Hamilton HS wins its first Westwood TOC volleyball title

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                </div>The Westwood Tournament of Champions annual volleyball tournament has turned out to be a major source of frustration for Desert Vista High School in recent years.  And Hamilton High just […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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The Westwood Tournament of Champions annual volleyball tournament has turned out to be a major source of frustration for Desert Vista High School in recent years.  And Hamilton High just added to that sense of futility over the weekend.

The Huskies won the Gold Division in this year’s edition of what is generally considered the first major tournament of the season, sweeping all four of the teams it faced in the event’s 12-team top bracket.

Hamilton beat Sunnyslope High School in its semi-final match and Desert Vista won over Chaparral High in its semi to set up the championship match.  For Desert Vista, this was the second straight year the Thunder made it to the finals – and the second straight year they came up empty.

Last year, they were beaten by the top-ranked team in the state, Horizon High, in straight sets, 25-15, 25-19.  This year it was Hamilton that needed just two sets to pull the rug from under the Thunder, winning 25-22, 25-13.

Horizon, which returned seven players from last year’s state championship squad and is the team to beat in Division I again this year, wasn’t among the 37-team field this year.  And Xavier Prep, which also didn’t participate, won the Westwood TOC title the two years previous to Horizon taking over last year.

This tournament, hosted by Westwood High School in Mesa, is loaded with top teams each year.

Both Hamilton and Desert Vista, this year’s opponents in the title game, have run up 15-1 records and will be serious contenders for the 2013 state title.  And Gilbert High School, which was beaten in this TOC by Hamilton, won the House of Payne Tournament a couple of weeks ago.  The Tigers are 20-3 on the season.

The addition of McKenna Woodford this year has done much to energize a Hamilton team that returned just two players from last season, and her performance at the TOC showed the impact she is having.  The 6’3″ outside hitter, a transfer from Red Rock High School in Sedona, led the effort in the title game against Desert Vista with eight kills and 11 digs, while sophomore teammate Jessica Williams contributed 16 assists to the win.

This was Hamilton’s first championship in the Westwood TOC and, after the first set in the title match, the Huskies weren’t sure they were going to get this one.  Doubts also lingered from the meeting with Desert Vista earlier in the day, when the Thunder won in two sets to give Hamilton its only tournament loss.

The first set of the championship match was tied at 18-18 and both teams responded with scoring surges before Hamilton put it away, using a pair of kills by Woodford for momentum.

But the Huskies took an early lead in the second set and never let Desert Vista get up off the mat.