Middlebury Falls to Bowdoin in NESCAC Quarters

Emma Walsh had 39 assists and 10 digs during Friday's match.
Emma Walsh had 39 assists and 10 digs during Friday's match.

The sixth-seeded Middlebury volleyball team saw its season come to an end with a 3-2 (22-25, 18-25, 25-17, 27-25, 15-10) loss to third-seeded Bowdoin in a NESCAC quarterfinal contest on Friday evening. The Panthers claimed the first two sets inside Tufts' Cousens Gymnasium before the Polar Bears (15-9) earned the final three. Middlebury concludes its season with a 16-9 mark.

Clinging to a 9-8 lead in the opening set, the Panthers put together a quick 4-0 run, including a pair of kills from Eliana Schaefer, for a 13-8 lead. The Polar Bears chipped away at the deficit, cutting it to three (17-14) on a kill by Caroline Flaharty. Middlebury responded with six of the next seven points for a 23-15 lead on a kill by Sarah Staver. Bowdoin answered the Panther spurt, slicing it to just two (24-22) on a setting error, but a kill from Emily Kolodka gave Middlebury a 1-0 lead.

In set number two, the Panthers led by an 8-7 score before a 4-0 run put them ahead 12-7 behind a pair of kills from Isabel Sessions. Bowdoin eventually clawed its way back into the stanza, pulling to within three (19-16) on a Panther service error. Middlebury strung together six of the ensuing eight points for a 2-0 lead, capped off by a solo block from Staver and a Polar Bear attack error. In the set, Middlebury posted a .400 hitting percentage (13-1-30), while limiting Bowdoin to a .154 mark (13-7-39).

Tied at 8-8 in the third set, Bowdoin rattled off an 8-2 run for a 16-10 advantage. The teams traded the next four points before a kill from Sessions pulled the Panthers to within five at 18-13. The Polar Bears came back with the next six points, eventually winning the set on a kill by Danielle Abrams.

The fourth set saw the Panthers race out to a quick 5-1 lead. The Polar Bears answered with a 10-2 spurt, possessing an 11-7 advantage on a kill from Flaharty. Middlebury fought back, tying the set at 14-14 on a kill from Becca Raffel. Tied at 21-21, the Panthers got a kill from Schaefer, a service ace from Gigi Alper and a Polar Bear attack error. Bowdoin recorded the next four points before a kill that clipped the end line by Emma Walsh tied the score at 25-25. A pair of kills from Bowdoin's Ashley Williams evened the match at two sets apiece.

With the decisive set tied at 3-3, Bowdoin reeled off a 6-1 run for a 9-4 lead. The Panthers clawed their way back to within a pair (12-10) on a Polar Bear attack error, but a Panther service error, a kill by Williams and a service ace from Flaharty gave Bowdoin the victory.

Sessions paced the Panther attack with 17 kills, while Raffel chipped in with 11 kills and 13 digs for her 13th double-double of the season. Raffel finishes her career with 1,163 kills, ranking her fifth in the program's career record book. Walsh had 39 assists and 10 digs for Middlebury, while Alper tallied two service aces. Alper led the Panthers with 16 digs, while Shea Golden had 12 and Kolodka added 11. Staver (2 BS, 5 BA) and Alice Roberts (1 BS, 4 BA) paced Middlebury at the net.

Flaharty led Bowdoin with 18 kills, while Williams had 17 and Michelle Albright added 12. Kate Kiser recorded 55 assists, while Lisa Sheldon had a match-high 21 digs. Flaharty and Kiser both had three service aces, while Emily King added 18 digs and Kiser recorded 17. Sydney Salle had five block assists for the Polar Bears.