MIDDLEBURY, Vt. --- The Colby College volleyball team gave Middlebury College a battle for four sets, but the Panthers pulled out the key second set on the way to a 3-1 win in New England Small College Athletic Conference play Friday night.
Middlebury took a 25-14, 28-26, 24-26, 25-19 victory in a match filled with some fine points.
First-year Natalie Roy had 20 kills, 17 digs, and two service aces to lead Colby. Maggie Taylor added nine kills and a team-best 23 digs, Kim Donaldson had nine kills, Kate Pleasants dished 39 assists, Emily Varni finished with 20 digs, and Lily Kramlich-Taylor had eight kills.
Colby (7-3 overall, 1-1 NESCAC), after losing the opening set, led 22-16 in the key second set and appeared on its way to a tie in the match. However, the Panthers battled back to take a 24-23 margin and forced the Mules to fight off three straight set points to make the score 26-26. The Panthers scored the next point for a 27-26 margin and then won the set on a controversial point. A kill attempt by a Middlebury player was long, but the officials ruled that one of the Colby blockers got a small piece of the ball. Colby head coach Candice Parent did argue the ruling by the officials.
The Mules pulled out a 26-24 win in the third set after trailing 21-20. The match was tied at 22, 23, and 24 before Colby won the final two points.
Colby got off to a solid start in the fourth set and had leads of 30 and 9-7 before Middebury got going. The Panthers roared back to take a 14-11 lead and still were in front at 22-17 before pulling away for the match.
Amy Hart had 16 kills to lead the Panthers, while Madeline Firestone had 10 blocks and eight kills.
Middlebury had 17 total team blocks compared to Colby's 4.5 blocks. The Mules were high in defensive digs with a 79-64 advantage.