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!