The Middlebury women's volleyball team won its third-straight match as the Panthers (6-2) picked up a 3-1 (25-23, 25-19, 22-25, 25-14) win over in-state foe St. Michael's (5-3) on Wednesday night. Middlebury returns to action Friday night when it visits Hamilton.
Becca Raffel paced Middlebury with 17 kills and 16 digs, while Eliana Schaefer turned in 13 kills. Hannah Blackburn dished out 43 assists while adding eight digs and two service aces and Charlotte Devine totaled 24 digs and three aces. Isabel Sessions added eight kills and three aces.
Kelsey Flaherty recorded 18 of the Purple and Gold's 43 kills, adding 10 digs. Candace Washington tacked on eight kills and six blocks. Catie Weller turned in 30 assists, 12 digs, five kills and three aces, while Megan Mulvaney had five kills and five blocks.
Neither team led by more than two points in the early stages of the first set until an 8-2 run put the hosts ahead 16-9 on a tandem block by Mulvaney and Washington. Flaherty's kill kept the Purple Knights up 18-12 before Middlebury countered with an 11-2 run of its own, highlighted by Sessions with three kills and a block. Saint Michael's eventually trailed 24-21 before Flaherty's kill capped a quick two-point spurt, but Raffel dropped a kill at set point.
The teams played through nine ties in set number two, with consecutive aces from Devine capping an 8-1 run that gave the Panthers a 20-14 edge. After McNamara's kill brought her team within 21-17, Raffel picked up a pair of kills in a concluding 4-2 run.
Seven more ties occurred in the third set, while Flaherty turned in three kills during a key 7-1 run that gave Saint Michael's a 20-16 edge and the final lead. Raffel's kill was followed by an error by the hosts that made it 23-22, but McNamara countered with a kill before a Panther error gave the Purple Knights the final point.
Raffel's kill for the opening point of the fourth set put the visitors ahead for good. Flaherty notched a kill that created a 12-9 deficit, but Schaefer had two kills in a 7-1 response, and her ace later gave Middlebury its first 11-point lead at 24-13.