By Haley Stesiak
The Hamilton High School girl’s volleyball team has five seniors whose volleyball careers won’t be ending after the 2016 season comes to a close.
Seniors, Preslie Anderson (Cal), Sydney Lostumo (Fresno State), Heaven Harris (NAU), Kimber Kemp (NAU), and Kayla Banyai (Central Washington) will all be continuing their careers at the division one level next fall.
Head coach Sharon Vanis sees a special value in the drive that these five members, as well as 2018 Cal Berkeley commit, Darian Clark, bring to the Huskies.
“I think they’re a little bit more focused because they know their volleyball career is not over in four weeks,” Vanis said. “Their athletic ability is paying for their education, so it’s easy to keep them focused throughout the season.”
Anderson isn’t looking too far ahead to fall of 2017 however. She has her sights set on a state title for her team in her final year as a Husky, she said to Sports360AZ.com.
“I think we’re all really motivated, one to win a ring for Coach Vanis and Coach Higgins because we think they deserve one, and we’ve been together through club and high school, so I think we all know that if we want to get it done we just have to have each other’s backs.”
Team chemistry is what makes this team special and what has helped Lostumo develop her skill.
“We’re all definitely close, it’s like a sisterhood, it’s not an individual sport, we all work together,” Lostumo said.
This year’s graduating class isn’t the first set of high-caliber of athletes that have gone through Hamilton’s program. Since 2014, Vanis has had eight athletes move on to the next level.
“I think we have a pretty good reputation, in the last six or seven years we’ve had over 30 wins,” Vanis said. “Two years ago we had six seniors and they all went on to play college ball, last year we had two seniors and they both went. So each year, seeing those girls go to the next level and not only go, but be successful, I guess I’m very proud of that.”
Lostumo feels that Vanis and assistant coach Katie Higgins help push the team to fulfill it’s potential, she said.
“You definitely come here and you learn a lot,” Lostumo said. “You’re definitely going to go somewhere if you put in the work and definitely Coach Vanis and Coach Higgins, they’ll get you where you need to go.”
Harris transferred to Hamilton from Mountain Pointe in 2015. The Hamilton program has helped her realize volleyball isn’t just about individual talent, it’s about team talent, she said.
“I barely came here last year, but it was easy getting to know everyone and making a new family,” Harris said. “I learned that it’s not just about me, it’s about the whole team.”
Vanis works hard to improve the skills of her players from the freshman level up. She pushes her athletes to give it their all on and off the court in order to flourish at the next level, but she said she can’t take all the credit in their success.
“Most of the big programs are playing right now, so they don’t get into our gym as much, although we’ve had more college coaches come in as of late,” Vanis said. “I have to credit the club coaches and the club recruiting coordinators, they really get them that exposure, I just do my part as a coach trying to get them ready for the next level.”