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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Hamilton leaves Notre Dame to return closer to home

Aubrey Hamilton goes up for a serve in Marquette volleyball’s 3-2 win over then-No. 11 Kentucky Aug. 26. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Ever since Aubrey Hamilton could crawl she has been in the gym.

“I just lived in the gym since I was a baby and I just never left,” Hamilton said.

The junior outside hitter watched from the bleachers as her mom, Heidi Bunek-Hamilton coached basketball at Arrowhead High School in Hartland, Wisconsin. As she got older, she went from the bleachers to the court playing basketball and volleyball.

Hamilton’s mom won four Wisconsin state titles at Pius XI before finishing in the Top Five at the University of Notre Dame in career points and rebounds per game from 1985-89 under head coach Muffet McGraw.

Though neither of her parents played volleyball, Hamilton said having their support to play the sport she loved was something she valued. 

“I absolutely loved it, since none of my parents played volleyball, they didn’t know much about it, so they were supportive and they weren’t really coaching me which I loved,” Hamilton said. “In basketball all they did was coach me, but they are very supportive, and they give advice here and there.”

In 2019, Hamilton helped lead Arrowhead High School to a state title. She then followed in her mom’s footsteps, taking her talents to Notre Dame to begin her collegiate career.

Across her two seasons with the Fighting Irish, Hamilton racked up 511 kills, 136 digs and 80 blocks.

However, it didn’t feel quite right for Hamilton at Notre Dame she said. This led her to return to her home state and transfer to Marquette.

“I chose Marquette because I liked (head coach) Ryan (Theis) and his philosophy and the culture here,” Hamilton said. “(Also) I wanted to be closer to home because I experienced already three and a half hours away, so it’s nice being home now.”

Hamilton will get to see her friends and family a lot early in the season, as the Golden Eagles kick off a 10-game home stand Tuesday night against Loyola University Chicago.

“It’s awesome, ” Hamilton said. “Now I have so much support and everyone cheering me on. It makes me feel like I can do it and play well.”

Ever since Hamilton arrived at Marquette, head coach Ryan Theis noticed a unique aspect of her game that he hasn’t had in his time with the Golden Eagles.

“I think there was a day in practice where I think she jumped in and blocked three balls in a matter of five minutes and I think she was 1-on-1 in two of them, that kind of stood out,” Theis said. “I don’t know if we’ve had a physical left side blocker like her.”

Theis said he can see both the short-term and long-term of Hamilton’s impact on the team and where she could be three years down the road in the program.

“The initial impact will be point scoring and efficiency, she doesn’t make a lot of errors,” Theis said. “Her all around game is developing and can we get her to be an elite back row player? Attacking out of the back row as a significant part of her game, I’d like to see her expand that back row part.”

Hamilton, along with senior outside hitter Hannah Vanden Berg, are the only two upper-level players at the outside hitter position.

Vanden Berg said that while she is still sidelined after her season-ending injury last season, Hamilton has taken up the role of leading by example.

“She’s (Hamilton) kind of showing them how it should be done, even if she said she might not be the most vocal,” Vanden Berg said. “She’s doing stuff right and it sets a good example for all the other players.”

Hamilton said that she hopes the rest of the team will see how she is trying to be a leader.

“Hopefully the girls will pick up on that, the younger girls will just kind of follow along and know that I’m trying to lead, but not by voice but by example,” Hamilton said.

While most of the time on and off the court, Hamilton is a direct and serious person, Theis said that there is another side to her the more time you spend with her.

“As (you get to) know her and see her interact with her peers, she’s got a little bit of silliness to her that once and a while I can see from a distance, she doesn’t do a lot of it with me,” Theis said.

With that personality, Vanden Berg said it has been good for the team to have her.

“Aubrey’s great, she’s a great teammate, a great person,” Vanden Berg said. “Her coming in with her personality has been really good for the team and the team dynamics.”

Hamilton was able to get a jump start with her new squad as she transferred in for the spring 2022 semester. While most of the team was new for Hamilton during the spring, she did have some familiar faces going back to her time with the Milwaukee Sting Volleyball club.

“I played in the same club with Samantha Naber, Caroline (Dragani), Adriana (Studer) and I played against Ella Foti in some club games and tournaments,” Hamilton said. “It’s just nice knowing that someone else coming into this.”

Theis said with Hamilton being able to get a few extra months of practice last spring, has been one of the “biggest keys” to her success and transition with the team.

In Marquette’s season opener 3-2 win over then-No. 11 Kentucky, Hamilton put up a healthy stat line of 18 kills, seven digs and two blocks.

As Hamilton begins her Marquette career, she said she hopes to bring an impact in the short term and long term.

“I hope to bring another strong front row player, bring a good asset in the back row too with attacking and just be a great all-around player,” Hamilton said.

This article was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JacksonGrossMU.

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