2019 Season Preview
HAVERFORD, Pa. – In each of the past two seasons, the Haverford College volleyball team has said a reluctant goodbye to a sole senior that made a lasting impact on the program both on and off the court. Zoe Wong '18 and Natalie Pisch '19 were both Ambler Scholar Athletes as well as important members of the team's on-the-floor leadership core, earning All-Conference designations and making imprints on the team's all-time record books during their tenures on campus.
In the fall of 2019, the impact of those vital leaders will be on display vividly, as the youthful Fords of the past two seasons now look to chase down a postseason berth with an experienced core of returners, as well as two newcomers ready to contribute immediately. A preseason trip to Portugal served as a further chance for the returners to get some early experience against talented international competition.
A senior class that includes four difference-makers will help to set the tone for the team on a daily basis. Co-captain Sara Matsumura will be called upon as the libero, as she continues her ascendency in the all-time digs list at Haverford. Matsumura, a Second-team All-Conference pick a season ago, was the Centennial Conference leader in digs in 2018, posting 487 while reaching double-digit digs in each contest in which she appeared. Joining Matsumura in the captaincy is outside hitter Kendall Robison. Robison was limited by injury during her first two years at Haverford, but emerged last season with 30 service aces in just 27 matches.
Middle blocker Julia Gallagher-Teske enters the season with 299 career blocks, and was one of two players on the squad to see action in every set. Her 112 blocks a season ago tied for the second-most in the program's single-season history. Another performer making a significant mark in Centennial Conference play, Gallagher-Teske paced the conference in both blocks and blocks per set and is one of the conference's most feared players at the net. Defensive specialist Christine Anderson appeared in five matches a season ago, and made an immediate splash with three service aces in an October match against Kean.
Haverford's trio of returning juniors include right side Madison Adore, setter Sydney Miller, and outside hitter Claire Nicholas. Adore (1.5 kills per set in 2018) and Nicholas (1.67 kills per set in 2018) are a large part of Haverford's expanded hitting core. The two stepped in immediately as first years on the 2017 squad, and have been called upon with regularity since that season. With Miller expected to start the season as a primary setter, her experience as a floor general for the Fords will be integral to the team's early season success, as matches come early and often in the first three weeks of the season with tournament play reaching its apex in late September.
The large group of newcomers in 2018 is back and ready to make an expanded impact on the Centennial Conference landscape. Defensive specialists Elena Filograna and Isabel Schwam provided an important dimension to Haverford's game a season ago, as serving and defense is sure to be emphasized in Coach Hargrave's game plans for 2019. The pair will be integral to Haverford's aggressive defensive philosophy in the new season. Sara Hunsberger stepped in as the starting setter in her first year season, and proved to be a valiant performer in that role, with double-digit assist totals in 22 of her 23 starts on the year. Dina Kosyagin (2.4 kills per set in 2018) added a powerful attacking option to the offense, posting the second-most kills on the squad, including a stretch of five double-digit kill totals in just six contests. Right side/middle blocker Riley Outen also stormed onto the spotlight in her first season on the floor, ranking second on the team in blocks, and third in kills.
The Class of 2023 includes outside hitter Lindsey Keener (Harrisburg, Pa.) and middle blocker/right side Kendall Otridge (San Francisco, Calif.). Both players are expected to be key members of the squad immediately.
Haverford will host 14 home matches inside Gooding '84 Arena, as part of a 30-game slate. New this season is the Ford Invitational, a second-weekend home tournament that allows Haverford to stay within the friendly confines of its campus for the first eight contests of the season. The traditional lid-lifter, the Haverford Invitational, is slated for a coveted Labor Day weekend slot, as the Fords will do battle with a first-time opponent in Wells as well as Vassar on the first day of the season (Aug. 31). The second day of the tournament features a more familiar foe in Eastern as well as a Medaille squad that will be making its first trip to Haverford (Sept. 1).