Three Panthers Earn All-Region Volleyball Honors

(L-R): Becca Raffel, Hannah Blackburn and Isabel Sessions.
(L-R): Becca Raffel, Hannah Blackburn and Isabel Sessions.


Three members of the Middlebury College women's volleyball team were honored when the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) and New England Women's Volleyball Association (NEWVA) handed out postseason honors. Sophomore Becca Raffel (Palo Alto, Calif.) was a first-team All-Northeast Region and honorable mention All-American by the AVCA, while being named to the NEWVA second-team All-Region squad. Junior Hannah Blackburn (Chapel Hill, N.C.) was an honorable mention All-Region selection by both the AVCA and NEWVA, while rookie Isabel Sessions (Chicago, Ill.) was named to the NEWVA All-Rookie team.

Raffel, the 2014 NESCAC Co-Rookie of the Year, was one of two sophomores selected to the AVCA first team. The outside hitter was a first-team All-NESCAC selection and was second in the league with 357 kills and third with 3.80 kills per set while hitting .257. She recorded a career-high 20 kills in a match twice this fall, a September 19 win over Cortland State and an October 9 victory against Amherst. Raffel started all 25 matches and 94 sets, posting double-digit kill totals during 21 matches. The sophomore also tallied 224 digs en route to nine double-doubles to go along with 31 service aces and 27 total blocks. Raffel was named the NESCAC Player of the Week on September 28 when she averaged 4.12 kills per set and hit .316 in a 4-0 week for the Panthers. She also averaged 2.35 digs per set and had three blocks.

Blackburn earns her first all-region honor after being named second team all-conference in each of the last two seasons. The junior setter finished third in the NESCAC with 9.68 assists per set this season, dishing out 910 overall. She led the squad with 44 services aces, placing her in a tie for third in the league. Blackburn also earned 283 digs (3.01 per set) and chipped in with 54 kills. She earned a career-best 53 assists on September 19 in a victory over Cortland State, 10 times dishing out 40 or more in a match. Blackburn became the fourth Panther setter in program history to eclipse the 2,000-assist plateau when she handed out 29 helpers on October 30. The junior has racked up 2,108 assists headed into her senior season.

Sessions produced a solid first year on the volleyball court for the Panthers, appearing in 21 matches with 79 sets played. She was second behind Raffel in both kills (225) and kills per set (2.85), while totaling 12 service aces, 71 digs and 14 total blocks (1 BS, 13 BA). Sessions recorded double-digit kill totals in 14 matches this fall, including a season-best 19 during a four-set home victory over Amherst on October 9.