Middlebury opened NESCAC play with a 3-0 victory (25-20, 28-26, 25-22) on Friday at Colby (3-6, 0-1) in Wadsworth Gymnasium. The Panthers (6-2, 1-0) return to the court Saturday when travel to Bates for a 2:00 p.m. contest with the Bobcats.
In a back-and-forth opening set, the Panthers grabbed a 13-8 lead on a Mule attack error. Colby slowly battled back, pulling to 18-17 on a kill from Natalie Simonton. Middlebury responded by scoring four of the next five points for a 22-18 lead and claimed a 1-0 lead on a kill from Lucy Ambach following a long rally.
Tied at 13-13 in set number two, the visitors put together an 8-3 run for a 21-16 edge on a Mule service error. That lead eventually became 24-19, but Colby rattled off six-straight tallies for a 25-24 edge. Knotted at 26-26, a pair of Mule hitting errors gave the Panthers a 2-0 advantage.
Clinging to an 8-7 lead in the final set, Middlebury recorded six-consecutive points for a 14-7 lead on a kill from Corley Doyle. The Mules clawed their way back into the set, pulling to within 17-14 on a Panther attack error. Middlebury answered with a 5-0 spurt, highlighted by two kills from Jaime Donnelly, for a 22-14 and completed the sweep on a kill from Doyle.
Maggie Wise and Doyle paced the balanced Middlebury offense, finishing with eight kills apiece, while Donnelly added seven. Emma Walsh had 16 assists to go with seven digs, while Chellsa Ferdinand added 12 assists and 10 digs. Gigi Alper dug up 23 balls, while Wise had nine. Isabella Marcus had three block assists.
Nicole Petherbridge led Colby with nine kills, while Samantha Schultz and Simonton each produced eight. Morgan Selby dished out 30 assists to go along with 16 digs, while Blair Sullivan added 14 digs. Selby posted three block assists at the net.