The Middlebury volleyball team fell Friday evening in four sets to visiting Hamilton by scores of 26-24, 25-23, 12-25 and 25-19. The Panthers (2-5, 1-1) return to the court on Saturday when they travel to take part in the Skidmore Classic. Middlebury battles St. John Fisher at 1:00 p.m. followed by a match with the host Thoroughbreds at 3:00 p.m. Hamilton (9-3, 2-0) will also take part in the same event Saturday with two matches against Skidmore and Sage.
In the opening set, Hamilton raced out to a 5-1 lead on a kill from Erin Donahue. Middlebury slowly chipped away at the lead, but the Continentals maintained a slim 14-11 advantage. Following a Middlebury timeout, the hosts responded with a quick 5-1 spurt finished by a kill from Piper Underbrink and took the lead, 16-15. The lead seesawed back and forth between the two sides until the score was knotted at 24-24. The Continentals posted the final two points and took the opening set.
During set number two, the Panthers recorded five of the opening seven points. Hamilton responded with a quick 3-0 burst, tying the score at 5-5, including a service ace from Jessica Weston. Over the next few points, the lead changed hands numerous times. With the set tied at 11-11, Middlebury produced a quick 5-1 run for a 16-12 advantage.
However, the Continentals tallied eight of the next 12 points, securing a 20-18 lead capped on a kill from Margaret O'Brien. Both sides exchanged quick mini runs before Hamilton gained a one-point edge at 23-22. Kills by Weston and Erin Casey manufactured the final two tallies for a two sets to none edge.
In the third set, Middlebury eased out to leads of 5-1, 14-4 and 21-9 before finally taking the set by a 25-12 score. The Panthers swung for a .353 hitting percentage during the set (16-4-34), including six kills from Olivia Kolodka.
During the final set, the Panthers maintained a 12-6 advantage on a kill from Charlotte Devine. The visitors answered with an 11-0 run and took a 17-12 lead on a kill off the hand of Emma Lonadier. The Continentals used that momentum and took the set and the conference win.
O. Kolodka paced the offense with 13 kills, while Emily Kolodka ended her night with 11. Hannah Blackburn handed out 40 assists to go along with three service aces, while Lizzy Reed had a match-best 17 digs. E. Kolodka and Blackburn completed their double-doubles with 14 and 13 digs, respectively, while Underbrink had two block solos and a pair of block assists.
For the Continentals, Donahue led a trio in double figures with 12 kills. O'Brien added 11, while Lonadier chipped in with 10. Kyndal Burdin tallied a double-double with 41 assists and 10 digs, while Anna Brown recorded 14 digs.