‘No regrets’ for Hamilton as volleyball begins - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

‘No regrets’ for Hamilton as volleyball begins

September 5th, 2019 development
‘No regrets’ for Hamilton as volleyball begins
Sports and Recreation

By Zach Alvira
Sports Editor

Hamilton High School’s volleyball program has long endured success under coach Sharon Vanis.

Vanis took over the program ahead of the 2005 season and has since coached the Huskies to the playoffs every season, including seven appearances in the semifinals. Hamilton has been the runner-up in the state’s toughest conference three times.

Her experience at the collegiate level transformed the Hamilton program, and it has allowed several players to move on to play Division I volleyball. It’s her reputation that has allowed Hamilton to become a breeding ground for some of the top volleyball talent in the state in recent years.

“Coach (Vanis) is the driving force for everything,” senior captain Bailey Williams said. “Anything she says, any drill she throws at us, we all want to learn from her. We don’t know when she is going to retire, but when she does this program won’t be the same without her.”

Hamilton’s reputation as one of the top programs in the state comes while playing in one of the toughest regions, the Premier. Along with the Huskies, the Premier Region includes Chandler High, Basha High, Perry High and Xavier Prep — which has won eight of the last 13 state titles.

Outside of region play this season, Hamilton’s schedule doesn’t get any easier.

The Huskies will play in the Tournament of Champions on Sept. 13 at Westwood High School, as well as the Nike Tournament of Champions on Oct. 4. A trip out west to San Diego on Oct. 11-12 will pin the Huskies against some of the top teams in California.

The brutal schedule will challenge Hamilton on a nightly basis, giving little room for error if the Huskies want to claim a top seed in the postseason tournament for a deep playoff run.

“We plan to be competitive every time we step out onto the floor,” Vanis said. “Our motto this season is to ‘fight to the finish.’

“We are going to go out there with no regrets and leave everything on the floor.”

Hamilton will be led this season by its two senior captains, setter Reilly Babcock and outside hitter Bailey Williams.

Four other seniors, middle blocker India Rhodes, middle hitter Kyra McCain, outside hitter Kaia Gosh and libero Bella Zapata, make up an extremely close-knit 2020 class.

“We’ve played together since we (were) 8 years old,” Babcock said. “Each person is different. But being together for so long, you learn what buttons to push to try and help them succeed and do their best.”

Three juniors, a talented class of sophomores and freshman outside hitter Neomi Beach make up the rest of Hamilton’s team this season.

All of them are willing to learn from the senior class. They recognize that with their guidance, it can help lead them to success beyond this season.

“We really are 17 strong,” Williams said. “We are all confident in one another and know each one of us can get the job done on the floor.”

Williams, Reilly and the rest of the team are focused on a state title this season. They are confident in their ability to compete but know it will take execution on the court during every match.

“We look really good, that’s all I can say,” Babcock said. “Winning the state championship is always the goal in our mind.

“We are going to work hard in every practice, every game, every match to get to our goal.”