Thursday, May 25, 2017

Senior Week

Senior week is that glorious time on campus between the end of finals and graduation.  It's a time when the college sponsors several activities for seniors to help them enjoy their final days at MIDD and continue to bond with their class.  It's also usually a time when I get to do some fun things with our seniors that we just don't always seem to find time for other years.

This year I was able to play 9 holes of golf with Melanie and Hannah, which was awesome!  It only took Mel a few holes to get back in the swing of things and then she started crushing the ball.  And, she did that with a set of PE clubs that were way to short for her, so nice job, Mel.  She talked about going into Law and how the golf course is a means of connecting and sometimes conducting business, so I'll guess that there's a lot more golf in her future, and she'll show up more than a few of her male counterparts, I think!

Hannah braved the course with us as her first golf outing other than Putt-Putt.  As you can imagine, she was a quick learn and once we figured out that she was attempting to swing the club with a volleyball platform, we made the adjustment and she started connecting with the ball much better!  You could tell she had experience at Putt-Putt because she had a nice putting touch, which is tough to do.  I'm not sure how much golf will be in her future, but if she chooses, she could have a lot of fun with it, I predict.

I was also able to play squash with Gabi, which was equally as fun!  We got a great workout and some good chatting in also, which was nice.  Neither of us are true squash guru's, but we had some great rallies and very close matches, and each of us won some, which was nice.

Today was also our Athletic Department Senior Awards Ceremony at Mead Chapel.  It was a nice ceremony to culminate the MIDD athletic experience with all the senior athletes (or at least some/most of them!)  They did a nice job including the history of the awards and the person for whom the awards are named, which was a nice addition to the ceremony, I thought.

Thank you all for sharing your time with me this week and over the past four years!  It's always nice to connect with you in endeavors outside of volleyball, and especially before you leave when it seems that "all of a sudden" four years have gone by--this is when I start to feel old, I think.  As always, I hope to see you all back at reunions or just back to see MCVB and MIDD.  I missed Char, so I'll definitely try to connect with everyone at graduation also.

I'll post some pictures from Graduation later this weekend also, but wanted to get these fun pictures in here, too.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Study Abroad Update From Our Juniors

Study Abroad is a great experience that many of our juniors take advantage of while they're at Middlebury.  Becca, Alice and Eliana are all having fun adventures studying abroad this Spring, and we've gotten the chance to catch up a bit with Eliana and Becca.

Becca is in Cordoba, Spain and Eliana is in Copenhagen, but they've been able to get together to travel a lot.  And, they've even had some teammates visit, which is great!  Becca and Eliana went to Dublin for St. Patrick's Day, which looked like a lot of FUN!!

Eliana was then able to visit Becca in Cordoba during her break where Becca showed her all of her new favorite spots, although she assured me she also went to class while her friend was visiting!  :)

The gorgeous night picture to the right is of the two of them in front of the Parliament building in Budapest.  While there, they were met by fellow teammates (who were on Spring Break from MIDD), Rose and Sarah, and they all visited a thermal bath, which looked like fun also!

Traveling is often one of the most memorable things about studying abroad, in addition to the local language and culture immersion.  Over the years, they all assure me that they're working hard, but in a very different way than when they're on campus at Middlebury....I am thrilled to keep in touch with them and in some ways live vicariously through them as they travel the world and have these wonderful experiences that are so different from our everyday campus days in our small corner of the world.

After Budapest, the teammates traveled to Copenhagen to see Eliana's temporary home abroad.  In addition to traveling and school, Eliana has been practicing with a Danish Volleyball Team, which she reports is a great way to make Danish friends and keep up with her training.

Thanks guys for sharing your great pictures with us, and keep having FUN (oh, and keep up with your work also!)  We miss you here on campus, but it's always exciting and fun to hear and see what you've been up to.  

Alice was the first to send an update, but that was from some of her travels before she actually got to Santiago, so we'll try to get an update soon from her, but I wanted to get these great pictures and the update from the others in here while it was still reasonably timely....

Back at MIDD, we've just finished up with the Spring Student Symposium, New Student Previw Days, and Relay for Life, so we'll get those updates in here before too long.  Happy Spring!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Alice Visits Ecuador en route to Semester in Santiago

Study abroad is such a great experience, and one that many MIDD students take advantage of during their junior year. Currently, Alice is reppin' MCVB in Ecuador en route to Santiago for the semester!

She was able to visit family living in Ecuador before her semester started and sent us some great pictures of some of her adventures there.
She went on a biking trip with her uncle and these gorgeous scenes were along the ride.  They went to Quilotoa and saw this gorgeous lake pictured behind Alice; they went to the refuges at the top of Cotopaxi and saw graves atop Chimborazo, which is a little different; and they also biked through BaƱos del Ambato.  

If I had to guess, I'd say that probably 80% of MCVB players do some kind of study abroad, either for a semester or shorter trips just during J-term.  In the past 20 years we've had one player (shout out to Luz '04!) go abroad for the year, and one student-assistant coach (shout out to Blair '01!) go abroad for the year, but most often it works to go for a semester or a month. There are so many different programs that the opportunities seem almost endless.  They can span one month or several months, and can be language intense, or in English-speaking parts of the world.  Wonderful experiences, all!

Stay tuned for more updates from Alice, Becca and Eliana as all three are studying abroad this semester!  Thanks for sharing, Alice! 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Winter 2017 4v4 Tournament

 It was great to see Pepin Gym filled with volleyball in January!  Several teams gathered for our 3rd or 4th annual 4v4 Tournament and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun Sunday.  The main picture here goes to this year's winners:  Hannah's team!

Sarah organized the tournament and reviewed the rules with everyone before the start:  no tipping in front of the attack line, men hit from back row only, but can block, only one MCVB present or former on each team, and I think that's most of the rules.  Any team members who weren't playing that round were reffing and helping keep score.  The mic got passed around to help commentate or direct teams to the proper court, and Rose and Gabi were excellent commentators, so they are featured here enjoying the mic!

I didn't get a picture of every team, but here are some pictures from the day--the main thing was definitely achieved:  FUN!!  Congrats to Team Hannah for taking home the winners tee shirts!!

Emily and her team talk strategy before their game...

Becca and team pose after winning their first game...

Chellsa's team poses for a picture while waiting for their 4th to arrive...

 Isabel and her team talk strategy, but then pose after losing their first game thinking that maybe coming in second would still be good?!

 Alice poses with her team to the left, and is shown below playing Beth's team of tracksters:  jumpers, I believe?  As you can see, one of her teammates is getting up--he took off behind the attack line to hit...

Finally, we have Team Pink Panther, which may have been the only team NOT to feature an MCVB team member?  We welcome them to the tournament and they definitely win the best team spirit award with the pink theme for all teammates, and hope to see them out here again next time, too!  

Thank you to everyone who came out to support the tournament, and we may even run one this Spring so some of the winter sport athletes can join in the fun?! Stay tuned for that... 

Happy last week of J-term!!

Monday, January 16, 2017

MCVB Teammates Unite Over Holiday Break!

We had some MCVB teammates get together over the Holiday Break before coming back to MIDD and they shared some photos with us.  Becca and Rose traveled from NorCal south to see our two SoCal girls, Gabi and Sarah. I love the shout out's to MCVB!!

Hollywood and barefoot at the beach are both great locales for a reunion of any kind!

It looked cold with grey skies, hats and jackets, but with no shoes on, it's a little hard to tell how cold it really was.  Plus, when you're used to VT winters, how cold could it be in southern California?!  :)

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!!