Hartford, Conn. - The Middlebury Panthers earned a hard-fought, 3-0 victory on Friday night in Hartford over the Trinity College volleyball team in both teams first New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) game of the 2016 season. Trinity falls to 1-4 overall on the season while the Panthers improve to 3-2.
Sophomore Hanna Engstrom (Hopkinton, Mass.) led Trinity with a career-high 15 kills on the evening, leading all scorers with 15 points in the game. Classmate Rachel Underwood (Danville, Calif.) flanked Engstrom on the Bantam offense as she finished with nine kills and 11 digs, however the Middlebury attack proved to be too much as the Panthers boomed seven aces, led by Emily Kolodka (Verona, N.J.) who had four. Middlebury sophomore Isabel Sessions (Chicago, Ill.) posted an impressive .455 hitting clip for the visitors who won by set scores of 25-20, 27-25, and 25-20.
Middlebury got out to an early lead in the first set which caused Trinity to call a timeout, down 10-6. The Bantams kept within arms reach before back-to-back kills by Engstrom and Underwood, followed by an illegal rotation called on Middlebury cut the deficit to 17-15. Engstrom later tallied another kill to make it a two-point game once again at 19-17, however the Panthers went on to close out the set, 25-20, to take a 1-0 advantage.
In set two, it was Trinity who found themselves with the lead in the early going. The Bantams held a 9-6 lead before a kill from Underwood forced Middlebury to burn a timeout to try and slow Trinity's momentum. The two teams continued to trade points before a kill by junior Eliana Schaefer (Bethesda, Md.) and an ace from Kolodka evened the score at 17. The Bantams went on a quick 3-0 run thanks to a kill by Underwood and an ace from junior Claudia Varner (Port Washington, N.Y.), but the Panthers came right back to tie it at 20 all. The Bantams had the Panthers on the ropes after a blast from Engstrom made it 23-21, however Middlebury scored two straight points out of a timeout and eventually took set two, 27-25.
The Panthers took a commanding 19-9 lead in the third set, however a 7-2 run from the home team made things interesting and forced Middlebury to call a timeout to regroup. The Panthers were able to finish the job on a block by junior Alice Roberts (Media, Pa.) that sealed the 3-0 sweep.
Trinity returns to action tomorrow at 1 p.m. as they host Hamilton in their second conference game of the season.