Young volleyball squad shows resilience in five-set NESCAC loss

Nikki Matsuoka ’21 (Josh McKee photo)
Nikki Matsuoka ’21 (Josh McKee photo)

Hamilton College's Nikki Matsuoka '21 served up a personal-best four aces and added 28 digs as the Continentals dropped a five-set NESCAC match against the Connecticut College Camels at Conn. College's Luce Field House on Friday night.

The match marked the conference opener for both squads.

Hamilton (2-3 overall) won the first set 25-22. Conn. College (4-3) came back to win set two and three by scores of 28-26 and 25-21, respectively, before the Continentals rallied for a 25-22 win in the fourth to force a fifth and deciding set. The Camels posted a 15-6 set score in the fifth for the 3-2 victory.

Led by Matsuoka, the Continentals recorded a season-high 11 service aces. Maddy LaPoint '22 accounted for three aces, and both Meghan Wilkinson '19 and Dorothy Poucher '21 had two.

Giuliana Rankin '20 led the attack with a season-high 17 kills, followed by nine apiece from Claire Kitz '19 and Poucher. Emma Parkhurst '21 posted 31 assists and 14 digs, and Wilkinson added 16 digs and 10 assists.

Senior Maddie Rust posted a career-high 24 kills for Conn. College. Grace McGee totaled 49 assists, 13 digs and three aces. Katie Howley had 19 digs and 10 kills, and Eliza Wolcott and Dayna McCue both had 19 digs.

After falling behind 2-0 in the opening set, Hamilton scored five unanswered for a 5-2 lead that the Continentals never surrendered on the way to a 25-22 first set win.

The Camels took the early 7-2 lead in the second stanza before Hamilton battled back to tie the game at 10-10 with an ace from Wilkinson. The Continentals refused to go away, tying the score 10 more times before the Camels capitalized on a Hamilton service error and a kill by Rust gave the home team a 28-26 win.

The young Hamilton squad continued to show its resilience in the third set, battling back from a 7-1 deficit to again tie the score at 10-all. The Continentals took the 16-15 lead off a Camel attack error, but Conn. College rebounded by outscoring Hamilton 10-5 to win set three.

For the fourth set in a row, Hamilton recovered from an early deficit. The Camels had a 4-1 lead before a bad set by Conn. College's McCue sparked a seesaw battle. A kill by Rankin gave Hamilton the lead for good at 14-13. Rankin added three more kills before the end of the set and LaPoint smashed an ace to give the Continentals a 25-22 win.

Rust accounted for five of the Camels' 10 kills en route to a 15-6 victory in the final set.

Hamilton travels to Middletown, Conn. on Saturday to take on Wesleyan University (3-1, 1-0 NESCAC), the defending 2017 NESCAC Champions, at 2 p.m.