The Hayden volleyball team lost its final regular season match to West Grand, but the level of play coach Becky Burdick saw from the Tigers has her optimistic heading into the postseason.
West Grand defeated Hayden in four tough games, 23-25, 25-22, 30-28, 25-21, on Friday, but the energy Hayden had in its most recent matches against Soroco and West Grand should give the Tigers some confidence for districts.
The Western Slope District Tournament opens Friday in Rangely with pool play. The top two teams from the eight-team field advance to regionals.
"I really think we will do well," Burdick said. "They've got to want to win. We were actually leading in a few of those games against West Grand. It was the little errors, like not getting a serve over or covering a tip. They didn't play bad at all. They played great."
Mistakes are magnified in the rally-scoring format that was implemented last season. In rally scoring, a point is awarded to a team, whether it has the serve. For example, if a team misses a serve, it not only loses the serve but a point.
Few teams play error-free volleyball, but the key for the Tigers is avoiding stringing mistakes together that allow the opposition to go on five- or six-point runs. It's hard to recover from deficits in rally scoring.
Hayden opens against Grand Valley at 4:30 p.m. Friday in Rangely. Rangely and Soroco are in Hayden's pool. Meeker and Rangely are the favorites to emerge from district play based on regular season records.
But the regular season means little now.
"The girls are a great team," Burdick said. "If they keep it together through this whole thing, we got it."
Pool play is Friday and Saturday morning, with the top two teams in either of the pools advancing to bracket play.