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!