Hayden looks strong against No. 1 Meeker

Hayden High School junior Jillian Bennett aims for the ball during the senior game against Meeker on Saturday afternoon.

HAYDEN — The Hayden High School volleyball team seemed to surprise Meeker in Saturday’s contest. The 2-5 Tigers kept every set close against the 8-0 Cowboys, who have six 3-0 sweeps to their name.

Meeker ended up taking the 3-1 victory, but Hayden gave the Cowboys just their fourth set loss of the entire season.

“Taking a set from Meeker was our goal,” junior Jillian Bennett said. “That was our goal from the start of the game. We wanted to take at least a set from them, and we knew we could based on how we played No. 7 Vail Mountain. … There are just sometimes when we don’t click, but when we do, we play well. We play beyond well, and I think, next year, if we can play like that, we can be a top competitor in the league.”

As they should — the seniors shone. Leah Carrouth found her groove in the third, using a kill and a block to give her team a 4-3 lead. With Carrouth serving, that lead grew to 6-3.

Gracie Day was confident as setter, using her athletic ability to ensure she got the second touch during every possession.

Lee Anna Nelson was steady on every inch of the floor, backing up the front line by keeping Cowboys tips off the floor and controlling serve receives from the back row.

“I think we did awesome,” Nelson said. “I couldn’t ask for better classmates, a better team. They were all amazing.”

Hayden High School senior Gracie Day tips the ball over the net while senior Leah Carrouth looks for a Meeker retaliation during the senior game Saturday afternoon.

“I’m so proud of them,” Bennett added. “I couldn’t ask for better seniors this year. They’re positivity is so immense. Their great teammates.”

When Meeker turned a 7-7 tie into a 10-7 lead, Hayden head coach Lexi Cyphers called time out. Hayden returned to the floor and scored the next six points. Bennett used a crafty tip to tie the game at 10, and two hits into the net by Meeker pushed the lead to 13-10.

Meeker came back, but two out of bounds hits tied the set at 19. A well-aimed hit from Bennett gave Hayden a 20-19 lead.

The Hayden High School volleyball team celebrates a point during the senior game against Meeker on Saturday afternoon.

Not used to trailing, the Cowboys committed errors that led to their undoing. As a Meeker player bobbled the ball and hit it twice, Hayden won 25-23.

“We just let it all go, and we just played,” Nelson said. “We just played as a team, and it all went well.”

The first set was the most competitive. The Tigers found holes in the mighty Meeker offense, trailing by two or three the whole way. A few errors allowed Meeker to peel away to a 25-19 victory.

The first three sets featured a tie at seven, but that was usually where Meeker started to pull away. In the second set, the Cowboys scored four straight to take an 11-7 lead, an advantage they’d hold all the way to a 25-16 win.

In the fourth, Hayden felt the wrath of the No. 3 Cowboys, losing 25-16.

Meeker 3, Hayden 1

M 25 25 23 25 – 4

H 19 16 25 16 – 1

Friday, April 16

Rangely 3, Hayden 1

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