The Middlebury women’s volleyball team saw its season come to an end with a 3-1 (21-25, 25-22, 27-25, 25-18) loss to Cortland State (42-1) in an NCAA Regional final at Clarkson. The Panthers finish the season with a 23-9 mark, advancing deeper into the NCAA Tournament than any team in school history.
During the second set, neither team could get much of an advantage as the teams traded points back and forth. Cortland had a pair of three-point leads, including a 20-17 edge that forced a Middlebury timeout. The Panthers came back with three straight scores to tie the game at 20-20, and the two teams were still tied at 22 when Ashley Coyle delivered back-to-back kills to give Cortland a lead it would not relinquish. Sheena Asibey closed out the set with a block to tie the match up at 1-1.
In the pivotal third set, it appeared as if Middlebury would pick up some momentum and put Cortland on the brink of elimination, leading 10-5 and pushing Cortland into a timeout. After the team traded points to make the score 11-6, Cortland streaked for eight straight points to take a 14-11 lead and never lost the lead again. Julia Gibbs of Middlebury put a scare into the Red Dragons with consecutive aces to cut the gap to two late, but Cortland responded to take a three-point edge, 23-20. However, the Panthers scored three straight points to tie the score once again, and the two teams needed extra time when they exchanged the next four points. Ashley Coyle delivered yet another kill and Aubrey Barrett continued her outstanding tournament performance with a kill to close out the set, which Cortland won, 27-25.
The fourth set was tight as well with the Red Dragons up by just a single point, 15-14, following a kill from Middlebury's Amy Hart. But once again, Cortland went on a streak of seven straight points thanks to three straight blocks from Aubrey Barrett, giving the Red Dragons a 22-14 lead. Though the Panthers scored a handful of points to keep the set going, the early celebration began on the Cortland bench and pushed on to the court after a kill from middle hitter Kaitlyn Cooper gave Cortland the 25-18 victory.
Cortland's Ashley Coyle, the Regional's Most Outstanding Player, finished with 16 kills and 16 digs and Katie Wick added 11 kills and 18 digs. Sheena Asibey produced nine kills and six total blocks in the middle for the Red Dragons. Kristen Guercio had 44 assists and was chosen to the All-Regional Team as was Aubrey Barrett. Cortland finished with 13 blocks and hit .483 in the final set (15-1-29).
For Middlebury, Hart, Jarchow, and Gibbs were each named to the All-Regional Team. Hart hit .433 in the match with 16 kills and just three errors in 30 swings while Jarchow had 17 kills and a .316 hitting percentage. Gibbs produced 52 assists and five aces and Caitlin Barrett had 16 digs for the Panthers. Jane Handel also had 15 kills and 15 digs, but was forced into 13 errors against Cortland's block.