Volleyball Splits Pair of Road Matches to Open NESCAC Slate

Isabel Sessions averaged 3.00 kills per set and picked up five total blocks in a pair of NESCAC matches.
Isabel Sessions averaged 3.00 kills per set and picked up five total blocks in a pair of NESCAC matches.

The Middlebury volleyball team split a pair of NESCAC matches on the road last week. On Friday, the Panthers edged past Trinity 3-0 in Oosting Gymnasium (25-20, 27-25, 25-20). A day later at Wesleyan, Middlebury grabbed two of the first three sets, but the Cardinals won the final two for a 3-2 triumph in Silloway Gymnasium (17-25, 25-17, 14-25, 25-22, 15-7).

In Friday’s win at Trinity, Middlebury got out to an early 10-6 lead in the first set, forcing the hosts (1-4, 0-1) to call a timeout. The Bantams kept the opening set close, cutting the deficit to 17-15. Hannah Engstrom tallied a kill for Trinity to make it a two-point deficit at 19-17, but the Panthers went on to close out the set by a 25-20 tally.

In set two, Trinity held a 9-6 lead before a kill from Underwood forced Middlebury to burn a timeout. The two teams continued to trade points before a kill by Middlebury junior Eliana Schaefer (Bethesda, Md.) and a service ace from classmate Emily Kolodka (Verona, N.J.) evened the score at 17-17. The Bantams went on a quick 3-0 run, but the Panthers came right back to tie the score at 20-20. Trinity had Middlebury on the ropes after a blast from Engstrom made it 23-21, but the Panthers scored the final two points for a 27-25 set win.

The Panthers took a commanding 19-9 lead in the third set, but a 7-2 spurt from the home team made things interesting and forced Middlebury to call a timeout. The Panthers completed the sweep on a block by junior Alice Roberts (Media, Pa.) for the 25-20 victory.

Kolodka had four of the team’s seven service aces and added a team-high 15 digs, while sophomore Isabel Sessions (Chicago, Ill.) posted an impressive .455 (6-1-11) hitting clip for the visitors. Schaefer led the offensive output with 11 kills, while Roberts had eight. Rookie Chellsa Ferdinand (Queens, N.Y.) dished out a team-best 13 assists, while senior Melanie English (Montgomery Village, Md.) paced the effort at the net for the Panthers with three block solos and three block assists.

Engstrom led Trinity with 15 kills, while Underwood flanked Engstrom on the Bantam offense with nine kills and 11 digs.

During Saturday’s back-and-forth match at Wesleyan, Middlebury scored six of the last eight points in the opening set to grab the early 1-0 lead, but the Cardinals pulled even with four-consecutive points in the second frame. The Panthers never trailed in the third set and regained the lead, before the hosts won the last two for the final outcome.

Junior Becca Raffel (Palo Alto, Calif.) led Middlebury with 17 kills and added eight digs, while Sessions contributed 14 kills. Ferdinand (25) and sophomore Rose Gold (San Francisco, Calif.) each finished with more than 20 assists, while senior Charlotte Devine (Charlottesville, Va.) had 20 digs. Roberts and English had solid matches along the net, posting one solo block and five block assists each.

Stasie Litinsky led the Cardinals with 12 kills and Nicole Hilton recorded 11. Olivia Guidotti posted 21 digs and Audrey Konow notched a match-high 43 assists to go along with four service aces.   

• Volleyball record: 3-3
• Up next: 9/21 vs. St. Michael’s – 7:00 p.m., 9/23 vs. Hamilton – 8:00 p.m., 9/24 vs. St. Lawrence – 5:00 p.m.