Hayden hopes experience yields wins | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden hopes experience yields wins

Hayden Tigers Kaylee Sweetser and her teammates work on spiking during practice last week. The Tigers return four starters and have a total of nine seniors on the squad.
Tyler Arroyo

— If ever there was a year for the Hayden volleyball team to make some noise in Class 2A, this is it.

The Tigers return four starters from last year’s team and have a total of nine seniors on the squad. With all that experience, expectations are high.

“All of us have played together since sixth grade,” senior Emily Whiteman said. “We have all been looking forward to this year.”

But before the players could take the court, first-year head coach Stephanie Davis made sure the veteran team knew it would be forced to work hard.

Since the beginning of summer, the girls have ran a mile a day, done plyometrics, lifted weights and attended volleyball camps.

“This is the hardest we’ve worked in years,” senior Jessica Martin said.

Hayden plays in District 5, where the competition is tough year in and year out. Last year, five teams finished with more than 10 wins, and Meeker was the No. 4 seed in the state playoffs and advanced to the state quarterfinals.

Despite coming off a two-win season, the girls on the Hayden team said last year shouldn’t be a barometer of how it will do this year.

“We’re going to do anything in our power to win,” Martin said. “If there is a weakness on our team, we haven’t found it yet. There’s stuff we have to work on, but we’re real confident. We’re looking toward a fun season with lots of wins.”

Davis said the team must work on its timing and hitting if it is to be successful this year. In her system, the more organized, the better.

“We have to stay in the system,” she said. “If we pass, set and hit at 90 percent, we will win.”

For Davis, the transition to her style of coaching has gone well. Having such a close-knit group of girls – and having them buy into what she’s teaching – has made it easier.

“We’re all new, so we’re all learning together,” she said. “Our team is very close, so they play well together.”

Most of the players said their goal for the season is to make it past the district tournament and into the regional tournament. With all of their experience, Davis said she expects the Tigers to be near the top of the league throughout the year.

“We would like to make it to regionals,” she said. “Any success in the postseason would be good. It’s been a goal of ours for a while.”

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