2019 volleyball season preview

Hamilton players celebrate a point in a win against SUNY Geneseo on Sept. 26, 2018 (Josh McKee photo).
Hamilton players celebrate a point in a win against SUNY Geneseo on Sept. 26, 2018 (Josh McKee photo).

For the second year in a row, Hamilton College will start its season with the Hawks Invitational at SUNY New Paltz.

The Continentals take on the hosts and Mount Saint Mary College on Friday, Sept. 6, and wrap up the tournament on Saturday with matches against Alfred University and SUNY Oneonta. So far only New Paltz has a losing record out of those four after the first weekend of the regular season.

Middle blocker Dorothy Poucher '21 led Hamilton with 2.26 kills per set and a hitting percentage of .226 in 2018. Opposite Giuliana Rankin '20 and setter Emma Parkhurst '21 also averaged more than two kills per set, and Parkhurst posted a .202 hitting percentage. Outside hitter and opposite Jane Fanning '22 and middle blocker Kendall Boxe '22 averaged more than a kill per set in their first year of collegiate volleyball.

Parkhurst is the leading returning setter with 354 last year, but Jo Dine '22, Deirdre Corrigan '23 and Sophia Bernstein '23 are also listed at the position on this year's roster. Corrigan's older sister Brenna '14 was one of the Continentals' top hitters and defenders from 2010 to 2013.

Hamilton ranked second in the NESCAC in service aces per set in conference matches a year ago. Poucher was the team's leader with 31 while outside hitter and defensive specialist Maddy LaPoint '22 and libero and defensive specialist Nikki Matsuoka '21 added 19 apiece.

Matsuoka finished 2018 third in total digs (399) and fourth in digs per set (5.25) in the NESCAC. Parkhurst and libero and defensive specialist Kayla Self '21 also averaged better than two digs per set last year. Parkhurst was named to the 2018 Volleyball Hall of Fame Induction Tournament's all-tournament team after she registered a triple-double in kills, assists and digs against Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Boxe led the defense at the net last season with 44 blocks and Poucher and Rankin chipped in 33 apiece. The 6-foot, 1-inch Poucher topped the Continentals with 226.5 points in 2018.

Kendall Searcy '20, who is another libero and defensive specialist, returns to the squad after studying off campus last fall. Searcy has 379 digs and 41 aces in her two-year Hamilton career. Parkhurst and Searcy are the team captains.

The Continentals won eight matches last year including a victory against Colby in three sets on Senior Day. Hamilton's home opener at Margaret Bundy Scott Field House is Sept. 20 against Cazenovia College in non-conference action. The Continentals take on Trinity in a NESCAC clash at Scott Field House on Sept. 21 and also host conference matches against Williams (Sept. 27), Bates (Oct. 11), Colby (Oct. 12), Amherst (Nov. 1) and Middlebury (Nov. 2). Hamilton will play three matches at a tournament hosted by SUNY Brockport in mid-September as well as four matches in the North Jersey Challenge at Kean University and Stevens Institute of Technology in mid-October.