September 17, 2012

The Panther women's volleyball team improved to 4-1 on the season as the Panthers came from a set down to defeat Union (7-2) by a score of 3-1 (23-25, 25-15, 25-21, 25-15) in Pepin Gym.

After dropping a tightly contested first set, Middlebury came back with a convincing 25-15 win in the second. The Panthers edged out a 25-21 victory in the third before rattling off seven straight fourth set points on their way to the victory.

Junior Amy Hart (Kenilworth, Ill.) paced the team with 13 kills, followed by classmate Megan Jarchow (Cos Cob, Conn.) with nine and sophomore Piper Underbrink (Ocala, Fla.) with seven and a .500 hitting percentage. Senior Julia Gibbs (Houston, Texas) had 19 digs in the match to go along with her 32 assists, while senior Caitlin Barrett (Medfield, Mass.) added 15 kills. Middlebury earned 14 block assists in the contest, led by senior Madeline Firestone (Solvang, Calif.) with five.

In the opening NESCAC match of the year for each squad, Middlebury, ranked seventh in this week's New England Division III poll, took three two-point sets from Wesleyan.

In the opening set, Middlebury pulled away from a 16-16 deadlock to grab a 23-18 edge behind a 7-2 run, only to see Wesleyan rally to take a 25-24 lead with a 7-1 stretch. The Panthers scored the final three points of the set with Gibbs breaking a 25-25 tie with a service ace and junior Meg Anderson (Berlin, Mass.) coming up with the winning point on a kill to make it 27-25.

The second set was controlled by the Panthers much of the way as they pulled out to a seven-point bulge, 20-13, but again the Cardinals fought back and made it a 24-23 score before Firestone delivered the decisive point for Middlebury with a kill for the 25-23 win.

The third set found Wesleyan ahead by as many as six points, 17-11, before the Panthers came back to tie, 23-23, on a 12-6 run. Middlebury had its first match point at 24-23, but the Cardinals evened the count. Again, Middlebury moved ahead, 25-24, and again, Wesleyan tied the score.  Wesleyan had its first set point of the evening after going ahead, 26-25, only to be tied at 26-26. When Middlebury moved ahead, 27-26, Wesleyan saved its third match point to deadlock the score, 27-27. Middlebury finally put the finishing touches on the evening with a kill by Hart on a well-placed tip, followed by her fourth ace of the night for the 29-27 victory.

Offensively, the Panthers were led by Anderson and Hart, both with 10 kills, while Gibbs collected 33 assists. Hart, with four aces, was topped by teammate Gibbs with six. On defense, Barrett amassed 14 digs, while Underbrink had four blocks.

Middlebury women's volleyball team dropped a hard-fought five set match at Connecticut College on Saturday, falling 3-2 (27-29, 25-23, 25-18, 19-25, 15-13).

Hart and Jarchow led the Middlebury offense with 18 and 17 kills respectively. Gibbs earned 54 assists and 19 digs, while Barrett had 32 digs. Underbrink had five blocks in the contest, while Firestone earned four.

• Volleyball record: 5-2

• Up next: 9/21-22 @ USCGA Invitational