Sophomore Becca Raffel had a match-high 19 kills to lead the visiting Middlebury College women's volleyball team to a 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-18) win in a NESCAC matchup at Wesleyan University Saturday afternoon. The win was the eighth straight for Middlebury, and lifted the Panthers to 11-2 overall and 3-1 in NESCAC play. Wesleyan fell to 4-7, 1-4.
Wesleyan held an early 9-6 advantage in the opening set, but Middlebury used a 9-2 run to open up a 15-11 lead. Down 20-14, the Cardinals called their second timeout of the set. Sophomore Sarah Small (San Francisco, CA) then ripped off three straight kills to bring Wesleyan back within three at 20-17.
An ace by Wesleyan junior Heidi Westerman (Soldotna, AK) cut the Middlebury lead to two at 23-21, but Raffel answered with a kill to give the Continentals a set point. Wesleyan's Sarah Swenson (Woodstock, CT) followed with a kill to stave off the first one, but Raffel put the set away with a kill on the next point.
Middlebury took the lead at the start of the second set, and a Raffel ace had her club ahead 14-10 midway through. The Cardinals fought back, and four straight points on the serve of junior Rachel Savage (Portland, OR) gave Wesleyan a 19-18 lead. The Panthers then turned up the heat, winning seven of the next eight points, to take the set 25-20. The last four points all came off the serve of Middlebury junior Hannah Blackburn.
The two teams went back and forth to start the third set, but a Savage ace gave Wesleyan a 12-10 lead. However, Middlebury won the next six points, five of them on the serve of freshman Claire White-Dzuro to take a 16-12 lead.
The Cardinal managed to crawl back within a point a 17-16. The Panthers responded, winning the next seven points, six of them on Raffel's serve to take control of the set and end the match.
Swenson led the Cardinals offense with eight kills, followed by seven from Small. Freshman Emma Robin (Longmeadow, MA) also had a solid all-around match, finishing with four kills, two digs, two solo blocks, and four block assists.
Wesleyan will plays its next seven matches away from home, starting next Saturday at Bowdoin.