Tyler Henry
ASU Student Journalist

Hamilton wins early season clash at Desert Vista

September 13, 2018 by Tyler Henry, Arizona State University

Hamilton libero Bella Zapata tracks down a ball out of play in the third set against Desert Vista. (Photo by Tyler Henry)

After a 4-0 start to Hamilton’s volleyball season, murmurs of another excellent year were once again heard around state. But on Thursday evening, the Huskies had their mettle tested, as they marched into Desert Vista High School, looking to defend their No. 3 position in the 6A rankings against the fourth-ranked Thunder.

For Hamilton, things looked a little shaky early on as the team dropped the second set despite leading 22-16, but the Huskies quickly rebounded, defeating Desert Vista in four sets.

“If we can play, not at the top of our game, and still come out with a win, we’re gonna be okay,” said Hamilton coach Sharon Vanis.

The charge was led by senior captain and NAU commit Taylor Jacobsen, and standout freshman Jordan Middleton, who led the team in blocks from the front line. Jacobsen, who finished the match with 13 kills, including six in a pivotal third set, has settled into her role as one of the few veteran starters on the team.

“I think there are times when our team gets down, other teams go on a run, and I just feel like as a senior captain I have to come into that spot and pick it up for my team,” Jacobsen said.

Desert Vista is even younger than Hamilton, sporting a varsity roster devoid of a single senior.

Desert Vista coach Molly West was proud of how her young squad played despite the loss.

“I thought my kids played really hard," West said. "We’re getting better every day and they showed a lot of grit and a lot of fight. I’m really pleased."

For Hamilton, this was just one of two tough road games this week, after they defeated fifth-ranked Mountain Pointe in four sets on Tuesday. The Huskies understand the gravity of these wins, as they continue to chase an ever-elusive state title.

“It’s a super big deal. Every game counts for state, and that’s our goal this season,” Jacobsen said.

Despite a great pair of wins this week, Vanis still sees room for improvement, specifically in the aggressiveness of her team's serving, but she has been pleased with the way games like this are preparing her team for the future.

“We’re young too," she said. "Most of the time we only have one senior on the floor so that’s why you play these games, to get better and better."

Hamilton will take its undefeated record into the Westwood Tournament of Champions on Friday, looking to continue its winning ways. Desert Vista hits the road next week for a showdown with Highland on Monday.