---- — PLATTSBURGH — Continuing her recent stretch of dominant performances, sophomore Laura Diehl floored a team-high 16 kills on just 26 attack attempts, but it wasn’t enough to lead the Plattsburgh State volleyball team past a talented Middlebury squad on Tuesday night at Memorial Hall.
The Cardinals fell in three sets (26-24, 25-15, 25-22) during their battle against the NESCAC institution. With the setback, Plattsburgh State slips to 6-10 while the Panthers still possess a perfect record at 10-0.
Playing in its penultimate home bout of 2013, the Cardinals came out and kept it close with the Panthers in the first set. After falling behind 3-1 in the early stages of the frame, terminations from Diehl and Rosi Cummings produced the second of 18 deadlocks during the set.
Moments after consecutive kills from Diehl helped the Cardinals obtain an 18-17 lead, the Panthers turned to their powerful brigade of outside hitters to take control of the set. Amy Hart hammered down four consecutive kills for Middlebury before another pair of terminations from Diehl brought the Cardinals to within 21-20.
After surrendering another two points to the Panthers, Plattsburgh State reeled off three straight points, culminating with a solo block from sophomore Jeanette Braun to knot the score at 23. From there, Hart transferred control of the Middlebury offense to Megan Jarchow who smashed three kills to give the Panthers an extra-point win in the first set.
Determined to tie the match at one set each, the Cardinals began the second frame on a 5-1 run thanks in large part to four kills between Diehl and junior Maggie Schrantz.
The Cardinals were able to maintain a lead of four points, but upon earning a 9-5 advantage, Middlebury’s offense began to fire on all cylinders.
Middlebury amassed four of their nine service aces during the course of a 15-3 run that allowed the visitors to grab a 20-12 lead. The Cardinals could only muster up three additional points in the second frame and found themselves looking up at a 2-0 match score.
The Panthers put together an attack percentage of .323 in the second frame while limiting the Cardinals to a mark of .107.
Once again, the Cardinals rushed out to an early 3-1 advantage in the deciding frame, but the Panthers came back to tie things a three points each. The two teams traded scores before Middlebury’s offensive muscles began to flex once again.
Tied at nine, Plattsburgh State gave up an 11-3 surge by the visitors that put the Cardinals as a 20-12 disadvantage.
Although the Cardinals marshaled their offensive forces for an attempt to come back, they never got closer than two points away from managing it and Melanie English put home the final kill of the match for the Panthers.
Aside from Diehl, no other Plattsburgh State player reached double-digit territory in terms of kills. Cummings and Schrantz each finished with seven while senior Amanda Wickers hustled down a match-high 15 digs.
As a team, the Cardinals hit .214, but couldn’t keep up with the Panthers who hit .311. Plattsburgh State outpaced the visitors in blocks, 5-2.
Jarchow racked up a match-high 20 kills for the Panthers and she was complimented by Hart who picked up a double-double with 17 kills and 13 assists to go along with a match-high four service aces.
Plattsburgh State will pack its bags for yet another lengthy road trip on Friday and Saturday. Rochester is the destination the Cardinals will travel to as they plan to take part in the Purple & Gold Invitational hosted by Nazareth College. Plattsburgh State’s first of three opponents will be Buffalo State with the Cardinals and Bengals scheduled to begin their quest for a nonconference victory at 8 p.m. on Friday night.