Stafford-Smith leads volleyball in loss to Middlebury

Taylor Stafford-Smith and the Bates volleyball team fell 3-0 to Middlebury in a home NESCAC match on Sept. 28, 2018. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- Middlebury College's hitters were out in force Friday night in Alumni Gym, as the visiting Panthers swept the Bates volleyball team 3-0 (25-20, 25-14, 25-8), attacking at a blistering .433 percentage for the match.

After hitting at a strong .308 percentage in the first set, the only competitive set of the night, Middlebury (8-2, 2-1 NESCAC) did not commit an attack error over the final two sets, compiling 15 kills in the second set and 12 more in the third en route to their fifth straight win.

Isabel Sessions led the Panthers with 14 kills on 28 attempts (.429) to go with 12 digs. Sarah Staver posted eight kills on 18 attempts (.389) with five blocks and Chellsa Ferdinand paced the offense with 27 assists and five kills on eight attempts (.625). Gigi Alper led the back row with 16 digs.

The Bobcats (5-4, 1-3 NESCAC) saw their two-match winning streak snapped. They received eight kills on 35 attempts (.086) from junior Taylor Stafford-Smith (Calabasas, Calif.) and four kills by sophomore Angel Echipue (Munich, Germany) on 10 attempts (.100). Junior Gabi Eustache (New York, N.Y.) led Bates defensively with 11 digs.

The first set was tied 15-15 before the Panthers went on a 5-0 run with four kills by Sessions and one by Ferdinand, for a 20-15 lead. A Sessions service error followed by a kill from Echipue closed the gap to 22-20 before Middlebury closed out the set with kills by Corley Doyle, Maggie Wise and Jane Nelson.

Bates started off the second set with a service error but tied it 1-1 with a kill by Echipue. Then Middlebury ran off 10 unanswered points, with Shea Golden serving four aces and both Sessions and Ferdinand notching a pair of kills, as Middlebury assumed an 11-1 lead. Bates twice closed within seven points, but another run of four serves by Golden allowed the Panthers to pull away at the end of the set. Sessions supplied kills on three of the Panthers' final five points of the set and finished the frame with seven kills.

The Bobcats fell behind by a 9-1 score to open the third and least competitive set of the match as the Panthers wrapped up their victory in 70 minutes. Staver paced Middlebury with five kills in the set, including the winning point.

Bates will next host the University of New England on Tuesday at 6pm; Middlebury plays at Colby Saturday at 2pm.