Middlebury, Vermont – Williams (10-8, 5-3 in NESCAC) continued their away weekend with a Saturday afternoon match against Middlebury (14-4, 6-2 in NESCAC) after beating Hamilton (6-7, 5-2 in NESCAC) on Friday night in four sets (25-21, 25-22, 29-31, 25-17). This match marked the final regular season home match for the Middlebury Panthers.
The first set began with contentious net play by both teams. Up by two at 10-8, Co-Captain Tori Jasuta '17 got a kill with the assist by first year setter Alex Newton '20. Williams kept up their lead at 13-11 with a kill by Ally Ostrow '19. Middlebury responded to take charge up 16-13. Back on the court, both teams were tied up at 16-16. At 17-17, Ostrow had a kill from the outside with an assist by Newton. Williams then called their first timeout of the match having lengthened the deficit down by four at 21-17. Ultimately, the Panthers won the first set at home at 25-21.
The Ephs fought back to win the second set 25-18. With one set apiece, both teams were hoping to clinch the third set. Daiana Takashima '20 entered to serve down 2-1. After a lengthy point, Middlebury got an outside kill to lead 3-1. At 4-2, Williams showed aggressive net play and a move by Jasuta narrowed the deficit to 4-3. Natalie Albright '20 entered to serve tied up at 4-4. Middlebury pushed back to regain the lead up 9-5. Morgan Richman got a kill in the middle at 9-5. Jasuta followed with a strong serve. Williams remained aggressive with strong blocks on the Panthers hitters. The Ephs cut the deficit to 9-8 hoping to regain the lead. Down 10-9, Benell served and after a long rally the Ephs remained hopefully to tie things up at 10-10.
Middlebury took the lead up 14-11. Williams called a timeout down by three with Middlebury taking their biggest lead of the set at 15-11. Middlebury found a hole in the Ephs defense to lead at 18-12. Jasuta had a strong drive to answer for the Ephs down 18-13. Williams one the net battle to cut it within four at 18-14. Middlebury fought back with at kill to add a point for the Panthers. Jasuta had a line kill to push at 19-15. Newton had a strong float serve at 19-15 that Middlebury used for a kill to maintain their lead. Jasuta earned a service ace down by three at 20-17.
Jasuta continued to cut the deficit to two at 20-18. Middlebury answered with an outside kill to take the lead by three at 21-18. Middleburry had a big block to lead by four at 22-18. Ostrow had a line kill to trail by three at 22-19. The Ephs called a timeout trailing by four at 23-19. Middlebury had a service ace to set the score at match point. Corbeil got a kill to trail at 24-20. Takashima had a strong set score, but ultimately Middlebury won the third set 25-20.
With the home team leading two sets to one, the Panthers were homing to maintain their lead. Erin Denham '20 got a kill tied at 2-2. Jasuta earned another kill from the outside to tied at 3-3. Jasuta drilled it home to lead by two at 5-3. Corbeil set the score with her attack down by one at 8-7. Corbeil remained aggressive to add a point down 9-8 followed up by Jasuta with a strong jump serve. Williams called a timeout trailing by five at 13-8.
With the ball back in play, Middlebury maintained the lead at 14-8. The Panthers had a strong set to double up the Ephs at 16-8. Middlebury had a big block against the Ephs outside hitter up by six at 17-8. Corbeil stopped the run with a kill at the right pin at 17-9. The Panthers led at 20-9 after strong attacks. Jasuta hit to line at 21-11. Ostrow had an aggressive serve to mark three straight point for the Ephs at 21-12. After a service ace by Ostrow, Middlebury called a timeout at 21-14. Continuing to fight hard, Morgan Richman '19 earned a kill at 23-16. Jasuta kept it alive for Williams with a kill at 24-18.
Ultimately, the Middlebury Panthers earned the win at home in four sets after a tricky tip to win the fourth set at 25-20. The Ephs won the second set but lost their streak to Middlebury with the set score: 21-25, 25-18, 20-25, 20-25.
Head Coach of the Ephs Christi Kelsey remarked on this weekends matches. She noted, "Earning a split this weekend in NESCAC play was not our goal heading into the weekend but we are grateful to come away with one win over a talented Hamilton team. I thought we showed some great moments in both matches and today especially just ran up against a strong Middlebury team that played a really steady and consistent match. They didnt make a lot of errors and we were a bit more inconsistent from set to set."
Coach Kelsey added a focus on the big picture. She stated, "Overall though we are still incredibly proud of the progress and growth this team continues to make." The Ephs next match is against MIT (21-3, 7-0 in Conference) and is part of the New England Challenge next Friday away at 7:00pm.