Women's volleyball drops 3-1 affair with Middlebury during first meeting since 2011

Women's volleyball drops 3-1 affair with Middlebury during first meeting since 2011

COLCHESTER, Vt. - In their first meeting in four years, the Saint Michael's College women's volleyball squad fell to Middlebury College, 3-1 (25-23, 25-19, 22-25, 25-14), on Wednesday evening in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple Knights slipped to 5-3, while the Panthers are now 6-2.

Senior Kelsey Flaherty (Cold Spring, N.Y./Haldane) recorded 18 of the Purple and Gold's 43 kills, adding 10 digs. With 680 career kills, she is 21 shy of matching Annalyn Gilchrist '98 for 10th in school history. Classmate Candace Washington (New Carrollton, Md./Parkdale) tacked on eight kills and six blocks, pushing her career blocks figure to 169, passing Justine Fletcher '09 (164) before tying Stephanie Bambury '09 for fifth in school annals.

Junior Catie Weller (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown West) turned in 30 assists, 12 digs, five kills and three aces, classmate Megan Mulvaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) had five kills and five blocks, while sophomore McKenzie McNamara (Pembroke, Mass./Pembroke) notched five kills. Junior Natalie Moore (Burnt Hills, N.Y./Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) contributed 29 digs and six assists, and classmate Natalia Maccarrone (Hingham, Mass./Notre Dame Academy) accumulated 10 digs and three aces.

Sophomore Becca Raffel (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto) paced Middlebury with 17 kills and 16 digs, while classmate Eliana Schaefer (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) turned in 13 kills. Junior Hannah Blackburn (Chapel Hill, N.C./Chapel Hill) dished out 43 assists while adding eight digs and two aces, and classmate Charlotte Devine (Charlottesville, Va./Monticello) totaled 24 digs and three aces. First-year Isabel Sessions (Chicago, Ill./Latin School of Chicago) added eight kills and three aces.

Neither team led by more than two points in the early stages of the first set until an 8-2 run put the hosts ahead 16-9 on a tandem block by Mulvaney and Washington. Flaherty's kill kept the Purple Knights up 18-12 before Middlebury countered with an 11-2 run, during which time Sessions had three kills and a block. Saint Michael's eventually trailed 24-21 before Flaherty's kill capped a quick two-point spurt, but Raffel dropped a kill at set point.

The teams played through nine ties in set No. 2, with consecutive aces from Devine capping an 8-1 run that gave the Panthers a 20-14 edge. After McNamara's kill brought her team within 21-17, Raffel picked up a pair of kills in a concluding 4-2 run. Seven more ties occurred in the third set, while Flaherty turned in three kills during a key 7-1 run that gave Saint Michael's a 20-16 edge and the final lead. Raffel's kill was followed by an error by the hosts that made it 23-22, but McNamara countered with a kill before a Panther error gave the Purple Knights the final point.

Raffel's kill for the opening point of the fourth set put the visitors ahead for good. Flaherty notched a kill that created a 12-9 deficit, but Schaefer had two kills in a 7-1 response, and her ace later gave Middlebury its first 11-point lead, at 24-13.

The Purple Knights head to Keene State College for a tri-match on Saturday, taking on Maine Maritime Academy at 2 p.m. and the hosts at 4 p.m.