Middlebury claimed a tight opening set and cruised sets two and three, easing past host Bates (25-20, 25-14, 25-8) on Friday in NESCAC action. The Panthers (8-2, 2-1), winners of five-straight matches, return to the court Saturday when travel to Colby for a 2:00 p.m. contest, while the Bobcats (5-4, 1-3) host the University of New England on Tuesday.
With the opening set tied at 15-15, a quick 5-0 run highlighted by three kills from Isabel Sessions, gave the visitors a 20-15 advantage. The Bobcats pulled to within a pair at 22-20 on a kill by Angel Echipue, but the Panthers took the first stanza behind three-consecutive kills.
The second set saw Middlebury race out to an 11-1 lead, including three service aces by Shea Golden. The Bobcats clawed their way back to within six (19-13) on a service ace from Echipue, but the Panthers tallied the ensuing four points and claimed the set.
In the final frame, the visitors moved out to a 9-1 edge and were never challenged in the stanza to complete the sweep.
Sessions paced the Middlebury attack, finishing with a match-best 14 kills to go along with 12 digs for her fifth double-double of the season. Sarah Staver and Jane Nelson chipped in with eight and seven kills, respectively. Chellsa Ferdinand handed out a match-high 27 assists, giving her 1,009 assists for her career. She becomes just the 10th player in the program's history to eclipse the 1,000-assist plateau.
As a team, the Panthers hit a season-best .433 (43-4-90) for the match, including a sparkling .556 (15-0-27) in the second set.
Bates was led by Taylor Stafford-Smith with eight kills. Julia Panepinto tallied a team-high 18 assists, while Gabi Eustache had 11 digs. Ruby Lightbourn tallied four service aces for the hosts.