Middlebury and Williams split the first two sets on Saturday before the Panthers grabbed the final two for a 3-1 victory (25-21, 18-25, 25-20, 25-20) during the home regular-season finale in Pepin Gymnasium. The Panthers (14-4, 6-2) return to the court Friday when they play Babson at 7:00 p.m. as a part of the New England Challenge, while Williams (10-8, 5-3) travels to MIT at the same time.
The opening set was tied five times during the first 20 points. With the score knotted at 10-10, the Ephs tallied a quick 3-1 run, including kills from Tori Jasuta and Ally Ostrow for a 13-11 advantage. The Panthers responded by scoring five-consecutive points (16-13) with kills by Alice Roberts, Gabi Rosenfeld, Eliana Schaefer and Isabel Sessions during the spurt. Williams came back to tie the set at 17-17 on a kill by Ostrow, but Middlebury scored the next four points and grabbed a 1-0 lead.
In the second set, the Panthers led 9-6 on a kill from Schaefer, but Williams scored the ensuing seven points with kills from four different players for a 13-9 lead. The teams traded points before the Panthers cut the advantage to three (16-13) via a kill from Sessions. Williams answered back with a 5-1 run, including a pair of kills from Jasusta, and cruised the set victory evening the match at 1-1.
With the third set knotted at 10-10, Middlebury rattled off a 6-1 run, capped off by a service ace from Gigi Alper, for a 16-11 edge. The Ephs slowly chipped away at the deficit, cutting it to just two (20-18) on back-to-back service aces by Jasuta. The hosts concluded the set recording five of the final seven points, including a kill from Sessions, for a 2-1 advantage.
Leading by a point (9-8) in the final set, the Panthers put together a 12-1 run for a 21-9 lead. Raffel had a pair of kills for the hosts during the decisive run, while Melanie English produced a solo block and two block assists. Williams nearly came all the way back via a 11-3 run, including five kills from Jasuta to cut the deficit to 24-20. A kill from Sessions down the line secured the set and the match for the Panthers.
Sessions paced the balanced Middlebury offense, finishing with 11 kills to go along with seven digs. Schaefer tacked on eight kills on 16 attempts against just one error for a .438 hitting percentage, while Becca Raffel and Sarah Staver each chipped in with seven kills. Hannah Blackburn had a double-double of 20 assists and 10 digs along a pair of service aces. Emily Kolodka tied for match-high honors with 21 digs, while Raffel had 13. English tied the school record with a career-high 12 blocks (2 BS, 10 BA), while her team block assists are a new program record. Roberts tacked on six block assists for the Panthers. Chellsa Ferdinand also had a nice all-around match of 16 assists and nine digs for Middlebury.
Williams was led by Jasuta's match-best 21 kills along with 19 digs for a double-double as well as three service aces, while Ostrow had nine kills and was tied with Kolodka for match-best honors with 21 digs. Alex Newton dished out 40 assists to go along with 15 digs and five kills, while Catie Benell tallied 16 digs. Roxi Corbell recorded eight kills and nine digs, while Morgan Richman had a block solo and three block assists for the Ephs.