With a strong attack coming from all angles, Middlebury hit .297 in its NCAA New York Regional semifinal match against Skidmore College, and swept the Thoroughbreds in three sets, 25-21, 25-16, 25-23, Saturday afternoon at Clarkson University’s Alumni Gymnasium. Middlebury improved to 23-8 overall and advanced to the NCAA New York Regional Final at 4:00 pm on Sunday against the winner of Cortland and Clarkson. Skidmore saw its 13-match win streak come to an end and concluded its season with a record of 28-9.
In the first set, the two teams essentially traded points through the first half of the game, with neither gaining much of a foothold for a significant advantage. Finally, Middlebury broke out late and took a three-point edge, 18-15, to force a Skidmore timeout. However, the Thoroughbreds couldn’t complete a comeback and fell 25-21 in the first set.
The second set saw Middlebury at its most potent offensively, as the Panthers struck for 16 kills and only four errors in 31 swings (.387) including an impressive stretch from Megan Jarchow and Jane Handel which changed the shape of the set as the Panthers cruised to a nine-point win. A topsy-turvy third set made it appear as if the match would need to go beyond the minimum, but late in the set a block of Kelley Vershbow on the outside dropped to the floor and ended the match as Skidmore tried to push to extra points.
Megan Jarchow led Middlebury with 15 kills and just three errors in 28 swings, hitting .429. She was bested by Amy Hart, who had 13 kills in comparison, but hit .455 overall. Jane Handel had 14 kills and only three errors in 34 attempts. Julia Gibbs delivered 38 assists and also added four block assists. Handel and Caitlin Barrett each had 10 digs for the Panthers. Middlebury had 10 total blocks in the game, led by Madeline Firestone, who had five block assists, and Elissa Goeke, who contributed one solo block and four assists.
For Skidmore, Kelley Vershbow led the team with nine kills, while middle hitter Corinne Palmer struck for eight kills and added five total blocks. Mallory Mendelsohn guided the offense with 29 assists and also added three block assists and seven digs. Sam Friedman led the Thoroughbreds with 16 digs.