Panthers Fall to Babson on Day One of New England Challenge

Gigi Alper finished with 17 digs on Friday, giving her 1,005 for her career.
Gigi Alper finished with 17 digs on Friday, giving her 1,005 for her career.

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.