Volleyball Off to Stellar Start

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Volleyball Off to Stellar Start

Middlebury Women's Volleyball

Middlebury Women's Volleyball

College Communications

Middlebury Women's Volleyball

College Communications

College Communications

Middlebury Women's Volleyball

By JAKE TURTEL

Coming off a 2–2 split the weekend prior, the Middlebury Women’s Volleyball team swept their opening set of conference matches, taking to the road to beat the Amherst Mammoths and the Trinity Bantams. Their Nescac record moved to 2–0 in the process.

On Friday, September 15, Isabel Sessions ’19 led the Panthers with 19 kills as the visitors came back in the first set to top Amherst, three sets to two (22–25, 25–22, 23–25, 25–22, 16–14). In a match that was always close — each set was decided by three points or less — it was Middlebury who came out victorious. After the two teams traded the first four sets, the Panthers were behind with the game on the line in the fifth, but they dug out a gritty victory in a thrilling finish.

When the pressure mounted, the visitors never wavered. Gigi Alper ’20, who contributed 28 digs (a good number of which came in crunch time), was never worried.

“We knew that if we stayed composed and executed our game plan, the results would take care of themselves,” Alper said. “I’m proud of my teammates for turning up the intensity and staying aggressive when we needed to put the match away.”

Becca Raffel ’18 continued her hot start to the season, registering 17 kills of her own. Of the team’s eight service aces, Beth Neal ’20 notched half. Helping to orchestrate the Panther offense, Chellsa Ferdinand ’20 contributed a match-high 49 assists. Eliana Schaefer ’18 and Sarah Staver ’19 provided the defense by blocking five Mammoth shots apiece.

The next day Middlebury visited Trinity, where the Panthers fought hard in yet another close match. Once again they came out on top, securing a 3–1 victory (25–23, 19–25, 25–19, 25–18) and moving to 2–0 in conference play. Sessions once again led the match in kills (17), but this time Ferdinand finished with the most service aces (3). The Panthers’ outperformed the Bantams in three major categories: hitting percentage (.221 to .146), blocks (7 to 6), and service aces (4 to 2).

After two losses to finish their tournament the weekend prior, getting their confidence back was huge for the team. Emily Kolodka ’18 said, “It feels great to sweep the opening conference weekend. Obviously we’re always happy to get wins, especially in conference. This weekend we really wanted to start off strong by focusing on ourselves and our goals instead of the opponent, and we’re looking forward to continued success.” Many are looking for that success to come with their offense: Raffel and Schaefer are both in the top five in the Nescac in kills (95 and 81, respectively).

The Panthers return to Nescac competition on Friday, Sept. 29, when they host Bates; first comes a match against St. Michael’s on Tuesday, Sept. 19, and the Roadrunner Invitational Tournament hosted by Ramapo this upcoming weekend.

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