Top-ranked Casteel makes statement in sweep of No. 2 Williams Field

April 2, 2024 by Ben Stapley, AZPreps365

Casteel senior Karter Bentley (6) celebrates with teammates and fans after the Colts secured match point against Williams Field Tuesday night. Photo by Ben Stapley

For all the big-time blocks and spectacular kills Casteel showcased offensively Tuesday night, it was the Colts defense that glued together their biggest win of the 2024 season.

Thanks a second set comeback and a consistent defense, No. 1 Casteel took down No. 2 Williams Field in three sets, 25-15, 25-21, 25-20 in a 5A San Tan region showdown at Casteel.

Senior Camdon Varney led the defending 5A champs with 14 kills and three blocks, while Karter Bentley and Brody Hirst combined for 16 kills and eight blocks. Jackson Miller added seven kills, as the Colts got contributions from all over the roster.  Casteel improved to 20-1 on the season, its only loss coming to Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep out of San Francisco, CA.

It was the first loss of the season for Williams Field (14-1). The teams were seperated by .02 points in the 5A power rankings entering Tuesday's contest.

"We put a lot of preparation in for this game and for Williams Field," Casteel coach Ryan Meyn said after the match. "We'd gone through a lot of film and had a good scouting report, so we knew what we were getting into."

Meyn knew his squad had the depth and athleticism to match up with Williams Field, but the biggest challenge would be dealing with 6-7 middle blocker Jaxton Payne. The senior did plenty of damage, blocks with 10 kills and four blocks, but Casteel's frontline of Bentley, Hirst and Varney--all 6-4--was able to manage Payne and the Williams Field attack with steady play above the net on both sides.

"We knew if we could contain (Payne) and their other outside hitters we would be in a good shape," Meyn added. "It was also vital not giving up many service errors which I thought we did a good job of."

After Casteel controlled the first set, Williams Field took charge early in the second set, as Payne made his presence felt above the net with three kills and two blocks. The Blackhawks built a 19-14 lead and just as they appeared to go up 20-14, Casteel got a miraculous play defensively. Jaxon Miller was able to save a ball up near the gym wall, getting it back over to Williams Field side before the Colts eventually won the point, pulling within four (19-15). 

The save gave Casteel momentum, going on a 6-2 run before eventually pulling out a 25-22 win in set two, deflating Williams Field and giving the Colts control of the match.

"That defensive save and rally in game two really turned the matched back in our favor and gave us momentum," Meyn added.

"One thing we've really been consistent with is our defense and that really kept us in control tonight."

Junior Libero Layton Bluth amassed 32 digs for Casteel, and Hayden Hurley had 30 assists.

For Williams Field, Cole Miller added eight kills and two blocks, while Travis Ebner had six kills.