The Middlebury volleyball team capped its regular season Saturday with a 3-1 home victory (19-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-19) over Williams in Pepin Gymnasium. The Panthers (17-5, 7-3) earned the No. 4 seed in next weekend's NESCAC Tournament and open with fifth-seeded Tufts on Friday night at 8:00 p.m. Top-seeded Bowdoin will host championship weekend.
Middlebury moved out to an 8-2 lead in the opening set on a kill from Isabel Sessions. The Ephs slowly clawed their way back into the set, grabbing a 16-15 edge on a kill by Mia Weinland. Clinging to a 19-18 lead, the visitors rattled off a 6-1 run to conclude the frame, capped by a kill from Roxi Corbeil for the 25-19 win.
In a back-and-forth second set where neither team had greater than a four-point edge, the Panthers turned at 17-17 tie into a 22-17 lead. Sessions had two kills during the run for the hosts. After Williams pulled to within two at 23-21 on kill from Corbeil, a kill from Middlebury's Corley Doyle and a service ace by Gigi Alper tied the match at a set apiece.
The tight third set featured 10 ties and numerous lead changes between the teams. Middlebury gained a five-point lead at 13-8 on an Eph attack error. The visitors pulled even at 17-17 on a kill by Erin Denham. Knotted at 23-23, a Williams hitting error and a kill by Middlebury's Sarah Staver gave the hosts the set and a 2-1 advantage.
Ahead by one at 13-12 in the final set, the Panthers tallied seven of the ensuing 10 points for a 20-15 edge on a kill from Sessions. A kill by Olivia Hindy made the score 21-17 in favor of the hosts. Following a long rally, Staver tallied the final point of the match on a kill down the line to give the Panthers the set and the 3-1 victory.
Sessions tied her career high with 23 kills to go along with 14 digs for her 11th double-double of the season, while Staver tallied a career-best 17 kills on 36 attempts and had a hitting percentage of .472 for the match. Chellsa Ferdinand handed out 51 assists to go along with 14 digs, while Alper had a team-high 20 digs and a match-high three service aces. Jane Nelson and Staver each had five block assists, while Doyle posted a block solo and four block assists.
Williams was paced 16 kills each from Erin Denham and Weinland, while Corbeil added 10. Alex Newton recorded 33 assists for the Ephs, while Allison Frison dug up a match-high 22 balls. Tess Richman and Lydia Kurtz each recorded three block assists for the visitors.