Volleyball Drops Three of Four Matches in Weekend Tournament at UMass-Boston

By Fritz Parker

In their opening weekend of play, the Middlebury women’s volleyball team (1-3) lost three of four matches on Sept. 12 and 13 while competing in the UMass-Boston Tournament against out of conference opponents. 

The Panthers opened the weekend in Boston with a loss to Whitman College by a score of three sets to one before winning three straight sets to hand the Western Connecticut State Colonials their first loss of the season with set scores of 25-21, 29-27 and 25-20. Middlebury was winless in Saturday’s contests, falling 3-0 to UMass-Boston and Salisbury. 

After jumping out to an early 9-5 advantage in the first set against Whitman, the Panthers conceded eight consecutive points in losing the set. Middlebury then dug themselves a significant hole by dropping the second set, before extending the match by winning the third 25-20. In the fourth and final set, however, the Panthers fell 25-21 to lose the match 3-1. 

Olivia Kolodka ’15 led the Panther attack with 12 kills against Whitman and an additional 15 in Friday afternoon’s second matchup versus Western Connecticut State. Defensively, the duo of Lizzy Reed ’15 and Charlotte Devine ’17 combined to tally double-digit dig totals contributing 35 of the team’s 67 in the first match of the weekend. 

The team resumed play on Saturday, facing host school UMass-Boston. Despite staying close for much of the first set, the Panthers fell behind late to drop set one 25-22. The second set went much the same way for Middlebury, who fell 25-18 before dropping the match in the third set 24-14.

The Panthers could not surmount the Beacons’ 11 aces in the loss. Senior Reed returned to once again anchor the Panther defense with 14 digs. 

The Salisbury Gulls gained the advantage over the Panthers, securing victories in all three sets while leading Middlebury in the categories of blocks and digs. Hannah Blackburn ’17 contributed 11 digs, seven kills and four service aces throughout the match’s three sets as the Panthers continued to fight in their fourth and last contest of the weekend.

Attempting to overcome the graduation of key players from the 2013-2014 squad, the  Middlebury women’s volleyball team looks to improve on their UMass-Boston Tournament performance in the upcoming home match on Sept. 20 versus NESCAC opponent Bates College.

Coming off of a disappointing 2-8 finish in the NESCAC a year ago, the Bobcats are off to a 5-3 start overall this season, and should provide a tough test for the Panthers as they look to start their conference schedule off with a strong performance.

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