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Different style, same expectations for West (video)

Aug. 9, 2012 at 3:09 a.m.
Updated Aug. 10, 2012 at 3:10 a.m.

West middle blocker Rachel Hamon, left, and outside hitter Kelsea Kalich are two of key returning members of a Victoria West squad that earned a spot in the regional tournament two years in a row.

An important election is on the horizon. The winner would earn an unprecedented victory, before immediately getting to work.

Save the presidential politics for others, the election in question will determine the captain of the Victoria West volleyball team.

In the three-year history of the school, the Warriors have never elected captains. That they will this year is yet another indicator this season will be one of transition - after reaching the regional tournament each of the last two years.

West has four seniors, and just five girls who saw significant playing time return from a squad that swept through District 30-4A en route to a 36-7 record.

As easy as it might be to focus on those who graduated, middle hitter Rachel Hamon isn't one of those people.

The Warriors may not have as much experience, but the senior said her teammates have shown a willingness to learn the nuances head coach Sandy Longoria is imparting.

"We're going to be a great team. I have full faith in every one of them," Hamon said of the newcomers like Deane Gallop, Marit Manning and others. "I'm glad I get to lead them as a senior this year."

In December, Hamon had a procedure to attach a bone to her shoulder blade, which kept her away from volleyball for six months. Surgery wasn't going to stop Hamon from taking the court this fall.

Besides, Hamon gets to play with her younger sister, Allison, who will be either an outside or right-side hitter.

"I'm super excited," Hamon said. "I'm coming back from surgery so it's tough, but exciting to get out there again. . I want to prove to Victoria again that West is capable of what we have done in the past."

As capable as they may be, the path to victory will assuredly be different. Rallies will be longer, because the Warriors do not possess the size and power to intimidate opponents anymore.

Outside hitter Kelsea Kalich said the Warriors still have some powerful hitters, they just come in smaller packages.

Kalich, the team's top returning attacker with 385 kills in 39 regular season matches last year, said West might have to prepare and adjust while defending attacks this year, as opposed to imposing their brand of volleyball on both sides of the net.

"We've learned how to talk more" Kalich said. "It's the little things we've fixed to improve our swing and our passing. Whereas last year, we knew we could put the ball up and hit it."

West's transition was easier because 10 of the 12 girls on the varsity played together over the summer. Though they were not as dominant as in the past, Kalich said that time together will help them through the upcoming season.

The first test of that togetherness will come Tuesday night when the Warriors host St. Joseph in their season-opener.

Kalich said playing St. Joseph to start the season is akin to playing archrival Victoria East. Though West infrequently faces the Flyers "it will still have a rivalry atmosphere and it will be a fun game."



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