Volleyball Cruises Past Colby in NESCAC Play

Eliana Schaefer finished with 11 kills on just 17 attempts and no errors during Saturday's win.
Eliana Schaefer finished with 11 kills on just 17 attempts and no errors during Saturday's win.

Middlebury continued its hot ending to the month of September with its ninth-straight win, a 25-13, 25-13, 25-13 NESCAC victory Saturday over Colby in Pepin Gymnasium. The Panthers (11-2, 4-0) return to the court Friday when they host Connecticut College at 8:00 p.m., while the Mules (2-9, 0-4) entertain Husson on Wednesday.

The hosts raced to a 6-1 advantage in the opening set on a kill from Eliana Schaefer. The Mules clawed their way back to even at 7-7 on a service ace by Mae Sefransky. Middlebury rattled off the next nine points, including three-consecutive kills from Becca Raffel, for a 16-7 lead. The Panthers were never threatened, grabbed the first set on a Mule attack error.

Like the opening set, the Panthers tallied six of the first seven points in the second frame. Colby cut the deficit to a pair (8-6) via a service ace by Paige Hanssen, but Middlebury put together another 6-1 spurt for a 14-7 advantage. Sarah Staver produced a pair of kills during the run. A kill from Colby's Nicole Petherbridge pulled the Mules to within six, but the hosts slowly pulled away for a 2-0 advantage. Gigi Alper capped off the set with a service ace for the hosts.

Tied at 2-2 in the deciding set, the Panthers scored 10 of the next 11 points, highlighted by three kills from Isabel Sessions, for a 12-3 edge. The Mules got to within eight at 17-9 on a Panther attack error, but a kill from Sessions closed out the match and the sweep.

Raffel and Schaefer paced the balanced Middlebury offense, finishing with 11 kills each. Sessions and Staver chipped in with eight and seven kills respectively, while Emma Walsh handed out a match-high 32 assists to go along 12 digs. Emily Kolodka tallied 11 digs for the Panthers, while Alper tallied a match-high 14 digs. Schaefer (4 BA) and Staver (1 BS, 3 BA) both finished with four blocks for Middlebury.

As a team, Middlebury limited Colby to an .038 hitting percentage for the match (23-19-105), while the Panthers hit .393 as a team (41-6-89) in the sweep.

Colby was led by Hanssen with a match-best 13 kills to go along with eight digs. Emily Moslener and Molly Manuel both had nine assists, while Erin Maidman concluded her match with a team-high 10 digs.