Panthers Fall to Tufts in NESCAC Quarterfinals

Isabel Sessions finished with eight kills on Friday against Tufts. (photo courtesy of Brian Beard -
Isabel Sessions finished with eight kills on Friday against Tufts. (photo courtesy of Brian Beard -

The fourth-seeded Middlebury volleyball team lost in the NESCAC Quarterfinals by a 3-0 score (27-25, 25-20, 25-17) to fifth-seeded Tufts on Friday. The Panthers drop to 17-6 overall, while the Jumbos improve to 16-9 with the victory.

The opening set saw numerous ties and lead changes, with neither team owning more than a two-point edge. Tied at 25-25, a kill by the Jumbos and a setting error gave Tufts the first frame.

Knotted at 4-4 in the second set, the Jumbos slowly pulled out to a 14-9 advantage on a service ace from Cate Desler. The Panthers chipped away at the deficit, cutting it to 22-20 on a kill by Chellsa Ferdinand. Tufts tallied the final three points of the set to take a 2-0 advantage.

In a back-and-forth third set with the score deadlocked at 11-11, the Jumbos forged ahead 18-14 on a kill by Heather Holz. Middlebury sliced the deficit to 19-17 on a setting error by Tufts, but the Jumbos tallied the final six points of the match to complete the sweep.

Isabel Sessions paced Middlebury with eight kills to go along with eight digs, while Sarah Staver added eight kills and Maggie Wise chipped with seven. Ferdinand handed out 27 assists along with nine digs and four kills. She now has 1,466 assists over her career, tying her with Erin McManus '99 for seventh in the program's history. Gigi Alper produced a team-high 11 digs, while Sessions added two block solos and two block assists.

Tufts was led by Desler and Brigid Bell with seven kills each, while Maddie Stewart added six. Ariel Zedric had 15 assists and Rachel Furash chipped in with 13, while Desler tallied a match-best 13 digs. Christina Nwankpa ended the match with three block solos and four block assists for the Jumbos.