Tigers go winless at Best of the West

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— Solid serving and passing were the two key ingredients missing from the Hayden Tigers' play during Moffat County's Best of the West volleyball tournament.

The Tigers, who only returned one starter, opened their season 0-4, dropping all of their matches at Saturday's tournament.

Though the team has been working on a new offensive and defensive setup, coach Kipp Rillos said it was the basics that hurt the team.

"We had no problem with the [lineup], we were only out of rotation once," Rillos said. "The main problem is the fundamentals, serving and passing primarily."

One of the Tigers' most anticipated matches in the tournament came in the third round against league foe West Grand. The Mustangs decisively defeated the Tigers 15-1, 15-6.

At the start of the second game, the Tigers fought back to a 5-1 lead.

With its girls serving well and the Tigers hitters making key plays, the team looked like it was ready for a comeback.

Setter Brittany Doolin said the Tigers had watched West Grand play in earlier games and found holes the Mustangs weren't covering. Hitter Kristen Brown found some of those holes making four kills for the match.

But, the Mustangs regained the ball and served up six consecutive points to stop the Tigers' offense.

"Once they started serving all those points, we just fell apart," Doolin said.

But, Rillos said the girls did improve in the West Grand matchup from their earlier losses to Hotchkiss (15-2, 15-9) and Battle Mountain (15-4, 15-3).

"They did a couple of things better," he said. "We put some serves together and got some first serves in."

The Tigers will get another chance at the Mustangs this Friday at Hayden. A traditional powerhouse in the league, West Grand graduated most of its star power including twin sisters Jessica and Shonda Brown.

After troubles with serving and passing, the girls will be working on their offense to prepare for the match.

"We really want to work on serving," Kristen Brown said. "If we can't serve, we can't score."

Part of the Tigers' problem is their lack of experience coming into the season opener, Rillos said. Brown is the team's only return starter and many of this year's starters never saw varsity time until Saturday.

Doolin said that Saturday's play was not typical of the team.

"Our serving has improved a lot, but we are not where we should be," she said.

Hayden finished the tournament with a loss to Moffat County, which beat the Tigers 15-2, 15-6, in the first round of the consolation bracket.

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