November 5, 2012

The Middlebury College women’s volleyball team won its fourth NESCAC Championship with a 3-0 (20, 17, 23) win at Connecticut College in the title game on Sunday afternoon. The Panthers capture their second championship in the past three years, with previous titles in ’97, ’98, and ’10. It was the ninth victory in the past 10 outings for the Panthers (22-6), who received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.  The Camels had their 14 match winning streak snapped and fall to 24-3.

Junior Megan Jarchow (Cos Cob, Conn.) buried 19 kills and added five digs for the winning side. Senior Julia Gibbs (Houston, Texas) narrowly missed a triple-double with 13 digs, nine kills and nine assists, while  first-year player Kathryn Haderlein (Pasadena, Calif.) dished out 27 assists to go with 13 digs en route to a double-double. Senior Caitlin Barrett (Medfield, Mass.) corralled a match-high 23 digs to lead the Panther defense.

After taking a 25-20 decision in set one, the Panthers took control in the second set, using a Haderlein kill to open up a 20-11 advantage. Later on in the set, junior Amy Hart (Kenilworth, Ill.) buried a kill from the left side to make it a 23-15 contest. Jarchow closed out the set with the game-winning kill.

The Camels battled back from a 7-3 deficit in the third set and enjoyed a 16-13 advantage after Caroline Martin supplied a service ace for the hosts. Jarchow responded for the Panthers with kills on the next two points and eventually put the visitors on top 20-18 when she joined forces with sophomore Piper Underbrink (Ocala, Fla.) for a Panther block.

The Camels continued to respond and pulled even at 23 when Martin notched her 11th kill.  The Panthers were able to score the next two points to close out the title.

Middlebury advanced to the NESCAC Championship match for the third straight year, topping third-seeded Bowdoin 3-2 (25-21, 19-25, 19-25, 25-23, 15-6) in a semifinal contest at Connecticut College.

Jarchow led the offensive attack with 13 kills, followed by Gibbs with 10, Underbrink who earned seven and Hart with six. Haderlein earned 34 assists with 16 digs, senior Sarah Studwell (Pittsford, N.Y.) had five service aces, while senior Madeline Firestone (Solvang, Calif.) and Jarchow each had 2.5 blocks. Gibbs led all Panthers with 22 digs, while Barrett earned 21.

Second-seeded Middlebury repeated its effort against seventh-seeded Trinity during the regular-season meeting of the squads in Hartford Oct. 13 by posting a 3-0 victory in the first round of the NESCAC women’s volleyball tournament. 

Middlebury took the opening set by a tight 26-24 count, breaking a 24-24 tie with a kill by Jarchow, then capturing the set when a Trinity attack went wide.  The score was even at 19-19 before Middlebury took a 22-19 lead with three straight points.  The Bantams responded with three points of their own to make it 22-22.  Kills by senior Gibbs and Jarchow put Middlebury on the brink of victory at 24-22, but again Trinity rebounded with two points, the last on a kill by first-year Kate Giddens, for a 24-24 score.

Trinity got off to a 6-2 start in the second set, but a 12-5 Middlebury run spotted the Panthers a 14-11 margin.  The lead edged out to 19-14 before a 5-1 Trinity run narrowed the difference to a single point, 20-19.  Middlebury picked up four of the next six points for a 24-21 lead and finished off the 25-22 win on a kill by Firestone.

Middlebury controlled the tempo of the third set after Trinity scored the first two points.  A 7-1 Panther burst put Middlebury up 7-3, and the lead never fell below four points the remainder of the set.  The margin peaked at 17-9 before a kill from Jarchow closed out the 25-18 final set.

Jarchow finished with 10 kills for Middlebury while Gibbs led the way with 11.  Haderlein collected 31 assists to direct the Middlebury attack. Barrett led Middlebury in digs with 14 while Haderlein added 13.

• Volleyball record: 22-6

• Up next: 11/9-11 @ NCAA Regional (Clarkson)