Middlebury Suffers 3-2 Loss to Tufts

Hannah Blackburn dished out 28 assists to go along with 15 digs and four service aces.
Hannah Blackburn dished out 28 assists to go along with 15 digs and four service aces.

Middlebury saw its eight-match winning streak come to an end, falling to Tufts in five sets Saturday by scores of 25-17, 14-25, 25-22, 17-25, 15-11 in Pepin Gymnasium. The Panthers (11-4, 4-2) return to the court Tuesday when they visit Skidmore at 7:00 p.m., while Tufts (14-1, 7-0) hosts Babson the same day.

With the opening set tied at 5-5, the Panthers tallied the ensuing five points, capped off on block assists by Isabel Sessions and Sarah Staver for a 10-5 advantage. The Jumbos chipped away at the deficit and grabbed a 16-15 edge on a Middlebury attack error. Kills by Middlebury's Eliana Schaefer and Alice Roberts sandwiched around a kill from Tufts' Katie Kim knotted the set at 17-17. The Jumbos recorded the final eight points of the set, capped off by an Elizabeth Ahrens' service ace for the final point.

In the second set, Middlebury secured leads of 4-0 and 12-6 on a kill from Becca Raffel, forcing Tufts to call a timeout. After the stoppage, the Panthers rattled off a 10-3 run for a 22-9 lead and tied the match at a set apiece with a 25-14 final.

The third set was tightly contested with neither side holding more than a two-point advantage. Tied at 18-18, kills by Kim and Alexandra Garrett for the Jumbos gave the visitors a narrow 20-18 edge. Middlebury answered with three of the next four points to knot the set at 21-21, but back-to-back kills by McKenzie Humann and Garrett gave the Jumbos an advantage they never relinquished for a 2-1 lead.

Tufts jumped out to a 7-2 advantage in the fourth set capped off on block assists from Humann and Brigid Bell. The Panthers responded with a 10-4 run of their own for a 12-11 edge on a kill from Roberts. The teams traded the next few points and with the set tied at 13-13, Middlebury put together a 7-2 spurt and eased to the 25-17 victory.

The final set saw Tufts score five of the first seven points for a 5-2 lead, including a pair of kills from Kim. The Panthers clawed their way back into the set, tying it at 9-9 on a Jumbo attack error. Tufts recorded six of the final eight points for the win and the five-set conference victory.

Sessions' 13 kills paced the Panthers, followed by Raffel with 10 and Roberts with nine. Hannah Blackburn had a solid all-around match with 28 assists, 15 digs and four service aces. Raffel earned a team-high 19 digs, Gigi Alper added 16, while Melanie English had five total blocks.

Kim paced Tufts with 16 kills, while Bell and Mary Maccabee each had nine. Angela Yu dished out 25 assists and Katie Zheng contributed 17, while Klimo (21), Garrett (17), Bell (11) and Yu (10) each recorded double digits in digs. Humann had a solid match at the net with seven total blocks.