The Middlebury women's volleyball team had a solid opening night to the 2017 season, as the Panthers netted a pair of wins Friday at the Union Invitational. Middlebury blanked SUNY Oneonta 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-12) in its initial match of the tournament, and capped the evening with a 3-2 triumph (25-19, 25-22, 23-25, 20-25 15-10) over the host Dutchwomen. The Panthers (2-0) are right back on the court tomorrow, facing Stevens at 1:00 p.m. followed by a match against The College at Brockport at approximately 3:00 p.m.
In the season-opening victory over SUNY Oneonta (4-3), Becca Raffel paced the offense with 14 kills and hit .500 for the match. Sarah Staver notched 10 kills on 11 attempts for a sparkling .909 hitting percentage in addition to a pair of block solos and three block assists, while Chellsa Ferdinand handed out 35 assists to go along with five kills on just seven attempts. Gigi Alper posted a team-best 11 digs and recorded three service aces in the victory.
As a team, the Panthers hit .400 with 43 kills against nine errors on 85 attempts in the opener.
The Panthers scored nine of the final 11 points of the opening set against the Dutchwomen (1-5). A 9-1 run during the second set turned a 12-7 deficit into a 16-13 Panther advantage on their way to a 2-0 advantage. In the third set, Middlebury turned away three set points before falling 25-23.
The teams traded points in the fourth before Union pulled away late in the set, tying the match at 2-2. The decisive set saw the visitors jump out to a 7-3 edge before the hosts pulled to within two, 10-8. The Panthers tallied five of the final seven points for the five-set victory.
Raffel led the attack with a double-double of 20 kills and 14 digs, while Eliana Schaefer and Isabel Sessions both recorded 12 kills. Ferdinand finished with a near triple-double consisting of eight kills, 41 assists and 15 digs, while Emily Kolodka tallied nine digs and a team-high three aces. Alper tied for match-high honors with 19 digs, while Alice Roberts recorded a block solo and five block assists at the net.