The Middlebury volleyball team grabbed a key NESCAC win Friday with a 3-2 road triumph (22-25, 25-23, 25-16, 17-25, 15-11) over host Colby inside Wadsworth Gymnasium. Middlebury (14-3, 5-2) returns to the court in Maine on Saturday for another pivotal league match with Bates at 2:00 p.m.
The Mules (8-10, 3-5) got off to a terrific start in the first set and led 20-16 after a Kim Donaldson kill. The Panthers battled back with a 5-0 run and took a 21-20 advantage. With the score 22-22, the Mules scored on a Panther service error, a Donaldson ace and a kill by Emily Moslener to close out the set.
The Panthers seemed to be in control in the second set after a good start. Middlebury led 16-12 when the Mules chipped away and tied the match at 20-20. The set was knotted at 23-23 when the Panthers scored the final two points, the last coming off a Gabi Rosenfeld kill.
The third set was much closer than the final score indicates. The set was tied for the 10th time at 14-14 when Isabel Sessions served 10-straight points.
Colby had the momentum after a convincing fourth-set victory. Colby used a 5-0 run in the fourth set to take a 12-6 lead and were never challenged the rest of the way.
Middlebury darted to an early 6-1 edge in the fifth set. The Panthers also had leads of 6-1 and 7-2 before the Mules launched a comeback attempt. Later in the set, Middlebury led 14-8 before Colby ran off three-straight points, but Hannah Blackburn smacked a kill to give the Panthers the final point in the set and match.
Becca Raffel finished with 13 kills and had a .393 hitting percentage for Middlebury. Sessions added 12 kills and three service aces, while Emily Kolodka had a match-best 24 digs. Blackburn ended the match with 14 assists and 13 digs, while Melanie English led the way for the Panthers with four solo blocks.
Donaldson had 17 kills along with three service aces and four blocks. Sarah Arvidson added 11 kills and a team-high 22 digs, while Karolina Serhan and Natalie Roy both finished with nine kills. Molly Manuel led the Mules in assists with 27 and Paige Hanssen had four aces to go with six kills.