Panthers Cruise Past Colby in Three Sets

Isabel Sessions finished with eight kills during Friday's win.
Isabel Sessions finished with eight kills during Friday's win.

The Middlebury volleyball team eased past host Colby in straight sets Friday evening during NESCAC play in Wadsworth Gymnasium (25-15, 25-21, 25-15). The Panthers (15-7, 7-2) concludes their regular-season schedule Saturday with a conference match against Bates at 2:00 p.m.

In Friday's opening set against the Mules (5-23, 0-9), the teams went back and forth. With the Panthers up by one (14-13), Middlebury scored eight of the next nine points to go up 22-14. Sarah Staver served a number of the points for the visitors. Alice Roberts closed out the set on a tip kill which clipped the Mule sideline for the point.

The Mules trailed 9-7 in the second set when the Panthers began to take control. With the score at 12-9, Middlebury scored four-straight points to push the margin to seven. After a point for Colby, the Panthers used a 4-0 run, concluding with two kills from Isabel Sessions for a 20-10 margin.

A kill by Beth Neal gave the Panthers a 23-13 lead in the second set, but Colby refused to give up and cut the lead down so 23-18 behind the serve of Paige Hanssen. After a Mule timeout, the hosts sliced the Middlebury edge to three at 24-21. Becca Raffel rifled a cross-court kill, securing a two-set advantage for the visitors.

Colby grabbed its only lead of the night in the third set at 6-4, but the Panthers put together a 12-2 run for a 16-8 advantage and never trailed again in the victory. Gigi Alper finished the set and the match with a knuckling service ace down the line.

The Panthers, who hit .367 as a team for the match, received 12 kills and two blocks from Staver. Sessions chipped in with eight kills, while Raffel had five kills and eight digs. Alper added nine digs and two service aces. Hannah Blackburn finished with 27 assists, while Chellsa Ferdinand added nine.

Karolina Serhan led Colby with 10 kills and four blocks, while Alexa Busser had six kills and two blocks.