SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — For the past several weeks, the members of the Glendale High girls' volleyball team have practiced inside the school's steamy gymnasium and have grown accustomed to the environment with little to no air conditioning available.
On Wednesday afternoon, Glendale found out what it's like to participate in a match in similar sweltering conditions.
To complicate matters, Glendale had the arduous task of competing against Alverno's Jessica Hamilton.
Hamilton finished with a match-high 34 kills to lead Alverno to a 25-21, 25-16, 17-25, 25-14 nonleague win against Glendale in a season-opening contest for both squads.
"We've been practicing the last few weeks in the heat, so we should be used to the conditions by now," Glendale Coach Jennifer Vo said. "You can't say that it's a factor.
"We didn't have a lot of energy. [Hamilton] is a very good player and we couldn't adjust to her."
Hamilton helped Alverno gain a split of the Horizon League championship last season with Holy Family and was selected the league's most valuable player. Hamilton put on a clinic against the Nitros, who had no response.
Hamilton had 10 kills in the first game and eight in the second. She then finished with seven kills in the third game and nine in the last game.
Alverno Coach Brent Fabri said Hamilton stood out during the critical junctures of the match.
"She's become a smarter player each year she's been here," Fabri said. "When she first came up, she just wanted to hit.
"Since then, she's learned to be able to pound the ball at times and then tip it during other times. In the past when we've gotten up, 2-0, we've had a tendency to fall. We had to figure out a way to stay focused after we lost the third game. We did a better job blocking and playing defense in the fourth game."
Glendale received seven kills apiece from Kimberly Coffman and Andrea Popescu.
Alverno held a 16-12 advantage in the first game before Glendale stormed back to tie it at 16 on an ace by Gabrielle Magpantay. However, the Jaguars closed out on a 9-5 run.
In the second game, the Jaguars raced to an 8-2 lead on a kill by Hamilton. The Nitros could get no closer than 15-12 on a kill by Coffman.
The Nitros bounced back in the third game. After trailing, 9-7, on a kill by Alexandra Overstreet, the Nitros used a 7-3 run to take a 14-12 lead. Glendale finished the game going on a 9-1 run that included a pair of kills by Coffman.
"I thought we had great serve-receiving in the third game," Vo said. "In the first two games, we were boring to watch, and maybe that's because we were down two games."
Alverno led throughout the fourth game and never came close to relinquishing the advantage.