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!!"