October 26, 2009

The Middlebury College women's volleyball team has now won eight matches in a row after capturing the silver bracket at the Hall of Fame Invitational hosted by Mt. Holyoke. With their four wins last week, the Panthers now stand at 18-4 on the year, their most wins since '04.

The Panthers earned 3-0 victories over Mt. Holyoke and Westfield State, before topping Bowdoin 3-2 in the championship match. Junior Lauren Barrett (Medfield, Mass.) earned tournament MVP honors, while sophomore Jane Handel (Evanston, Ill.) was named to the All-Tournament team.

Middlebury opened the tourney with a 3-0 win over the host school from Mt. Holyoke. Handel earned 13 kills in the win, while sophomores Caroline Cordle (Atlanta, Ga.) and Elissa Goeke (Chevy Chase, Md.) added eight apiece. Senior Reisa Bloch (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) had seven digs, Goeke earned 3 blocks, while Barrett had 23 assists and three service aces in the match.

The Panthers had little trouble with Westfield State in the semifinals, earning a 3-0 victory. Handel led the offense with 11 kills, followed by Goeke with nine. Handel also had a dozen digs, 2.5 blocks and four service aces, while Cordle earned 10 digs.

In the finals, Middlebury earned a tight 3-2 (25-19, 25-12, 22-25, 17-25, 15-10) victory over Bowdoin to secure the title. Handel came up with 17 kills in the match, while Cordle and Gibbs had 14 apiece. Defensively, Handel (18), senior Natalie DuPre (Louisville, Ky.) (16), Cordle (15) and Barrett (12) led the team in digs. Barrett also earned 47 assists in the match, junior Whitney Bean (Waukee, Iowa) had five block assists, while first-year player Julia Gibbs (Houston, Texas) picked up four service aces.

In a women's volleyball match between two of the top Division III teams in New England, Middlebury proved too strong for Plymouth State, defeating the host Panthers in a four-set match at Foley Gymnasium on Wednesday night.

Middlebury narrowly took the first two sets, 25-23 and 26-24. PSU came back to win the third set, 26-24, but the visitors put the match away with a 25-21 decision in the fourth set. Middlebury, which is ranked ninth in New England, improved to 15-4, while PSU, which is ranked 11th in New England, dropped to 24-3. Plymouth State also had its perfect record in home matches halted, dropping its first match in nine outings.

Handel and Gibbs led Middlebury with 16 and 13 kills, respectively, while each one also recorded three service aces. Goeke led the defense with five blocks, including three solo blocks, while classmate Cordle topped the team with 16 digs. Barrett finished with 41 assists.
. Women's volleyball record: 18-4
. Up next: 10/28 @ Williams, 10/31 @ Hamilton vs. Colby & Bates