The Middlebury volleyball team bested Tufts (11-8, 5-3) by a 3-1 score (25-15, 25-16, 20-25, 25-20) on Friday evening in Pepin Gymnasium. The Panthers (12-3, 5-2) return to action on Saturday when they host Bowdoin at 2:00 p.m., while the Jumbos entertain Springfield next Friday at 7:00 p.m.
In the opening set, Middlebury raced out to a 12-3 lead, capped by a kill from Isabel Sessions. Tufts cut the deficit to six at 15-9 on a Panther attack error, but the hosts rattled off a 7-1 run en route to the 25-15 victory.
Ahead by a 7-5 tally in the second set, the hosts gradually moved out to an eight-point advantage 20-12 on a Jumbo attacking error. Tufts sliced the lead to six (20-14) on a kill from Maddie Stewart, but Middlebury tallied five of the next seven points to take the set and a 2-0 lead.
During a back-and-forth third set with the score knotted at 14-14, the Jumbos rattled off a quick 4-0 run, fueled by two kills from Mackenzie Bright and a service ace by Cate Desler. The Panthers clawed their way back to within a pair (22-20) on a kill from Sarah Staver, but a kill by Stewart and a pair of Panther attack errors gave the Jumbos the 25-20 victory.
Trailing 8-6 in the final set, Middlebury put together a 12-3 run for an 18-11 advantage. The Jumbos cut the deficit to five on five different occasions over the remainder of the set, but a kill by Sessions gave the Panthers the set and the victory.
Maggie Wise led the Middlebury offensive output with 15 kills, while Sessions added 14 and Staver chipped in with 11. Chellsa Ferdinand dished out 41 assists, moving her into a tie for eighth place in the career ranks with Kathryn Haderlein '14 with 1,184. Gigi Alper had 17 digs, while Shea Golden had three service aces for the hosts. Staver finished with a block solo and five block assists.
Tufts was paced by Bright with a match-best 17 kills, while Desler added 10. Rachel Furash recorded 34 assists for the Jumbos, while Desler and Katie Zheng each had six digs.