Volleyball Wins Five-Set Thriller In NESCAC Play at Bates

Isabella Marcus had five kills to go with two block solos and three block assists on Saturday.
Isabella Marcus had five kills to go with two block solos and three block assists on Saturday.

The Middlebury volleyball team wrapped up its opening NESCAC weekend in Maine, rallying from a 2-1 deficit for a five-set victory (25-23, 19-25, 19-25, 25-20, 15-12) Saturday at Bates (8-2, 0-2). The Panthers (7-2, 2-0) return to action Friday when they travel to Amherst for a 7:00 p.m. contest with the Mammoths.

During a back-and-forth first set where neither team possessed larger than a three-point edge, a pair of kills by Middlebury's Maggie Wise turned a 23-23 tie into a 25-23 victory.

The second set was like the first with small leads for both sides throughout. With Bates ahead 20-17, the Bobcats reeled off four of the next five points for a 24-19 lead on a service ace Angel Echipue and tied the match at a set apiece.

Bates raced out to 4-0 and 10-3 advantages in set number three, before the Panthers chipped away and cut it to 21-16 on a kill by Chellsa Ferdinand. The Bobcats scored the ensuing two points and secured the third set on a kill by Ruby Lightborn for a 2-1 lead.  

In the fourth set with Middlebury holding a 14-13 advantage, the Panthers put together a quick 4-1 spurt for a 18-14 edge on a Bobcat attack error. Bates responded with three-straight points, moving to within 18-17 on a kill by Sydney Phillips. The Panthers answered with four-consecutive points and five of the next six, highlighted by a pair of kills by Jane Nelson for a 23-18 lead. Middlebury sent the match into a decisive set when Isabella Marcus collected a kill for the 25-20 win.

The fifth set saw the Panthers possess a 7-4 lead on a kill from Ferdinand, but the Bobcats rallied back, cutting the deficit to 10-9 behind a scoring swing by Phillips. Middlebury put together a 4-1 run for a 14-10 edge on a kill by Nelson, before the hosts tallied back-to-back points to slice it to 14-12. The visitors earned the come-from-behind league win when Nelson pounded a kill down the line for the victory.

Wise paced the Middlebury attack, tying a season high with 19 kills, while Nelson added 12 and Shea Golden had 11 to go with three service aces. Emma Walsh recorded 26 assists, while Ferdinand also tallied 26 assists to go along with 11 digs. Gigi Alper dug up 40 balls, while Wise had 14 and Golden posted nine. Marcus had two solo blocks and three block assists.

Phillips led Bates with 15 kills, while Lightborn had 14 and Echipue produced 12. Julia Panepinto dished out 33 assists to go along with 11 digs, while Lightborn produced 28 digs and Olivia McCulloch had 27. Delaney Mayfield posted two block solos and a block assist at the net.