The Hayden and Soroco volleyball teams lost their final regular-season matches. But both teams forced their matches to four games last week, which bodes well for either team heading into district tournament play Friday.
West Grand defeated Hayden in four tough games, 23-25, 25-22, 30-28, 25-21. Rangely defeated Soroco, 25-12, 17-25, 25-18, 25-16.
The District 5 tournament opens Friday in Rangely with pool play. Hayden is the No. 6 seed, and Soroco is the No.7 seed, so both will be in the same pool. The top two teams in each of the two pools advance to bracket play. The top two teams from the district tournament advance to regionals.
Rangely (No. 2) and Grand Valley (No. 3) are the other teams in Hayden and Soroco's pool.
Meeker (No. 1), West Grand (No. 4), Paonia (No. 5) and Plateau Valley (No. 8) are in the other pool.
North Park's move from Class 2A to Class 1A this season prevented District 5 from having a pigtail match to fill the eight-team field. The Wildcats, however, did win the Western Slope League.
"I really think we will do well," Tigers coach Becky 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."
Soroco also got a boost by winning one game against Rangely on Friday.
"We played with focus and believed in ourselves," Rams coach Valerie Remick said. "It was great. I had three seniors -- Kalvert Shiner, Kimberlie Williamson and Coty Bruggink -- that really stepped it up and played the best games I've seen all year."
Few teams play error-free volleyball, but the key for the Tigers and Rams this weekend will be to avoid making strings of mistakes that allow the opposition to go on five- or six-point runs.
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, its opponent also gains a point. It's hard to recover from deficits in rally scoring.
Soroco opens pool play against Rangely at 3 p.m. Friday at Rangely High School. Hayden opens against Grand Valley at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Soroco will play Grand Valley at 7:30 p.m. Friday, as well. Hayden's second match is against Rangely at 6 p.m. Friday.
Hayden and Soroco will meet at 10:30 a.m. Saturday to wrap up pool play.
Should Hayden or Soroco finish in the top two in their pool, they will advance to single-elimination bracket play, against the top two teams in the other pool. Meeker and Rangely are the favorites to advance based on regular season results, but Burdick is optimistic about her team's chances.
"The girls are a great team," she said. "If they keep it together through this whole thing, we got it."
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org