BABSON PARK, Mass.—Senior Lorraine Mackiewicz (Edison, N.J.) hit .400 and finished with a career-high 17 kills, while first-year Elizabeth Cameron (El Dorado Hill, Calif.) dished out a career-best 47 assists as Babson College defeated visiting Middlebury College, 3-1 (25-23, 25-20, 24-26, 25-14), in the opening match of the New England Challenge on Friday night at Staake Gymnasium.
Babson, which debuted at 11th in the NCAA regional rankings, has won six of its last eight matches to move to 14-9 on the year, while Middlebury, which is ranked sixth in the region, lost for just the second time in its last 13 matches to fall to 14-5 overall.
Sophomore Gizem Yilmaz (Istanbul, Turkey) hit .545 while recording 14 kills and four blocks for the Beavers. Senior Alana Atchison (Pembroke, Mass.) led all players with six block assists, while sophomores Annissa Lai (San Ramon, Calif.) and Lauren Hennigan (West Chester, Pa.) recorded career highs of 15 and 10 digs, respectively.
Sophomore Isabel Sessions (Chicago, Ill.) led the Panthers with 12 kills, while juniors Becca Raffel (Palo Alto, Calif.) and Alice Roberts (Media, Pa.) each finished with nine. Senior Hannah Blackburn (Chapel Hill, N.C.) dished out 20 assists and first-year Gigi Alper (Mill Valley, Calif.) recorded a team-high 14 digs.
Middlebury jumped out to an 8-1 in the opening set, but the Green and White clawed its way back by hitting .314 and recording 17 kills. Yilmaz hammered three of her six kills late in the frame as the Beavers scored eight of the final 10 points to take a one-set advantage.
Despite recording just nine kills in game two, Babson took advantage of 10 Panther errors on its way to a two-set lead. The Beavers appeared poised to close out the match in straight sets before Middlebury mounted a furious late rally to force a fourth game. Trailing 23-16, the visitors got two kills apiece from Roberts and Sessions, and service aces from Raffel and Alper as part of a 10-1 run en route to a 26-24 victory.
The Green and White responded with a strong fourth set though, hitting .353 and posting 17 kills to close out the match. Babson took the lead for good at 8-7 on a kill by Mackiewicz and was in front 15-12 before ripping off a 10-2 run. Mackiewicz, Yilmaz and sophomore Shannon Roseen (Malden, Mass.) combined for 11 kills in the frame while holding Middlebury to just a .054 hitting percentage.
The Beavers recorded a season-high 58 kills in the win and matched their season high for the third time this fall with 11 total blocks.
Both teams will return to action on Saturday with a pair of matches at MIT. Babson will take on Williams at 10:30 a.m. and Tufts at 3 p.m., while Middlebury faces Springfield at 10:30 a.m. and the host Engineers at 3 p.m.
• The Beavers are now 1-2 all-time against Middlebury, which won the first match between the teams this season in four sets back on October 1.
• Babson is 6-0 at home this season and has won 11 straight at Staake Gymnasium going back to last year.
• The Beavers improve to 13-1 on the year when winning the first set and 11-0 when hitting better than .200.
• Cameron, who has dished out 646 assists this season, moved into ninth place on the program's single-season list.