Middlebury Sweeps Bates in NESCAC Road Play

Chellsa Ferdinand became the 10th player in the program's history with 1,000 career assists in Friday's win.
Chellsa Ferdinand became the 10th player in the program's history with 1,000 career assists in Friday's win.

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.

Gigi Alper ended the evening with a match-best 16 digs, while Staver recorded five block assists and Maggie Wise added three. Golden finished with four service aces for Middlebury.

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.