The Middlebury volleyball team opened play during the two-day New England Challenge with a 3-0 setback Friday evening at Babson (18-5) by scores of 25-22, 25-15, 25-16. The Panthers (12-5) return to action Saturday, playing an 11:00 a.m. match at 21st-ranked MIT followed by a 3:30 p.m. contest with Springfield.
Babson, ranked fourth in the latest regional rankings, gained a 14-10 lead in the opening set on a kill by Allie Puccio. Middlebury fought back to knot the score at 17-17 on a kill from Jane Nelson. After a kill from Nelson gave the visitors a 21-20 edge, the Beavers reeled off five of the final six points in the set, capped by a kill by Kristin Carosotto, to take the set.
In the second stanza, Isabel Sessions gave the Panthers a narrow 10-9 lead on a service ace. Babson put together a 7-2 run for a 16-12 advantage, completed on a kill by Elizabeth Cameron. Exchanging the next few points, the Beavers tallied the last seven points of the set for a 25-15 win and a 2-0 lead.
The final set saw Babson race out to a 6-2 edge on a Panther attack error. Middlebury sliced away at the deficit, moving to within 7-5 on a kill from Sessions. The Beavers rattled off a 7-2 run for a 14-7 lead and were never challenged in the set to complete the sweep.
Sessions led Middlebury with 11 kills and added 11 digs for her ninth double-double of the season, while Sarah Staver added seven kills. Chellsa Ferdinand handed out 17 assists in her two sets of action, while Gigi Alper had a team-high 17 digs, giving her 1,005 digs for her career.
Babson was paced by Shannon Roseen, Carosotto and Puccio with eight kills apiece. Cameron recorded a match-high 30 assists for the Beavers, while Abby Beecher dug up 15 balls and Cameron tallied 11. Carosotto recorded two solo blocks and five block assists for the hosts.