hitting .238. She recorded a double-digit kill total in 20 matches this fall, including a season-best 21 against Wesleyan. Raffel played in all 25 matches with 95 sets played this season. The senior also posted career-best totals of 290 digs and 3.05 digs per set, tallying 14 double-doubles to go along with 26 service aces and 18 total blocks. She became just the fifth player in the program's history to eclipse the 1,000-kill plateau, finishing her four years with 1,163 kills. She concludes her career second all-time in the Panther record books with 3.29 kills per set and fifth in kills.
Sessions picks up her first all-region honor after collecting her second-straight spot on the All-NESCAC second team. She was second on the team and sixth in the league with 3.17 kills per set. A member of the NEWVA All-Rookie team in 2015, Sessions recorded 10 or more kills in 16 matches this season. During her last five matches of 2017, she averaged over 16 kills per match, including a career-best 23 kills in a five-set contest at Williams in the regular-season finale. For the season, Sessions led the Panthers and ranked fifth in the NESCAC with a .299 hitting percentage including two matches with a .667 or better mark. She enters her senior year with career totals of 802 kills and 2.96 kills per set.

Raffel Named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team

Raffel Named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team 
Middlebury College volleyball player Becca Raffel (Palo Alto, Calif.) has been named a College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) District I First-Team Academic All-District selection. The senior outside hitter helped the Panthers to a 16-9 record this season.
Raffel is an economics major at Middlebury, owning a 3.86 grade point average. She is a three-time American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) First-Team All-Northeast Region selection and a three-time First-Team All-NESCAC selection as well as the 2014 NESCAC Co-Rookie of the Year. 
The Panther will now be placed on a national ballot with the Academic All-American team slated to be released on December 13.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Season Ends in NESCAC Quarterfinals

We entered the NESCAC Tournament with hopes of being the first 6th seed team to win a Championship, and in the first two sets against Bowdoin Friday night, we looked like we just might be primed to do it.  We'd had a disappointing final weekend where we lost to both Hamilton and Williams in 5 sets, but after a good week of practice, we were ready for NESCAC Championship action!

We started strongly, going up by as many as 6 at 17-11, but a late surge by Bowdoin reminded us that no one would lay down at tournament time as they narrowed the lead to 3 at 23-20, but we traded points to close out the set 25-22.  The second set was more of the same, with us leading by a few points, up 6 again with a 17-11 lead again mid way through the set, but we maintained a 3-4 point lead right up to the finish for a second set win of 25-18.

The third set started out somewhat the same, trading points and small runs for an 8-8 tie before a surge by Bowdoin put them up 17-11 this time.  Their lead grew to 13-24 before we mounted a final push, scoring five straight points, but eventually fell 18-25.  We thought the late surge by us would give us some momentum heading into the 4th set, still leading 2-1 in sets for the match.  The fourth set would be one of strings of points by both teams.  We went up early 5-1, then they came back to go up 11-7.  We were back and forth pretty much the whole time after that, with multiple ties and then small surges by both teams.  Tied at 21-21, we scored three straight points to go up 24-21.  Despite sitting on three match points, we couldn't convert them for the win.  We traded points one more time for a 25-25 tie, before their right side scored the final two points to force a 5th and deciding set.

The fifth set was a battle, but three separate 3 point strings by Bowdoin seemed to put the match out of reach for us.  Tied at 3-3, they scored 3 straight to go up 6-3, and again to go up 9-4, and finally when we trailed 10-12, they scored the final three to take the match.  It was a disappointing loss for sure, and this one will hurt for a while, I'm afraid.  For the seniors, it's not the way any of us wanted their careers to end, but we kept fighting to the end.  For the rest of us, we'll try to learn from this as we always do, and move forward for next year.

For our four seniors, they've given so much to our Program over their careers.  They've been NESCAC Champs and regionally ranked almost every year.  They were 64-27 for their careers, and ALL four were selected for the Senior Classic by the New England Volleyball Coaches.  (We'll do a separate blog entry for that, but that's a very nice honor.)  It's a tribute to them as players and to the Program and speaks volumes about what those seniors contributed over their careers to have all been honored!  Congrats Becca, Emily, Alice and Eliana!!  We will certainly miss you four next year!!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Tough Final Regular Season Conference Weekend

Our final Conference weekend of the regular season was also Homecoming here at MIDD, so we had a special visitor see us off as we left for Hamilton--THANKS GABI!!  The last time we traveled to Hamilton, we ran into extreme traffic delays due to the Interstate being shut down, and didn't arrive until 9pm for our 8pm match.  This time we arrived in plenty of time, and even saw several students traveling around campus in Halloween costumes already. 

We started strong, jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first set, but after that ended up with 6 different tie scores, the final one being 20-20 when they scored 5 unanswered points to end the set.  We again got off to a big lead in the 2nd set, posting scores of 11-3, and 18-12, but again they fought back to 22-20, but this time we closed it out 25-22.  The 3rd set was a back and forth affair, with us getting down a few points early, only to go up by a few points, and finished up closing out a close set with the 25-22 win.  The 4th set they pretty much dominated from start to finish as we really couldn't get anything going.  Unfortunately, our woes continued into the start of the 5th set as we fell behind 0-6. We did fight back to within 3 at 9-12, but couldn't pull out of that big of a hole and dropped a tough 5 setter to Hamilton.

We spent the night in Utica, NY and made the trip to Williamstown the next morning.  It was a gorgeous weekend, and we arrived in time to walk the little street there to stretch our legs, and get a coffee, or whatever before heading to the gym to prepare.  They were celebrating a DIG PINK event, which was very nice.  They had even bought our whole team pink shirts to wear for warm-ups, which again was very nice of them.  The gym was decked out in pink balloons, pink floor tape, and all the pink warm up shirts, so it was a festive environment. 

Our match with Williams was a bit of a roller coaster, as both teams had spells of great volleyball, and spells of not really putting it together.  We traded sets back and forth, with Williams taking a close first set 25-21.  Despite being down big most of the set, we fought back to make it a game.  With the score at 13-20, we scored 8 of 9 points to tie it at 21-21, before their final surge won them the set.  The second set, we ran away with it from start to finish, tying the match at 1-1 on a 25-11 set score.  The 3rd set we built a slow lead of 19-15 before they had a run of 8 unanswered points to take a lasting lead 23-19, and finished out the set 25-21.  We fought back in the 4th set, trading points for most of the set.  With a slim lead of 17-15, we out-scored them 8-1 to tie it up and force a deciding 5th set!

Similarly to the night before, however, we got off to a slow start in the 5th, getting behind 1-5 right off the bat.  We narrowed the lead to 1 at 7-8 before another three point surge by them put them up 11-8, and they finished out the win 15-10.  It was a disappointing weekend for sure, but we'll have a week to prepare for the NESCAC Tournament, which could be as wide open as ever this year, so we'll see what we can do here in the post season!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

MIDD Gets Two Big Wins at New England Challenge

After a tough Conference Weekend two weeks ago where we lost to both Tufts and Bowdoin, we rebounded well to take two wins from Regionally ranked foes Babson and Springfield this past weekend!  We ended up dropping our final match of the weekend to MIT, who's currently ranked #15 Nationally, but we felt good about our level of play over the course of the weekend.  Isabel was named to the All-Tournament team for her efforts, totaling  34 kills and hitting .245 against 3 ranked teams, so great job, Isabel!! 

In my opinion, we started out slowly, despite the win against Babson, but we kept upping our game over the weekend, and had possibly our best overall performance really, against MIT.  Babson was very back and forth pretty much the whole first half of both of the first two sets, but we pulled ahead on late runs both times for a 2-0 lead heading into the 3rd set.  Babson lead most of the 3rd set until we tied it at 17-17 and traded points until a service ace gave us match point, followed by a service error, which tied it at 24-24, and then two straight kills by Babson extended the match.  The fourth set we got behind again early and tied it at 17-17 again, only to go down 21-23 before making a final push to tie it up at 23-23, and then two errors by Babson closed out the set and match win! Afterward, we went out for a sit-down dinner, which was a nice change from our weekend picnics!  Chellsa's dad brought some yummy and colorful macaroons, too!

On Saturday morning, we stopped for our favorite pre-game Dunks fix before heading to the gym for a full day of volleyball. 

After a back and forth start that saw us tied 8-8, Springfield jumped out to a 15-8 lead, and looked like they might run away with the first set.  We fought back with a 5-0 run of our own to close the lead to 23-20 before they closed it out 25-20.  We were down early in the 2nd agin, and trailed by at least one until a 16-16 tie mid way through the 2nd set.  We got behind again 21-19 but rallied to tie it and finished it in extra points, winning 27-25.  The third and fourth sets were back and forth again, but with us holding the edge most of the time by 1-6 points and closed out both sets for a straight set win after dropping that first one.

There was a nice break between matches on Saturday so everyone could get food and rest between matches, which was nice also.  The final match of the weekend we were up in the old gym at Williams, but it was much quieter with only one match going on, and we could at least hear each other talk on the court, which was a nice change from the very loud main gym with two matches going on side by side. 

The first two sets were very close until the mid-way point when MIT started to pull away a bit, but we were hanging in there and serving tough and receiving well, and getting some offense going, which was great.  In the 3rd set, we were behind early until we tied it up at 7-7 and never looked back, taking leads of 12-7, and 18-11 for a 25-15 finish in set 3.  The final set was again back and forth until about 16-17 and they went on a couple of runs to finish out the 4th set and match 25-18.  Overall, we blocked pretty well against a big MIT team, with Alice, Sarah and Eliana all having 4 Block Assists.  Although our team hitting % was lower than our average, Alice hit .500, Becca hit .250, and Isabel hit .229, so those were some good stats also.  Shea had a great weekend serving a total of 6 service aces in the MIT match alone, and had 12 total on the weekend! 

Our weekend concluded with a yummy Thai takeout dinner outside of the gym, which we all enjoyed!  We do love our food.  Fall Break is Monday and Tuesday this week, hopefully giving us a nice break from mid-terms as we prepare for our final NESCAC weekend facing Hamilton and Williams.  LETS GO MIDD!!!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

MCVB Splits NESCAC Home Weekend; Wins Final Home Match

We celebrated our Parent's weekend and Senior Day on our last home weekend when we played Conn and Wesleyan on Oct. 6-7.  Conn did not pose a serious threat behind their own errors, and a strong outing for us as we hit .241 and registered 18 block assists on the night, in addition to holding them to a -.097 hitting percentage.  We cruised to 25-13, 25-13, and 25-10 set scores and were primed heading into Saturday's match up with Wesleyan, since we were both as yet undefeated in NESCAC.

We started very strong against Wesleyan, taking the first set 25-19 behind a late surge.  We held a tight lead of 21-19 before scoring the final four points for the 25-19 first set win.  The second set we jumped out early to a 8-4 lead, and then surged ahead by scoring 9 unanswered points for a 17-4 lead that finally resulted in a 25-11 second set win.  They seemed out of sync, and our offense was firing on all cylinders.  They changed about everything they could, and by the time the 3rd set rolled around, they were running a 6-2 and had found some of their potent offense that they hadn't displayed in the first two sets.  That third set was a back and forth set, and tied at 14-14 they had a couple of late runs to go up 17-14, and 21-15 before closing out the 3rd set 25-19. 

The fourth set saw them take an early lead and then go up 9-4 before we closed it to narrow margin of 11-9.  We kept hanging in there, but trailed by 2-3 points until their final surge put them up 25-19, forcing a 5th set.  The fifth set saw us once again get behind early 1-6, and 6-10 before they got to 6 match points, up 14-8.  An error by them narrowed the gap to 5 points and brought Isabel into the game and Becca back to the service line, where she stayed until we'd tied it up at 14-14!  We showed a lot of fight, and poise and composure in that comeback, but couldn't quite finish it out and lost the final two points for our first Conference loss.  It was a rough one, that's for sure.

It was parent's weekend, however, so we celebrated as we have for years now at American Flatbread in the Marbleworks plaza.  Our student assistant coach, Jack English informed me that he'd been at that event for 5 straight years, four of them as the younger brother of Melanie '17, and now his first as a MIDD student and officially with the Team.  It was a fun night and the senior parents gave the girls very cute pillows to commemorate their MCVB time!

Wednesday night we were back on the court facing Skidmore for our final home match of the regular season and we closed out that match in three straight sets.  Isabel led the hitting on the night with 16 kills, no errors for a .696 hitting %, followed by Becca with 15 kills and a .323 hitting %.  Chellsa was back in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 16th, so that was good to see.  Emma has been doing such a great job running the offense that she currently sits at 2nd in the Conference in assists/set, which is no easy feat, so congrats to Emma!!

We're back on the road now for the final three weeks of the regular season heading to Boston and then Maine this weekend to play both Tufts and Bowdoin, and picking up another non-Conference match at Bowdoin against U-Maine Presque-Isle.  Heading into the toughest stretch of our season, we're excited to be playing some of the best teams in New England the next few weeks (both in NESCAC and in the NEWMAC), preparing us for the always tough NESCAC Championships in early November.  LETS GO MIDD!!!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday Alternative Workouts

Many of our weekends are long and involve travel and multiple matches.  In an effort to stay fresh, both mentally and physically, we often try to do something different on our Monday workouts.

So far this year, we've gone in the pool for some light calisthenics, and some fun a week or so ago.  More recently, we did team yoga with Prem!  He's a master of all things yoga, and specializes with working with teams and working specifically where athletes need it, finishing up with some meditation work.

We're really working hard on being the best we can be, mentally, physically and together as a team.  It's fun seeing the freshmen's personalities start to emerge, and we're looking forward to working together as a team time and enjoying the season as long as possible.

We're striving for balance in our season of staying in top physical shape, while also being mindful of our bodies and taking care of ourselves to stay in top mental shape as well.  Oh, and of course, keeping on top of all the academic work goes without saying, but we mention it because at the end of the day, everyone is here for the education, and we want to be a top academic team as well...namaste!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Emily and Becca Pass Career Milestones

Two of our seniors recently passed major career milestones, which is always exciting!  Emily surpassed the 1000 dig mark a week ago down at the Ramapo Invitational, and Becca passed the 1000 career kill mark during our first set against Bates on Friday night.

Both are major milestones for a career--Emily's puts her near the top ten in Program History, and she'll definitely finish the season easily in the top 10 for career digs.  Becca's weekend puts her in 5th all time for career kills, and she'll climb that list throughout the rest of the season as well.  Becca was also named the NESCAC Player of the Week before reaching this milestone based on her performance the week before.  Congrats to both of them for these wonderful achievements!

MIDD Sweeps First Home NESCAC Weekend (on Brian's Birthday!)

Our first of two home NESCAC weekends got off to a great start on Friday night beating a very tough Bates team in 4 sets.  Early in the first set, Becca eclipsed the 1000 Career Kill mark to become only the 5th player in Program history to do so, which prompted a quick "Becca" chant from the crowd after it was announced between sets!  And, it was Brian's birthday, so we got to celebrate after our win with cake, too.

On the evening, we needed to come from behind in every set to win, and we showed a lot of composure in doing so.  In the first set we got behind early 4-8, but then tied it up at 14-14.  We then took a small lead, and then traded points before going up for good at 22-21 and finished out the first set 25-23.

The second set was back and forth again through 9-9, but then they took a 10-15 lead which they held until we were able to tie it at 19-19 and held that lead for a 25-22 second set win.  The third set was more of the same.  They scored the first 4 points, and we scored the next 5.  After trading points for most of the rest of the set with only small runs by either team, they went ahead for good at 19-20 and closed out the 3rd set 21-15.  The fourth set had 12 tied scores with neither team really able to pull away from the other.  Tied at 20-20, we took our final lead that we wouldn't let go of 21-20 on a kill by Alice, followed by a service ace from Becca and we went on to win the match 25-22.

It was a great match, and we showed a lot of poise and composure in competing, and we talked about this after the Amherst match this year also--this is NESCAC!  There are going to be a lot of matches like that, and we need to embrace the challenge and enjoy it!  We are tracking our team goals each game, and we're doing a great job of hitting these goals.  We keep moving forward and striving for these goals, and if we fall short of one, we just keep pushing for the next one, and having fun in the meantime.

Saturday proved to be a different story.  Colby came out and fought hard early in the match for a 7-7 tie, but then we pulled ahead 20-10, to finish out the set 25-13.  Each of the three sets had exactly the same score, with a similar story.  Eliana finished with a .647 hitting % on 11 kills from 17 sets, and Becca hit a .458 with 11 kills, no errors on 24 swings.  Isabel and Sarah both hit .333 with 8 and 7 kills respectively.  Eliana and Sarah both had 4 blocks, with Jaime and Emma both recording 2.  Emma continues to run the offense, and currently sits at 2nd in the Conference with 10.38 assists/set.  It was a balanced afternoon with everyone seeing playing time and contributing to the win!

With the latest Conference stats being posted, Sarah and Eliana sit 2nd and 4th in hitting %, Emma is 2nd in assists/set, and Becca and Isabel are 2nd and 5th in kills/set.  We have a very tough October coming up, and we're excited to start it at home again this weekend when we play both Conn and Wesleyan.  We'll celebrate Senior night on Saturday afternoon when we play Wesleyan since our last home regular season match will be the following wednesday.  In the words of Gabi..."Let's GO!!"

Monday, September 25, 2017

MIDD Sweeps Ramapo Invitational

This year is the first time we've been the "lone" school in the NESCAC.  One weekend each season, we all play our travel partners, which meant we had a free weekend this year since we don't have a travel partner.  We decided to play in the Roadrunner Classic, hosted by Rampapo College, where we played three non-Conference opponents.  First up on Friday night was Farmingdale State, followed by both NYU and Ramapo on Saturday.

It was a hot weekend, but fortunately there was AC in the gym at Ramapo.  Friday night we got off to a great start against Farmingdale, dominating the first set 25-11, hitting .385.  The second set we still cruised to a 25-18 win despite hitting under .200.  We may have let our focus slip away in the third set, and then to Farmingdale's credit, they responded with some renewed energy of their own, and won the 3rd set 25-23.  After regrouping, we managed to end the match 25-20, again raising our hitting % back up to .258 for the win.

We often play late on Friday nights, mostly to reduce missed class time, but this time we played at 5pm, which allowed us to actually go out and eat at a restaurant afterward, which was great.  Saturday was Sarah's birthday, and Sunday was Emma's birthday, so we celebrated with some flaming deserts offered by a parent, which was a very nice treat.  We had a wonderful showing of parents and family there this weekend with two alums (and siblings) in the house with Lauren and Olivia both there, and then at least one parent from half the team, which was really fun!  Sarah's dad was there as it was her 21st birthday, and Emma's mom made it for her birthday weekend also, along with parent(s) of Alice, Emily, Beth, Chellsa, and Gigi.   Emily's trainer was also there again to see her play, along with his adorable daughter who gave Emily the biggest hug before the match!!  Thank you for all of the support, parents and friends!

 There was also some dancing going on in the gym on Saturday morning, and I even caught some on film, but I won't post that here--whatever they're practicing for, it's looking good, guys!  :)

HOME opener is this Wednesday at 7pm when we host Colby-Sawyer College, followed by our first HOME Conference weekend on Friday and Saturday when we host Bates at 7pm Friday, and Colby at 2pm Saturday!!  LETS GO MCVB!!!

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 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!