Volleyball Cruises Past Bates In NESCAC Opener

Hannah Blackburn recorded a career-high seven service aces during Saturday's win.
Hannah Blackburn recorded a career-high seven service aces during Saturday's win.

The Middlebury volleyball team began the NESCAC portion of its schedule with a straight-set victory over visiting Bates by scores of 25-15, 25-16 and 25-19. The Panthers have almost a week off before they return to the court on Friday when they host Hamilton at 8:00 p.m., while Bates hosts Saint Joseph's (Maine) on Thursday.

In the opening set, Middlebury raced out to a 7-2 lead capped off on a kill from Piper Underbrink on an assist from Olivia Kolodka. The Bobcats answered with a 6-3 spurt, pulling to within a pair at 10-8. The Panthers answered, scoring nine of the next 12 points for a 19-11 lead, eventually earning the opening-set victory.

During the second set, Middlebury raced out to a 9-3 edge capped off via a kill by Alice Roberts. Following a Bates' timeout, the visitors scored three of the ensuing four points, pulling to within four at 10-6 on a kill from Nicole Peraica. Middlebury reeled off the next 10 points, including three service aces during the run from Hannah Blackburn, and grabbed a two-set lead.

The third and final set played out much like the first two as Middlebury grabbed the early lead at 7-3. The Bobcats rattled off six of the next nine points and pulled to within one at 10-9 via a Miranda Shapiro service ace. The Panthers produced a quick 5-1 spurt finished off on an Emily Kolodka service ace as Bates never got any closer.

Offensively, the Kolodka sisters led a balanced attack with 10 kills apiece, while Roberts added seven. E. Kolodka hit a team-best .308 for the match with her 10 kills and just two errors in 26 attempts along with eight digs. Blackburn handed out 34 assists, while Lizzy Reed added 11 digs. The Panthers recorded a season-best 12 service aces, including a career-high seven for Blackburn. At the net, English also added a block solo and seven block assists.

McGrath led Bates with seven kills, while Jacqueline Forney added six assists. Laryssa Schepel picked up seven digs for the Bobcats.