This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log for the 2021-22 season for the Medaille College women.

There were a couple of interesting results in our conference last week. The most notable was PS-Altoona beating Pitt-Bradford in 4. None of the set scores were particularly close. La Roche taking a set off PS-Behrend is also interesting. For some reason, the conference standings at the start of the week didn’t include the match between Hilbert and Pitt-Greensburg, won by the latter. So when you look at the table below, know that PSG started the week tied with Medaille.

Not surprisingly given the late stage of the season, this week’s conference schedule featured several matches likely to have implications on who makes the tournament and the seedings.

Monday

I gave the team the day off for a bit of extra recovery after playing the double-header on Saturday. My day comprised a lot of work on recruiting, mixed with scheduling for the 2022 season.

Tuesday

Fairly simple session. Serving and passing, hitting against a block, and some 4 v 4. I had all three of my men’s team student assistants in the session, so I had them block against the team while they did hitting lines. While there were definitely some frustrating moments for the players (one of the guys is 6’6″), it was also useful for them. I just wish we could have done it on Friday before playing our big blocking weekend opposition. Oh, well.

Wednesday

We made the trip to Pitt-Bradford to start the second half of our conference calendar. The two Bradford OHs ranked in the top three in Kills/Set in the conference coming into the match entering the contest. As was the case in our first trip down to PA, we started very poorly, going down 11-3 at the beginning of the first set, and eventually losing 25-9. We hit .100 while they hit .520. Things improved in the second, though we still lost 25-16.

The match got much more interesting in the third set, however. After we jumped out to a 10-6 lead, they came back to make it 11-10. We then got back on top and were up 19-15. They then clawed back to get it to 21-21. Ultimately, they won 25-23. We had 15 kills to their 10, but also had 3 more hitting errors. A couple of ill-timed service errors in the latter stages of the set didn’t help our cause.

I came away pretty happy with our offense. Facing the bigger block the prior weekend (especially RIT) and practicing against the men’s blockers on Tuesday seemed to have helped us. Our .152 hitting efficiency for the match is the best we’ve had so far in conference play (excluding the Hilbert match).

Thursday

Short session to just work on a couple of things. I had them start with Brazilian, then progressed into the Put-the-Ball-in-1 game we’ve played several times now. After that I had them serve with a focus on in-a-row as an issue we’ve had is missing serves when we really shouldn’t have been missing. The last part was some hitting work with an eye toward the defense we expected to see on Saturday. I was actually bouncing back-and-forth on the session because the men were doing their first Fall practice in the adjoining gym.

Friday

This session was again largely focused on working on things related to stuff the scouting of Saturday’s opposition. After doing some serving, we moved on to Flip-Switch. That was largely to give the players work on serving specific seams, but of course also gave the passers reps. After that it was all about game play. The first part was a series of 4v4 back rows. They were continuous play, with the team who lost the previous play getting a tossed ball to send over to the other side. We then moved to a MB-OH vs MB-RS version of 22 v 22.

Saturday

Our last home match of the year featured Mt. Aloysius as our opposition. Of course, it was Senior Day, and Medaille also had the Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the last two classes that evening. On top of all that, this was a season-deciding match. The conference situation was that we needed to win to realistically have a shot at making the tournament.

Despite what was at least one of – if not the best – performances of the year, we didn’t get that win. We had difficult start to the match, getting behind 11-5 in the first. Although we clawed back a bit, it eventually reached 17-9 before we really started to play the way we can. We weren’t helped by a period where we missed 4 out of 6 serves. Ultimately, we lost 25-20.

The next two sets were a totally different story. Our serving improved and everything else seemed to follow. Both sets ended up 25-13, and we hit over .400 in the 3rd set, which might be our best set hitting performance of the season.

The fourth started off very even, but some errors on our side eventually put us behind 14-9. The middle of the set was fairly even, though toward the end we got on top of things and managed to get it level at 20-20. From there we eventually pulled ahead to 24-21. A missed serve, a blocked attack, and a kill by them leveled it up at 24. We had multiple opportunities at match point up to 29-28, but couldn’t convert. We lost 31-29, then dropped the 5th 15-11 despite a 6-3 start. It was very similar to how we lost our match at Wells a few weeks prior.

And thus ended our chances for post-season play. We are 2 wins behind Mt. Aloysius and La Roche for the last spot in the tournament. While we do have 2 matches left, even if we win both that would at best put us level, and on the wrong side of the tiebreak.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Men's & Women's Head Volleyball Coach at Medaille College, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy (formerly Charleston Academy). His previous experience includes the college and university level in the US and UK, professional coaching in Sweden, and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. Learn more on his bio page.

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