Volleyball Advances to NESCAC Semifinals Via Win Over Tufts

Becca Raffel finished with a match-high 15 kills along with 13 digs in Friday's win over Tufts. (photo courtesy of Brian Beard/CIPhotography.com)
Becca Raffel finished with a match-high 15 kills along with 13 digs in Friday's win over Tufts. (photo courtesy of Brian Beard/CIPhotography.com)

The fourth-seeded Middlebury volleyball team advanced to the NESCAC Tournament semifinals with a four-set victory (25-21, 25-20, 19-25, 25-16) over fifth-seeded Tufts on Friday evening at Bowdoin. The Panthers improve to 18-6 and will play the top-seeded Polar Bears on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m., while the Jumbos fall to 17-8. The other semifinal will pit second-seeded Williams taking on third-seeded Amherst on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Tied at 22-22 in the opening set, Middlebury used a kill from Gabi Rosenfeld along with a service ace and kill from Becca Raffel for the victory. In the second set, Middlebury sprinted to a 13-4 lead. At set point with a score of 24-16, Tufts pulled to within four at 24-20 via four-straight points before a Jumbo attack error gave the Panthers a set and a 2-0 lead.

The Jumbos scored the first eight points of the third set. Middlebury slowly chipped away and drew to within five at 19-14, but Tufts scored the next three points and took the third set.

In the fourth set, the two teams traded blows back and forth. Knotted at 13-13, the Panthers tallied four of the next five points for a 17-14 advantage. A kill and service ace from Rosenfeld along with a Jumbo attack error vaulted the Panthers into the semifinals.

Raffel led a balanced Panther attack that saw seven players finish with at least four kills. Raffel put down 15 kills to go along with 13 digs for a double-double, while Eliana Schaefer chipped in with seven and a .368 hitting percentage. Hannah Blackburn had 36 assists, while Emily Kolodka and Rosenfeld tied for match-best honors with three service aces, respectively.

Kolodka led five Panthers in double figures with a season-high 25 digs, while Claire White-Dzuro chipped in with 17. Rosenfeld ended her match with a block solo and match-high four block assists.

Tufts was led by Elizabeth Ahrens and McKenzie Humann with 10 kills each, while Katie Kim had nine kills and four total blocks (3 BS, 1 BA) for the Jumbos. Alex Garrett collected a match-high 30 digs, while Angela Yu dished out 33 assists in the loss.