MEDFORD, Mass. – Amherst College never stopped fighting in their New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) women's volleyball quarterfinals match against Middlebury College on Friday evening at Chase Gym.
The Mammoths came back from a set down twice to force a fifth set, and then overcame a 9-5 deficit in the deciding game, earning themselves a chance at match point.
Middlebury staved off elimination, however, and won the next two points as well to hand the fourth-seeded Mammoths a 3-2 (25-17, 20-25, 25-16, 18-25, 16-14) defeat, ending Amherst's season with a record of 19-6.
Amherst ran off three straight points thanks to kills by Jamie Dailey '21, Claire Dennis '20 and Emily Kolsky '20 to pull within 9-8 in the decisive fifth set. Middlebury continued to lead until a service ace by Jacqueline Kortekaas '23 tied the game at 13.
Kortekaas set up Kolsky for a kill to give Amherst match point, but Middlebury pulled off several digs on what could have been game-winning attacks by the Amherst hitters, eventually tying the match at 14 on an Amherst hitting error.
The fifth-seeded Panthers closed out the match with a kill from Laney Sullivan and an Amherst setting error, meaning that Amherst would exit in the NESCAC quarterfinals for the first time since 2012.
Kolsky led all players with 19 kills and collected 16 digs for a double-double in her final game. Senior contributions from Amherst also included 29 assists from Charlotte Duran, five kills and five blocks from Claire Dennis and six kills and two blocks out of Cam Hendricks.
The teams alternated control of each set, with Middlebury seizing control of the opening game by coming out of the gate with a 13-4 run. Amherst opened the second set with a 9-1 run of their own.
With the third game tied at 10, the Panthers won six straight points and opened up an eventual 22-13 lead on a block by Corley Doyle and Maggie Wise.
In game four, it was the Mammoths turning a tight game into a 19-12 lead when they ripped off eight out of ten points, including four kills in the spurt by Sophie Launsbach '22, who pounded 18 kills in the defeat, along with a pair of service aces.
Middlebury (15-9), who will face top-seeded Tufts on Saturday in the NESCAC semifinals, was led by Wise's 17 kills, 12 digs and six blocks. Doyle also chipped in with 14 kills and six blocks, while Jane Nelson had 13 kills.
Emma Walsh had a double-double for the Panthers with 30 assists and 12 digs. Gigi Alper led all players with 31 digs and Chellsa Ferdinand added 23 assists.