Middlebury Secures Top-Four NESCAC Seed, Eases Past Connecticut College

Piper Underbrink tied for team-high honors with nine kills during Friday's win.
Piper Underbrink tied for team-high honors with nine kills during Friday's win.

The Middlebury volleyball team eased past visiting Connecticut College in a key NESCAC matchup Friday evening inside Pepin Gymnasium by scores of 25-18, 25-20 and 25-13. With the win, Middlebury (12-10, 6-3) secures a top-four seed and concludes the regular-season portion of its schedule Saturday against Tufts at 2:00 p.m., while Connecticut College (13-10, 4-5) travels to Hamilton.

In the opening set, the Camels quickly grabbed the first three points. Middlebury responded with three-straight points on kills from Olivia Kolodka and Becca Raffel sandwiched around a service ace by Emily Kolodka to knot the set at 3-3. The two teams went back and forth with neither side possessing more than a three-point edge. With the set tied at 15-15, the Panthers went on a 4-1 run capped off by a kill from Piper Underbrink and led 19-16. The Camels chipped away and cut the deficit down to a pair at 19-17 and 20-18, but the hosts rattled off the final five points, including the final point on a kill by Melanie English, and took the first set.

The two squads split the opening six points of the second set. Tied at 3-3, Middlebury rattled off a quick 5-1 spurt finished off on a kill from E. Kolodka and led by an 8-4 score. Conn. battled back to within one at 9-8, but the Panthers tallied six of the next eight points for a 15-10 advantage. The Camels pulled to within four at 18-14 on a kill from Ella Johnson, but Middlebury scored the next two points on a kill by Underbrink and a service ace by Charlotte Devine and were never threatened again in the set.

In the third set, Middlebury raced out to advantages of 5-0 and 14-3 and cruised to the 12-point decisive set victory.

Underbrink and Roberts tied for team-high honors with nine kills each, while English hit .778 with seven kills on nine attempts and no errors. Raffel also had seven kills, while Hannah Blackburn handed out 35 assists to go along with a pair of service aces. Lizzy Reed finished with nine digs and two service aces, while English had two block solos and three block assists.

Andrea Mullaney led the visitors with eight kills, while Johnson finished with six. Katia Elisman and Emily Arterbury shared the setting duties with 12 and 10 assists respectively, while Chloe Ainley led the defense with a match-best 10 digs.