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!


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!