The Middlebury volleyball team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 3-1 (25-21, 25-21, 21-25, 25-22) win over Southern Vermont (24-7) at an NCAA Regional hosted by Clarkson. The second-seeded Panthers (23-6) will take on third-seeded Clarkson at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Middlebury came out swinging in the first set as Julia Gibbs was striking from all angles for the Panthers, with Amy Hart and Megan Jarchow flanking her on the attack. Despite most of the shots making it over the front line of Southern Vermont, the Mountaineers defense was up to task by keeping several balls in play. However, the Panthers serving also put the Mountaineers on their heels and made it difficult for Southern Vermont to put together much offensively in the first two sets.
The third set saw the Mountaineers find a different gear, especially for senior Jessica Alvarez, who was able to pick up a few aces and continue her onslaught offensively that saw her finish with a game-high 21 kills. In the fourth set, Middlebury held off a late charge by Southern Vermont, but its .343 hitting percentage (15-3-35) was too much for the Mountaineers to overcome.
Gibbs finished with 16 kills and 10 digs, while Jarchow and Hart produced 14 and 13 kills, respectively, with Hart adding 10 digs and three aces. Kathryn Haderlein ran the offense to a tune of 52 assists and nine digs, while Caitlin Barrett topped the team with 15 digs. Piper Underbrink also had four total blocks to go along with her .444 hitting percentage (9-1-18).
For Southern Vermont, Alvarez was a force with 21 kills on 44 swings, adding in 13 digs and three aces. Ashily Veliz also had 10 kills with no errors on 25 attacks and Carrie Baltazar had 39 assists. Vivian Delgado led a strong defensive corps in the back for the Mountaineers, contributing a team-best 17 digs.