(Hamilton celebrates after winning Brophy's tournament. Photo by Jose Garcia/aia365.com)
Hamilton’s celebration after winning the state’s premier regular season boys volleyball tournament was mild.
But it was the right reaction for a team that now knows it can bang with the big boys. Hamilton didn’t exactly run away with Brophy’s invitational, loaded with plenty of contenders.
Also, Hamilton was aware that its Saturday’s tournament final opponent, Boulder Creek, played without one of its key starters. But there’s not doubt that Hamilton earned the title in its first Brophy Invitational appearance.
Hamilton didn’t lose in the two-day tournament and swept its two games, 25-21, 26-24, against Boulder Creek in the final.
“We were having issues with the real good teams (before the tournament),” said Hamilton’s sixth-year coach Jeff Bader after Saturday’s final.
It appears that those issues are over.
Bader’s crew has point collectors at different spots on the floor and also starts a couple of great set up men in setter Zach Melcher and libero Saige Gonzsalves. A rested Hamilton team opened Game 1 with a 8-2 run against a Boulder Creek team that came through the losers bracket to reach the final.
But Boulder Creek regained its swagger, going on an 8-0 run to go up 13-11. Gonsalves had his moments during the final, none bigger than when he dug two hard-hit shots with his team winning 19-17 in the first game.
Those digs eventually led to a kill for Hamilton. But Hamilton didn’t really pull away in Game 1 until Boulder Creek made a couple of mistakes down the stretch.
An off-campus commitment kept Boulder Creek senior outside hitter Cody Williams from playing on Saturday, but Boulder Creek still had enough fire power. Ryne Benson fired away successfully from the outside and the back row throughout the tournament, and outside hitter Kennedy McGrath stepped up his game as well.
Senior setter Alex Boyce’s leadership and loud vocal presence also helped Boulder Creek play well without Williams.
“We showed a lot of resolve,” Boulder Creek coach Troy Dueling said.
Boulder Creek led the entire second game until Hamilton tied it at 22-22.
Hamilton then went to its go-to players, Matt Baca (six kills) and Brian Campbell (eight kills), to help finish off Boulder Creek in the final game.