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Middlebury Defeats Volleyball in Four Close Sets

Jenny Kellogg

NEW LONDON, Conn. – Senior Jenny Kellogg (Los Altos, Calif.) registered her first double-double of the season and was one of two Camel players to record 16 kills, but it wasn't enough, as Middlebury defeated the Connecticut College volleyball team by a 3-1 decision on Friday evening. Set scores were 25-22, 23-25, 25-21 and 26-24.

The first set was extremely close at the start, as neither side led by more than two points until sophomores Katie Howley (Scituate, Mass.) and Emma Hewlin (Los Gatos, Calif.) teamed up for a block to give the Camels an 11-8 advantage and prompt a Middlebury timeout. The Panthers continued to chip away at the deficit and eventually took their first lead since the early stages on an ace by Isabel Sessions which made it 19-18. The hosts tied the score at 19s on a kill by freshman Avery Light (Sudbury, Mass.), but the Panthers were able to pull away in the end. Sessions, who had the hot hand in the opening set, registered back-to-back kills to give the visitors the win and put them ahead.

The second set was just as tight as the first and featured eight ties through 16 rallies. Junior Grace McGee (Portland, Ore.) set up Light for two straight kills to give the Camels a 10-8 edge, and a seesaw affair ensued over the next several rallies. After Middlebury regained the lead at 14-13 on a Camel attacking error, the hosts answered back with three straight points and never trailed again. Even though Sarah Staver tied the match at 23s, Light was able to end it with two consecutive kills to pull the teams even.

Middlebury (10-2, NESCAC 4-1) never trailed during a close third set and fought off every rally attempt by the Camels. Trailing 15-10, Connecticut College notched four straight points to force the visitors to burn a timeout. The Camels temporarily went ahead on a dump by McGee and also had a 20-19 advantage following a service error by Gigi Alper, but the Panthers came back and ended the set on a 6-1 run.

The Panthers burst out to a 9-1 lead and appeared to be in cruise control in the fourth set. The Camels, however, stormed back from a deficit that reached as many as nine points and found themselves down by only a 21-20 score when Howley came alive by finishing a pass from McGee. Howley continued to dominate and registered two straight service aces to tie the set at 24s, but an ensuing error followed by a kill by Maggie Wise on match point gave Middlebury the victory.

Middlebury was led by Sessions, who racked up 23 kills and 14 digs. Chellsa Ferdinand also recorded a double-double with 47 assists to go along with 13 digs, and Wise finished with 15 kills. Alper ended the evening with 18 digs, four assists and one of four Panthers to record two service aces.

Kellogg recorded her first double-double of the season by finishing with 16 kills and 10 digs to lead the way for Connecticut College. McGee set a career high for assists for the second time in three matches by notching 52, while sophomore Elle Kass (Los Gatos, Calif.) paced four players with double-digit digs by contributing 22.

Connecticut College (5-10, NESCAC 1-5) will head to Eastern Connecticut State for a tri-match tomorrow to face Castleton at 2 p.m. and the host Warriors at 4 p.m.