Hamilton advanced to the Division I boys volleyball state semifinals with a hard-fought, 25-22, 20-25, 25-22, 25-21 win over No. 8 Anthem Boulder Creek on Tuesday night at Hamilton.
The top-seeded Huskies (36-7) will face No. 5 Gilbert at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Gilbert High School.
This match featured several lead changes, momentum shifts and a whole lot of Hamilton senior Taua Bader.
Bader led the Huskies with a game high 19 kills, most of which came at big moments to either keep Hamilton in the game or to provide some breathing room in a tight contest.
“We kept a good mindset to go out there and play with as much emotion as possible and as much all out as possible.” Taua said.
Both teams went toe-to-toe in game one, which featured seven lead changes and 11 ties.
The Jaguars came back in game two and led by as much as six. Hamilton tied the game twice (at 1-1 and 11-11) but the Huskies were never able to get over the hump.
“In the second game they played very strong.” Hamilton coach Jeff Bader said. “They were scrappy and were a very powerful team.”
It appeared that game three might be headed down that same path. After an early lead for Hamilton, Boulder Creek pulled in front and led 9-6. That’s when Bader and the rest of the Huskies took control of the match.
Bader had a huge kill to bring Hamilton to within 10-9 and then after tying it up a couple times the Huskies took a 14-13 lead and would never trail again in the match.
Taua Bader wasn’t the only Husky to have a good match. Mike McPherson finished with 14 kills and four blocks, Saige Gonsalves added 2 aces and 16 digs and Zach Melcher contributed 50 assists.
“We played really hard and had a lot of mistakes in that second game.” Taua said “But we came back hard in that third and fourth game and got it done.”
Jeff Bader knew the match was closer than the 3-1 score indicated and is just happy to be moving on. Hamilton and Gilbert met once during the regular season with the Huskies winning in four games. It was Gilbert's only power point match loss of the season.
“We know they didn’t play very well that night," Jeff Bader said, "so we are expecting to get a great game from them.”