Volleyball outlasts Bates in thrilling five-set NESCAC match

#17 Dorothy Poucher '21 (Michael P. Doherty photo)
#17 Dorothy Poucher '21 (Michael P. Doherty photo)

Hamilton College's Dorothy Poucher '21 helped lead the Continentals to a five-set NESCAC win against the Bates College Bobcats at Bates' Alumni Gym on Friday night.

The set scores were 25-19, 15-25, 25-21, 18-25 and 15-13. The Bobcats held a 15-5 advantage in service aces but Hamilton neutralized that with a 9-5 edge in blocks. The Continentals (7-5, 3-3 NESCAC) lead the conference with 2.10 blocks per set.

Poucher smashed a season-high 15 kills, tied another season best with three aces and added six blocks. Giuliana Rankin '20 hammered 13 kills, Courtney Brown '18 chipped in 12 and Nikki Matsuoka '21 had 10 with just one error. Matsuoka led the defense with 33 digs -- the most by any Hamilton player so far this year -- and Christine Zizzi '18 was credited with 25. Kyndal Burdin '18 passed out 47 assists and recorded 19 digs.

Bates' Taylor Stafford-Smith led all players with 17 kills and added 25 digs. Ruby Lightbourn registered 10 kills, 19 digs and a match-high four aces. Jacqueline Forney handed out 50 assists and Gabi Eustache paced the defense with 35 digs.

The Bobcats (7-7, 1-4) led 12-9 midway through the first set but the Continentals took the lead with a 9-1 run that was helped by three Poucher blocks and a pair of kills by Brown. Bates self-destructed with five attack errors and a ball-handling error. The Bobcats climbed back to within 21-19 but Hamilton closed out the set with four straight points. Kills by Matsuoka and Margaret O'Brien '18 clinched the set for Hamilton.

The Continentals jumped out to an early 4-1 lead in the second set. Bates rattled off the next six points and Hamilton didn't get closer than two the rest of the set. The Bobcats finished the set with 12 kills and no attack errors in 39 attempts.

The visitors bolted out of the gates in the third set with four straight points and Bates never led until late in the set at 20-19 and again at 21-20. The Continentals secured the set by winning the next five points on two kills by Poucher, one each by Rankin and Matsuoka and a Bobcats attack error.

Neither team led by more than five points until very late in a tight fourth set. The score was tied at 16-16 when Bates went on a 9-2 run and tied things up at two sets apiece.

The fifth set teetered back-and-forth as nobody led by more than two points at any time. Hamilton led 8-6 but a timeout by the Bobcats led to four straight points and a 10-8 Bates advantage. The Bobcats still held a 13-12 edge when Brown tied the score with a kill. The Continentals went up 14-13 on a Bates attack error and Rankin closed out the match with a kill.

Hamilton travels to Colby College in Waterville, Maine, for another NESCAC match on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 1 p.m.