Hayden volleyball uses early leads to defeat Moffat County
HAYDEN — The Hayden Valley High School volleyball team was in need of a confidence boost Thursday night. The Tigers had lost three straight, the most recent being extremely competitive five-set losses. The girls in orange not only wanted one but deserved one.
Whether they deserved one or not, a win wasn’t going to fall into the Tigers’ lap. So, they went to work against Moffat County, winning 3-1 at home.
“It feels amazing,” said Tigers senior Aveory Lighthizer. “It’s the best thing to happen in a few days.”
When Hayden earned the first few points, they won. When the Tigers led 3-1 to start the fourth, they were feeling good.
Hayden head coach Kaitlyn Rudolph said the first few points are huge.
“It sets our whole mentality for the whole set,” she said. “It loosens them up. Then they have the momentum, they have the power, they have the drive.”
A big hit from junior Bella Svoboda made it 7-4, and an ace from junior Ema Schlim made it 10-7. The Tigers were playing fast and scrappy. A tip from junior Tessa Booco brought the advantage to 12-7, prompting a Bulldogs timeout.
Victory didn’t come easy. Moffat County was breathing down the Tigers’ necks the entire way. Hayden’s confidence ebbed and flowed with each point. One for, one against, until the Tigers led 21-15 thanks to a sneaky tip from Svoboda. Then of course, Moffat County answered 21-16, then 21-17. A long, out-of-bounds serve by the Bulldogs boosted the Tigers’ confidence again as they led 22-17, and Schlim stepped to the service line.
Once again, Moffat County earned two points in a row. If the pattern persisted, the game would not go in Hayden’s favor. Hayden head coach Kaitlyn Rudolph called a timeout.
Victory seemed imminent as the Tigers led 23-21, and Svoboda got the ball to serve. The serve was short, though, hitting the net.
Soon, Hayden led 24-23.
“The (Bulldogs) cheering section kind of got to them a little bit,” Rudolph said. “But they powered through it, and they were trying to, not shove it in their faces, but show ‘I got my serve in.’ They did really well with that pressure.”
Just as they did in the fourth, Hayden led the entire time in the first two sets. The opening set moved fast, with the Tigers finding a rhythm with ease and winning 25-18.
“We were all on the same page. We all wanted to win. We all were working together, and we all had a good game,” Lighthizer said. “We just have a really good connection.”
Every aspect of the game looked easy early on. Hayden made few mistakes, passing accurately and swinging hard. The Bulldogs looked unorganized in comparison.
Moffat County recovered in set two. Hayden led from the beginning, but the Bulldogs reduced the advantage to just one in the stretch, 23-22. The Tigers closed it out 25-22, but the Bulldogs had the momentum.
Moffat County led for the first time in set three, 2-1, pushing it to 12-6 quickly. The Tigers recovered a bit, but Moffat County won 25-20. Moffat County head coach Rebecca Sage was impressed with her team that set, since the Bulldogs have developed a habit of going down early.
“We are really good at getting down like 8-0 then coming back, and I don’t like doing that,” Sage said. “It gives me anxiety, gives them anxiety. Those first points are important. Every point is important.”
Hayden 3, Moffat County 1
MC 18 22 25 23
H 25 25 20 25
Aug. 27-28 - Rangely Tournament, 2-2
Sept. 10 - vs. Vail Mountain, W 3-2 (13-25, 25-20, 18-25, 27-25, 15-10)
Sept. 11 - at Plateau Valley, L 3-1 (19-25, 25-13, 25-21, 25-19)
Sept. 17 - at West Grand, L 3-0 (25-15, 25-20, 25-20)
Sept. 18 - at Caprock Academy, W 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 27-25)
Sept. 25 - at Meeker, L 3-0 (25-15, 25-11, 25-10)
Sept. 30 - vs. North Park (senior night), L 3-2 (25-18, 25-14, 18-25, 19-25, 15-12)
Oct. 1 - at Rangely, L 3-2 (25-13, 22-25, 25-20, 23-25, 16-14)
Oct. 7 - vs. Moffat County, W 3-1 (25-18, 25-22, 20-25, 25-23)
Oct. 9 - at Vail Christian 3 p.m.
Oct. 14 - vs. Baggs, Wyo. 6 p.m.
Oct. 15 - vs. Plateau Valley (homecoming), 6 p.m.
Oct. 16 - vs. DeBeque, 1 p.m.
Oct. 21 - at North Park, 5:30 p.m.
Oct. 23 - at Olathe, 3 p.m.
Oct. 28 - vs. Rangely, 7 p.m.
Oct. 29 - at Soroco, 6 p.m.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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