West's Hamon overcomes injury in offseason
For Rachel Hamon, her biggest challenge didn't take place during the varsity volleyball season.
Instead, it was a personal challenge she faced in the offseason.
She had to fight to return to form after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery to attach a bone to her shoulder blade last December.
"Especially to overcome that struggle, it's really taken a lot of determination and hard work to get to where I am right now," Hamon said.
Hamon had right-shoulder surgery in December weeks after West was eliminated in the regional semifinals.
In addition to physically rehabilitating from the procedure, she had to take five months off from the game. Sitting and watching wasn't ideal for Hamon.
Through the frustration of watching teammates and peers play volleyball, West volleyball coach Sandy Longoria said that she's seen Hamon appreciate the game more this season.
"I don't ever have to question Rachel's work ethic or her desire," Longoria said. "That's one thing I really love about her is I know she's going to bring everything all the time. It makes my job a whole lot easier."
After a 2011 season where she was named to the Advocate's all-area second team and having surgery, Hamon started getting back into the swing of things this summer beginning with summer league volleyball in June.
Soon after, she set her sights on the beginning of her senior season.
"Inside, it was an awesome feeling to get back on the court doing what I love," Hamon said. "But, at the same time, I knew I wasn't where I used to be at the end of last season. It was a struggle with me, but I knew I could do it and I wanted to play hard my senior year so I did all I had to do to get back there."
This season has brought a new role for Hamon. She had to accept a bigger role at middle blocker to replace Brooke Smith, the Advocate's 2011 Offensive Player of the Year who signed with Texas State.
Despite needing to fill the void left by a Western Athletic Conference-caliber player, the Warriors are right where they were a year ago, undefeated in District 30-4A play.
"Brooke was a big asset to our team, but there's some girls that have really stepped up this year and I think that's why we are where we are," Hamon said.
With the season winding down and the playoffs approaching, the end is near for Hamon and outside hitter Kelsea Kalich, the only remaining players that have been a part of all three varsity teams since the school opened in 2010.
"I try to cherish everything that I do now and play with the most effort I can every single game," Hamon said.
The Warriors are 30-5 on the season, including a perfect 9-0 district record. The Titans are 19-12 and 5-4 in district.
West has won 27 of 29 games during district play.
The volleyball match between the schools always has extra excitement on campus, it may be even more so on Friday since the East-West volleyball match at East precedes the football game at Memorial Stadium.
Although the hallways may be abuzz for the annual meeting on the gridiron and bi-annual match on the volleyball court, Longoria said the Warriors understand what excitement vs. preparation means and they won't let the hype serve as a distraction.
"We handle one team at a time, we try to weigh them all the same, even though it's a huge rivalry for us," Longoria said. "They all understand that we have to take one at a time and be ready for the next opponent."
Hamon said she knows her volleyball career is coming to an end after this season, but that won't stop her from having an interest in West the next few years.
Her younger sister Allison is a sophomore on the team.
"It's really sad, but at the same time, I'm going to come back and visit and watch the legacy be carried over," Hamon said.