The Hayden volleyball team didn't defeat Meeker on Friday, but Tigers coach Becky Burdick was elated with the way the Tigers played.
"My girls played so well, they really did," she said.
Baggs, Wyo., defeated Hayden, 25-19, 26-24, 25-20
Meeker def--eated Hay--den, 25-19, 25-16, 25-16, but the Cowboys are one of the Western Slope League's top teams during a year in which the league clearly has improved from top to bottom.
"I think it is pretty balanced," Burdick said about the league's parity.
The Tigers (6-8 overall, 2-4 in the league) won't win a league title this season, but if they continue to improve as the end of the season draws near, anything can happen in the district tournament Oct. 28 and 29 in Paonia.
That is what Hayden is counting on. Burdick has inserted several players this season and continues to get impressive play from all of them.
The latest are junior Katie Koehler and freshman Holli Salazar. Koehler has played in spurts this season, but she had five kills against Meeker, which was good for second on the team. Salazar played her first varsity game and came up with one kill.
"She's usually a middle (blocker), but I put her on the outside," Burdick said.
Seniors Sara Sumerlin and Mariah Doolin led the way for Hayden with six kills. Burdick tried something different against Meeker and had junior Jess Martin set for Doolin -- the starting setter -- to take advantage of Doolin's ability to attack from the front.
Junior Emily Whiteman had three kills against Meeker, and freshman Kylee Sweetser had two kills and another great performance from the service line.
"She got us 10 points on serving," Burdick said.
Up next for Hayden is a 6 p.m. match against North Park on Thursday in Walden. The Tigers defeated the Wildcats earlier this season, but it was in a nonleague match. The match Thursday will count in the league standings. The Tigers then travel to Grand Valley for a 6 p.m. match Friday in Parachute.
Hayden hosts Soroco at 6 p.m. Tuesday in a league match. The Tigers already defeated the Rams once this year.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail email@example.com