WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.—Sophomore Kristin Carosotto (East Greenwich, R.I.) matched her career high with 11 kills and junior Abby Beecher (Pittsford, N.Y.) added a season-high 27 digs for Babson College in a four-set (25-20, 25-16, 24-26, 26-24) loss to Middlebury College on the opning night of the New England Challenge at Chandler Gymnasium.
Babson, which debuted at fourth in the initial NCAA regional rankings, slips to 17-5 on the year, while Middlebury, which is ranked ninth in the region, improves to 15-5 overall.
First-year Allie Puccio (New Hartford, N.Y.) led the Beavers with 12 kills, classmate Gaby Miller (Miami, Fla.) added eight kills, and fellow rookie Sabrina Lechner (Novato, Calif.) hit .500 with five kills in 10 attempts to go along with four blocks. Sophomore Elizabeth Cameron (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) recorded 33 assists and 10 digs, while first-year Cassidy Witten (Honolulu, Hawaii) chipped in with 12 digs.
Senior Becca Raffel (Palo Alto, Calif.) finished with nine kills and 13 digs, while junior Sarah Staver (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) added eight kills and seven blocks to lead the Panthers. Sophomore Chellsa Ferdinand (Queens, N.Y.) dished out 28 assists and classmate Gigi Alper (Mill Valley, Calif.) recorded a team-high 22 digs in the win.
The Green and White led 16-15 in the opening frame before Middlebury rattled off six consecutive points on its way to taking a one-set lead. The Panthers followed with 10 kills and took advantage of 10 errors by the Beavers in the second set to build a commanding 2-0 lead.
Babson led by as many as six and trailed by as much as four in a third set that featured 10 ties and four lead changes. The Green and White jumped out to a quick 7-1 edge, but found itself down 23-20 late in the frame before rallying to force a fourth set. A kill by Carosotto and a service ace by Miller helped tied the match, and the Beavers got late kills from Carosotto and Puccio to stay alive.
The Green and White led for much of the fourth set and took a 23-20 lead on an error before Middlebury rallied to close out the match. A kill by senior Alice Roberts (Media, Pa.) and an ace by Raffel made it 24-23, and the Panthers took advantage of back-to-back errors following a kill by Miller.
Both teams return to action with a pair of matches on Saturday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The Beavers will take on Tufts and Williams, while Middlebury faces Springfield and MIT.
• The Beavers are now 1-4 all-time against Middlebury.
• Babson's .069 hitting percentage is its lowest since hitting at a .015 clip in a four-set loss to nationally-ranked La Verne back on September 8.
• After setting a new season high on Friday, Beecher is currently 12th on the program's single-season list with 322 digs.
• For just the second time this season and fifth time going back to the start of the 2014 campaign, the Beavers dropped a match when limiting their opponents to a hitting percentage below .150 as Middlebury hit .142 in its win.