Cardinals Takes Middlebury, Ranked 7th Regionally, Down to the Wire in Tight NESCAC Loss - Also Fall to Williams & Conn

In the opening NESCAC match of the year for each squad, Middlebury, ranked seventh in this week's New England Division III poll, took three two-point sets from Wesleyan, ranked 15th in the region, to post a 3-0 victory Fri., Sept. 14.  Wesleyan was back in conference action on Sat., Sept. 15 with a visit from Williams.  The Cardinals again came out on the short side of a 3-0 score despite some strong individual efforts.

Wesleyan got 10 kills from Kim Farris '14 and eight from Laura Volgenau '13 while Claire Larson '15 (#13, left side photo) had 27 assists vs. Middlebury.  Sofia Davila '16 (#15, right side photo) had a match-high 16 digs and Abby Southam '16 made three blocks.  Both Farris and Davila had three aces for the Cardinals.

In the opening set, Middlebury pulled away from a 16-16 deadlock to grab a 23-18 edge behind a 7-2 run, only to see Wesleyan rally to take a 25-24 lead with a 7-1 stretch.  But the Panthers scored the final three points of the set, breaking a 25-25 tie with a service ace and coming up the winning point on a kill to make it 27-25.

The second set was controlled by the Panthers much of the way as they pulled out to a seven-point bulge, 20-13, but again the Cardinals fought back and made it a 24-23 score before Middlebury got the decisive point with a kill for the 25-23 win.

The third set found Wesleyan ahead by as many as six points, 17-11, before the Panthers came back to tie, 23-23, on a 12-6 run.  Middlebury had its first match point at 24-23, but the Cardinals evened the count.  Again, Middlebury moved ahead, 25-24, and again, Wesleyan tied the score.  Wesleyan had its first set point of the evening after going ahead, 26-25, only to be tied at 26-26.  When Middlebury moved ahead, 27-26, Wesleyan saved its third match point to deadlock the score, 27-27.  Middlebury finally put the finishing touches on the evening with a kill on a well-placed dink, followed by a service ace for the 29-27 victory.

Williams had little trouble securing the middle stanza, taking a 25-15 win after jumping out to a 15-6 start and never letting Wesleyan get closer than five points. The first set saw the Ephs storm back from a 12-7 deficit to take a 19-15 lead behind a 12-3 run, and finish up on a 6-2 streak to capture the 25-17 triumph.  The third set proved to be the most nip-and-tuck of the afternoon as it was tied an numerous junctures, including 18-18, 20-20, 21-21 and 23-23, before the Ephs nailed down the match by taking the final two points on a pair of kills.  Williams entered the week ranked ninth in New England.

Wesleyan got a match-high nine kills from Farris while Monica Leslie '14 added six.  Larson had 20 assists.  Digs leadership for the day once again went to Davila, who racked up 16.

Wesleyan faced its third straight NESCAC rival when it hosted Conn. College Wed., Sept. 19.  The first set was the most competitive of the evening as Conn pulled out a 30-28 win.  The Camels got the final two points on an ace and a kill.  Wesleyan had two set points, leading 26-25 and 28-27, but could not deliver the knockout punch.  The score was tied at 14-14 in the set before Conn ran off four straight for an 18-14 lead.  Wesleyan came right back with a 6-1 run to assume the lead, 20-19.  The score was then tied at every point from 21-21 through 28-28.

Conn won the last two sets with more comfort, rolling out to a 14-7 edge in the second set before pulling away for a 25-14 victory.  The third set found Conn leading 9-3 at the outset and get to the brink of winning the match at 24-13 before the Cardinals rattled off eight straight points behind the serving of Katie Schad '13 to narrow the gap to 24-21.  But a final Conn kill wrapped up the triumph, 25-21.

Wesleyan got nine kills from Leslie and 12 digs from Davila to pace the attack and defense.

Wesleyan heads to NYU Fri., Sept. 21 to begin tournament play against the host in its next action.  The match will feature both < LiveStats > and a < webcast > starting at 5 p.m.   On Sat., Sept. 22, the Cardinals conclude tournament play against Susquehanna and Haverford.