Panthers Fall to Williams in Regular-Season Finale

Isabel Sessions produced a career-high 23 kills on Saturday.
Isabel Sessions produced a career-high 23 kills on Saturday.

The Middlebury volleyball team capped the regular season Saturday with a 3-2 setback (25-21, 11-25, 25-21, 16-25, 15-10) setback at Williams. The Panthers (16-8, 5-5) earned the sixth seed in next weekend's NESCAC Tournament and open with third-seeded Bowdoin on Friday night at 8:00 p.m. Top-seeded Tufts will host championship weekend in its entirety.  

Tied 5-5 in Saturday's first set, the Ephs rattled off five-consecutive points highlighted by two kills by Ally Ostrow. Another five-point surge by the Ephs with three kills by Erin Denham moved the Ephs to an 18-13 lead. A five-point run by Middlebury with two kills from Becca Raffel brought the Panthers back to within two at 20-18. Tied at 21-21, the Ephs scored the final four points of the set for the 25-21 victory.

Middlebury stormed back to win the second set 25-11. The visitors took advantage of four Eph attack errors and opened the set with a 10-1 lead and were never threatened. The Panthers registered 14 kills in the set and hit .448 with Isabel Sessions and Sarah Staver both tallying three kills.

Williams bounced back in the third set to claim a 25-21 win and a 2-1 lead in the match. The Ephs trailed 19-16, but fashioned a seven-point run to assume a 23-19 lead. Alex Newton and Erin Denham sparked the Eph run with two kills each.

Trailing 2-1, Middlebury came back strong in the fourth set capturing a 25-16 victory, forcing a fifth and deciding set. The Panthers erupted late in the set, notching 10 of the last 12 points to win 25-16. Eliana Schaefer and Sessions led the charge with two kills apiece.

Williams opened the fifth and final set with a 5-1 lead, keyed by three kills from Denham. Middlebury clawed its way back in the set and trailed 8-7 on a kill from Sessions. Williams established a five-point lead (13-8) on a service ace by Daiana Takashima. Consecutive kills by Denham and Mia Weinland propelled Williams to the 15-10 fifth set and the league win.

Sessions paced the Panther attack with a career-high 23 kills and hit .413 for the match (23-4-46), while Raffel chipped in with 14 kills and 19 digs for her 12th double-double of the season. Emma Walsh had 44 assists and 17 digs for Middlebury, while Beth Neal tallied three service aces. Gigi Alper and Emily Kolodka tied for team-high honors with 22 digs apiece, while Schaefer had a block solo and six block assists at the net.

Erin Denham led Williams with 21 kills, while Tess Richman and Weinland both had 12. Alex Newton recorded 53 assists, while Takashima led all players with 35 digs. Ostrow recorded a match-best four service aces to go with 10 kills and 21 digs, while Richman had a pair of blocks.