The Middlebury volleyball team saw its season come to an end with a 3-1 (21-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-18) loss to Clarkson in an NCAA Regional hosted by their opponents. The Panthers finish the season with an impressive 23-7 record. Third-seeded Clarkson will face fourth-seeded SUNY New Paltz in the regional finals on Sunday afternoon.
In the first set, Middlebury came out firing from the outside and middle, but finished off the game by keeping the Knights on their toes from the service line. The Panthers were able to take a 19-19 tie and push it to a 25-21 win thanks to aces from Lizzy Reed and Kathryn Haderlein. However, in the second set, the Golden Knights made some adjustments and added another wrinkle to their offense. In the first set, Clarkson got more than half of its kills from rookie Victoria Kirkemo, mostly from the back row, a change added classmate Aishvina Arasu to the mix. Arasu dealt a number of kills, including the set-winner, and coupled with another dominant performance from Adrienne Walker in the middle to lift Clarkson to the win.
The third set was another nail-biter, despite the fact that Clarkson had a five-point lead (22-17) in the late-going. Capitalizing on Clarkson errors and using another Haderlein ace to pull within one point, Middlebury was unable to complete the comeback as Kirkemo dropped an ace on the side line to end the set, 25-22.
It appeared as if Middlebury would force a fifth game early on in the fourth set as it used kills from Megan Jarchow and Amy Hart to take an early lead, but Clarkson rallied back thanks to some errors by the Panthers. Those errors changed the complexion of the set shortly thereafter as well. Clarkson led 10-9, but pushed out to a 19-12 edge with kills from Arasu, Kirkemo, Lauren Hutchinson and Bailey Walker along with three more Middlebury miscues. Though the Panthers had plenty of fight remaining, the final tally finished at that same seven-point gap between the two teams.
Arasu led Clarkson with 19 kills while Kirkemo contributed 17 kills, including seven in the first set. Lani Durio had team-highs with 40 assists and two aces, and also contributed 10 digs. Erika Chin punched up 16 digs to lead the team.
For Middlebury, Amy Hart had 15 kills and matched that total with 15 digs. Jarchow also reached double figures in kills with 11 and added a trio of block assists. Haderlein led the team with 35 assists and also aced Clarkson on four occasions. Caitlin Barrett came through with a match-high 19 digs.
Hart was named to the all-tournament team.