Thursday, December 1, 2016

Season Ends in NCAA Regional

What a match!  We were the only match the whole weekend that went to 5 sets, and I'm sure it was an exciting match to watch.  We were sent to the NY Regional at SUNY Brockport and were matched up in the first round against Ithaca College.  Personally, it was a good match up as the coach and I are friends and have been for years now but we don't play them in the regular season, so it was nice to see him again.  After watching film, I thought we matched up well with them player for player, and we were all excited about the opportunity to play in the NCAA's--first time for this group since we hadn't been since 2012.

Because of the distance, we practiced at home on Thursday night and then loaded the bus with Flatbread pizza's and headed for Brockport, NY.  We arrived shortly before midnight and slept soundly before heading over the the gym for our morning practice time.  The gym was very nice, but had a somewhat low ceiling so it was nice to get the feel for the gym, but that's a luxury that we normally don't have.  The match before us went in three straight, so we were right on schedule for warmups before the game, which is nice.

Ithaca proved to be a very good team, and like we thought, we matched up very well.  The first two sets were decided by only two points, both extending beyond the 25 limit, but unfortunately we came out on the short end both times.  The match seemed to be going in small runs back and forth by both teams.  It was very tightly contested, yet both teams would get leads and them come back.  We had an early lead in the first set, only to see it dwindle to a 20-20 tie, and eventually a 25-25 tie before they scored the final two points to take the first set.  The second set was the reverse with Ithaca holding early leads, and even a 16-11 lead before we fought back to tie it up 21-21 and 24-24 before they again scored the final two points for a 2-0 set lead in the match.

At that point, we switched to our 6-2 offense to try to contain their OH's a bit more with a bigger block, and that seemed to work well.  That third set started off with us trading points until we opened up a lead 20-12, but Ithaca fought back to within 3 at 23-20, but we secured the 3rd set with a 25-21 victory.  The forth set was more of the same tight, back and forth play until we again pulled away late behind some strong serving from Chellsa and pulled the match even at 2-2, forcing a deciding 5th set!

The 5th set was again more of the same, but we seemed to have the upper hand a bit, taking a 7-4 early lead, and even getting three match points, up 14-11.  I've watched this ending several times now, and we had good opportunities, but each time Ithaca came through with the counter.  We initially had a very good tip opportunity by Alice that had been working all night, and their blockers just caught it, sending it back to our side instead of it trickling down behind them.  Melanie had a great hit that they barely got up and were scrambling to keep in play, giving us a free ball, which we executed well, but they blocked us on that attempt also, and their final point came when we gave them an easier ball that they sent to their OH who put away the match winner.  Both OH's for them had 20 kills, and we were expecting one of them to be tough to contain, but not both.

Our offense was fairly balanced as it had been all season with 18 and 13 kills by Becca and Isabel, followed closely with 9 and 8 kills by Sarah and Alice.  Eliana came in for the last 3 sets and tallied 5 kills and 3 blocks, while Melanie finished her career with 7 blocks and 3 kills.  Sarah and Alice both added 3 and 4 blocks respectively, and  Chellsa led the team with 5 service aces.  Gigi led our defensive effort in the back with 17 digs followed by Emily with 11, but their libero came up with a match high 35 digs as they tallied 85 digs to our 61.  We actually ended the match with a higher hitting % (.207), more aces, and more blocks, but we just didn't come up with the points when we needed them.

I am so proud of this team!  We have been on the other (winning) end of so many matches like this during the season, and we just kept fighting each and every time.  We kept our composure, and made some big plays, and this time, it just didn't go our way.  I give credit to Ithaca as they came up with the plays they needed to win, but it was a great match all the way around.

We'll wrap up our season soon with our banquet and final meetings, and then most of our juniors will go abroad, we'll see our seniors finish up their college days, and then we'll welcome the new freshmen and do it all again next year!  I love my job!!  :)  Happy Holidays to everyone!!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

MIDD Wins NESCAC Championship!!

NESCAC Championship weekend--what FUN!  We had to start out by beating Bates in the Quarterfinals after having lost to them just a week before.  It was a very tough match, as we expected, but our defense was much improved from the first time we played them as we out-blocked them, had almost as many digs, and hit .241.  Becca had a career high kill night with 22, and Hannah had career high digs with 27.  Alice had a match high 6 blocks while Mel had 5 and Sarah had 3 to double their team blocks 12-6.

Because we'd played the early match as the #2 seed, we were able to both watch a bit of the 3vs6 match, and go out to dinner at a restaurant, which was a nice treat.  Our Conference weekend matches are set at 8pm on Friday nights, so we never go to a restaurant afterward because it's so late, which was very nice!

After dinner, we headed back to our hotel for a good night's sleep.  A little before midnight, however, the fire alarm went off and we all had to evacuate the hotel for about 20 minutes or so until they could give us the all-clear to go back inside.  Some were already in bed, or at least ready for bed and thus decked out in jammies and no socks/shoes outside!  Nothing holds back a Panther, though, and the next morning we were up and ready to face Amherst!

We were on a roll for the Amherst match, sweeping them 3-0, and were really clicking with our offense as we hit .281 and held very slight advantages in digs, aces, and blocks.  The first and third sets were tightly contested while the 2nd set we ran away with a little more.  We found ourselves down late in both of those tight sets, and had to come from behind for the wins.  We trailed 17-19 in the first, going on a late surge to win 25-22.  Up 2-0 in sets, we got behind in the 3rd set early 8-14, but pulled even at 20-20, and then traded points a bit before scoring the final two points for the 3-0 win 25-23.

We were headed back to the finals for the first time for anyone in this group, and thus earned another dinner out, which was great!  We could get used to this!  We stayed at a different hotel Saturday night and found an Outback Steak House to eat at near our hotel.  Another good night's sleep, and we headed back to Tufts for the Championship match on Rose's birthday!!




Our Field Hockey team was also at Tufts for the weekend playing in their NESCAC Championship also.  It was fun to see them and wish them well in their final also.  It's always nice to have one of our MIDD teams at the same location as us, so GO MIDD!!

The final vs Tufts was a great match.  When we lost to them in 5 sets earlier in the season, we knew then that we'd love to have a re-match on a Sunday (which would mean that it would be the NESCAC Finals), and that's exactly what we got!  Tufts was currently ranked #1 in New England, but that didn't stop us from believing we could win!  After all, we'd already beaten a #1 Team in the region when we beat UMass Boston in early October.  We started out in our 5-1 offense as we had for the last couple of matches because it had been working very well.  Not so much on this day, however, as we lost the opening set 25-14!  We quickly transitioned to our 6-2 and took the next two sets, both by scores of 25-19 to take a 2-1 lead in sets.  The 4th set was another tight set but Tufts edged ahead late to go up 19-24.  Faced with 5 set points, we sided out, and sent Emily to the service line, still down 4 set points.  We fought back and there were many long rallies as we tied it up 24-24 on Emily's serve, only to go down a set point again, and then lost the last point on a joust at the net.

videoSo, we were on to the 5th set.  The Championship match has gone to a 5th set the last couple of years, and that just shows the parity in our Conference.  Tufts jumped out to early leads of 5-2 and 10-6 in the 5th set, but we just remained calm and kept fighting to chip away at the leads, as we had all weekend, and all season, really.  Down 6-10, we surged ahead with a combination of big plays by us and some attack errors by them to take a 13-11 lead.  They had one more attack error and then a double block by Eliana and Melanie sealed the Championship for MCVB!!  Here's a quick video of match point taken by one of our faithful MCVB family members!



By the time the 4th set rolled around, the Field Hockey game had ended and the gym started to really fill up, making for a loud, great atmosphere for the 5th set!  Our field hockey coach later told me that she didn't realize that we only played to 15 in the 5th set and was very happily surprised when it just ended 15-11 and we all rushed the floor!

Our super fans, Kathryn '16 and Meg '14 were there to cheer us on all weekend, as were other former players/parents Katie Kenney Enslin '03 and family, and Tim and Lisa Barrett P'11, P'13.  It was a thrilling finish to a great weekend, and the team, although ecstatic about the win was quite honestly exhausted afterward, as you can see from the post match picture waiting to load the bus home.

It was fun to get messages from alums and even a couple alum parents leading up to NESCAC's and again after winning our Program's 5th Championship!!  Thank you ALL for the wonderful support!!  GO MCVB--headed back to the NCAA's!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Alum Meg Anderson Spends Yet Another Birthday with MCVB

I can't believe I forgot to include this in our recent blog entry.  The birthday weekend in question as a whole was a bit of a bust; however, a highlight for sure was Meg sharing her birthday (and, let's be honest, her birthday CUPCAKES) with us when we were at MIT a couple weekends ago!  Happy Belated Birthday to Meg on Oct. 22.  For four years while Meg was playing at MIDD we were at the Hall of Fame Tournament.  Then, she spent two more years with us as a coach, and I think two years ago we were still at the HOF, and last year and this year we were at MIT.

Looking forward to seeing her again this weekend at Tufts when we start our quest for another NESCAC Championship Friday night at 5pm vs Bates!!  GO MCVB!!

(For any alums reading this, even with the #2 seed, we still play on that little upstairs court at Tufts with the half walls separating the court from the hallway!!)

MIDD Splits in Maine--Headed to NESCAC's as #2 Seed


Our final weekend of the regular season took us to Maine to play both Colby and Bates.  Colby has been struggling this season, and posed no real threat as we cruised to a 3 set sweep on Friday night by the set scores of 25-15, 25-21, 25-15.  We did meet up with our first "real" bout of snow as we crossed over the Killington gap on our way over, which is where we met our first flurries of snow the previous weekend on our way back from MIT, so winter is on it's way after a gorgeous Fall.

The next morning we headed to Bates to play our regular season finale, after our stop at Dunk, of course.  The fun thing in Waterville was that there was a Tim Hortons just a couple of stores down from the Dunkin Donuts, which made Claire VERY happy!!

Onward to Bates, where we met more than our match that day.  They were super pumped up for senior day, and they even gave our seniors flowers, which was a very nice touch and much appreciated.  Bates came out on fire, and dominated the first set scoring 5 points in a row on two separate occasions for leads of 11-5, and 20-10 to eventually take the first set 25-11.  The second set was more back and forth, but they were still scoring points in bunches whereas we were just getting one at a time, for another lopsided set score of 25-15.  We seemed to find a groove in the 3rd set, jumping out to a 9-3 lead, and expanding it to a 20-10 lead before a late surge brought them to 24-16, when we closed out the set on a kill by Sarah.  The final set was unfortunately marked by point runs by Bates again as they jumped out to a 13-3 lead that proved to be too much to come back from.

Overall, we made too many errors as we hit only .103 for the game, and had only 39 kills to go with our 23 hitting errors.  Bates defense was all over the place, and they got every ball up it seemed, along with their OH's coming up with 16, and 17 kills respectively while ours hit .050 combined, and we were out-blocked...Isabel was our only player in double digit kills, but unfortunately had double digit errors also, and Alice and Sarah were the only ones to hit over .100, along with Mel, so it was a tough day for MCVB all together.

The good news for us is that we'll get an immediate shot at redemption on Friday night when we play them in the NESCAC Quarterfinals at Tufts!  We're excited about the opportunity to redeem ourselves, and are looking forward to putting it all together this weekend for a fun (and hopefully long) weekend of volleyball!!

On another note, Halloween started out our week, which was a fun way to get the week started.  Here's a picture of only some of our MCVBees...and a hot dog?!  :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Rough Weekend for MCVB

The New England Challenge Tournament proved to be quite a challenge for MCVB.  Our first stop on our trip was at Panera, where we scored some extra baguettes, which was a fun start!  We were headed to play Babson that night before going to MIT on Saturday to face both Springfield and MIT.  The regional rankings going into the weekend had Tufts at #2, MIT #4, Springfield #5, MIDD #6, Williams #10, and Babson #13. 

Having faced Babson earlier in the season, we felt like we knew what they wanted to do offensively, and although they are a very good team, we thought we matched up well, and felt prepared for the battle.  The match was being played in honor of one of the Babson players who's currently battling cancer and is taking some time away from school, but was there to support the team.  I know this player well, and want her to know that MCVB is supporting her fight as well.  She looked great, and is doing well right now, so keep up the fight, Olivia!

Unfortunately, we didn't bring our A-game, and had trouble finding consistency.  We had wild swings within the sets, jumping out to an 8-2 lead in set 1, only to see it get cut right back to 8-7.  Then, after being tied 17-17, we edged a lead out to 21-17 before they went on a 6-1 spurt to put us down 22-23 and calling our final timeout.  We would only score one more point as they went on to take the first set 25-23. In the second set we traded points until about 8-8 before they surged ahead 17-12.  We made a little headway, but lost that set 25-20.  The 3rd set we were down again, and facing elimination down 16-23, we fought our way back with a 5 point run to get to 21-24, and then staved off three match points to go on another 5 point run to take the 3rd set 26-24!  I thought we were coming out of our funk, but alas, it was not true and after being tied 7-7, we lost the 4th set 25-14.

It was a torrential downpour outside, with flash flood warnings popping up on our phones like crazy.  We made slow going back to the hotel, but ordered food to be delivered, and finally got to eat around 11pm.  The next morning was a pretty quick turn around as we headed back into Boston at 8am to prepare for our 10:30 bout with Springfield.  That match was pretty ugly, honestly, from our perspective.  They have a powerful offense with a 6'2" All American middle hitter, so if you can keep them out of system, you can win, but we couldn't get in system ourselves long enough to force them out of system, and some key serving errors at bad times just made it that much worse, and we ended up losing in straight sets without really competing for the match at all.

MIT was our last match of the weekend, and I actually felt good going in.  I thought we matched up well, and if we could get our defensive/receive game back, I liked our chances.  Fortunately, we did start to block again, which was nice to see, but we didn't find our consistency on any front, and ended up losing in straight sets.  The 2nd set was very competitive, and we fought for the other two, but came up short.

It was a challenging weekend of non-conference, top regional opponents, so it was a great test for us.  Although we didn't perform as well as we wanted to by any means, I think we learned a lot, and will come back hungry for practice this week heading into our final two Conference matches before the NESCAC Tournament.  It's all about getting better every day as a team, so I'm confident that we'll continue to do just that.   We like to stress with the players that it's not what happens that matters most, but it's how you react to what happens.  Things don't always go your way, and bouncing back and showing resiliency is a very important life skill, and we're testing that out right now!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Some Fall Break Fun...

Following a nice home stand where we won 3 of 4 key NESCAC matches, we also had Fall Break on Oct. 17-18.  No class on Monday and Tuesday after senior day isn't all bad, although sometimes it's nice when it comes after long road trips, but we'll take any break we can get.  Mid terms seem to drag on and on, so it's nice for the team to get a break when they can sleep in and catch up on some work, and have a couple of days without the schedule of classes, etc.  With this extra time, we decided to have some good ole Laser Tag FUN! 

It's all for fun, and there was no competing going on between the red and blue laser tag teams...no, none at all...

We all split into three groups for the laser tag competitions, and then jumped in the bounce house, and played some games.  Good, old fashioned fun in my mind! Nerf is a great host, and he loves to have the teams come by, so thank you, Nerf, for a great time!!



Thursday, October 20, 2016

Melanie English '17 Named Phi Beta Kappa

The weekend of Oct. 7-8 proved to be a very busy weekend indeed.  Not only did we face two key NESCAC foes on our home court and celebrated Parent's Weekend, but Melanie was honored as Phi Beta Kappa!!  She was one of only 13 students to receive the prestigious academic honor, and we couldn't be more proud of her!  Well done, Mel!!