Volleyball sweeps Hamilton on the road for fourth win in last five matches

Junior captain Gabi Eustache tallied a team-high 16 digs in the Bates volleyball team's 3-0 win at Hamilton on Friday, October 5, 2018. (File photo by Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

CLINTON, N.Y. -- Junior Taylor Stafford-Smith tallied a match-high 17 kills to lead the Bates volleyball team to a 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-11) win Friday night at Hamilton. 

The Bobcats (7-4, 2-3 NESCAC) are off to their best start overall since 2009 and they have won four of their last five matches.

Stafford-Smith (Calabasas, Calif.) also tallied 10 digs and senior Claire Naughton (Darien, Conn.) added 10 kills and four kills of her own. Junior captain Julia Panepinto (Buffalo, N.Y.) recorded a match-high 39 assists and fellow junior captain Gabi Eustache (New York, N.Y.) tallied a team-high 16 digs and a pair of service aces. Senior Lauren Brough (Killingworth, Conn.) contributed 11 digs and two service aces.

Jane Fanning paced the Continentals (4-8, 0-6 NESCAC) with seven kills while Nikki Matsuoka recorded a match-high 20 digs. Emma Parkhurst led Hamilton in assists with 16.

The first set proved to be the most stressful for the Bobcats on Friday. Hamilton took a 19-16 lead on a Parkhurst kill. But sophomore Ruby Lightbourn (Los Angeles, Calif.) answered with a kill of her own. A Hamilton attack error made the score 19-18 and Brough recorded one of her two service aces to tie the set at 19. 

With the set tied at 21, Stafford-Smith tallied a kill to put Bates ahead for good. A Hamilton attack error, a Eustache service ace and another Stafford-Smith kill clinched the first set for the Bobcats.

Bates fell behind 9-6 in the second set before going on a 3-0 run, keyed by a Naughton kill and a Naughton service ace respectively. After the Bobcats fell down 10-9, Lightbourn tied things at 10 with a kill and a Hamilton attack error put Bates ahead for good. Lightbourn finished the match with eight kills and eight digs. 

Up 15-13, the Bobcats went on a quick 4-0 run to gain some distance from the Continentals. The run began with a Stafford-Smith kill and culminated with another Naughton kill. The Bobcats pushed their lead to 22-25 and ended the set on a 3-0 run, with sophomore Angel Echipue (Munich, Germany) clinching things with a kill. Echipue finished the match with nine kills.

The Bobcats left no doubt in the third set, never trailing on their way to a 25-11 win. Bates immediately jumped out to a 6-1 lead, keyed by a pair of Stafford-Smith kills. Then Bates extended its lead to 12-3, forcing Hamilton to call timeout after the Continentals committed an attack error.

With the score 23-10 in favor of Bates, Stafford-Smith recorded back-to-back kills to clinch the match.

The Bobcats continue their weekend road trip with a match against Williams on Saturday, which gets underway at 2pm.