Friday, September 9, 2005
The high school volleyball season is only a week old, but on Friday night, the atmosphere inside the Soroco gym seemed more fitting for a late-October playoff game.
"We want it to be like this every night that we play," Soroco senior Kyla Schmidt said after the game. "It was tough to lose this game because we wanted it so bad, but it was a great atmosphere to play in."
It's the type of atmosphere you would expect anytime the hometown Soroco Rams host their cross-country rivals, the Hayden Tigers.
Inspired by the return of longtime volleyball coach Betsy Photos, the Rams came out with an aggressive attack that helped the home team win the first two games 25-22 and 25-19.
But Hayden didn't go away.
Down two games and locked in a back-and-fourth battle in the third game, Hayden came to life behind a strong serving performance by senior Alicia Hall.
"I'm not sure when the momentum started to swing," Hall said. "I was just concentrating on my serve."
Hall was 10 for 12 from the service line in the game with two errors and an ace, but it was her third-game run that turned the match in Hayden's favor.
The Tigers went on to win that game, 25-17, and swing the momentum away from the Rams.
"Once they picked it up, I think it caught us off guard," Soroco senior Vanessa Eaton said.
The Tigers went on to win Game 4, 25-18, and then secure the match with a 15-12 victory in the finale.
"The coaches just stayed real positive and gave these girls the confidence they needed to win," Hayden coach Becky Burdick said. "These girls are awesome, and I'm very proud of the way they played tonight."
Hayden junior Sara Sumerlin finished with 13 kills on 24 attempts. Emily Whiteman finished with 10 kills on 19 attempts, and Kylee Sweetser collected seven kills on 16 attempts. Setter Mariah Doolin finished with 83 assists in the match and three errors.
The Tigers also got a lift from junior Jacquelyn Denker, who was 10-for-12 from the service line with three aces.
On the other side of the net, Amanda Wilson had 13 kills to lead the Rams. Eaton added seven, Emily Strait had four, and Schmidt finished with three. Toni Lombardi finished with two, and Glenda Long also had a kill in the match.
Despite losing the match, the Rams players and coaches remained optimistic afterward.
"These girls have come a long way," Photos said. "Last year, they were playing not to lose, and this year, we are trying to teach them to play to win. I was disappointed for the girls tonight but not angry. They came out aggressive from the start, and that's what we want to teach them to do."
Photos expects her team (2-4) to put the loss behind them quickly and start focusing the next match against West Grand on Sept. 17.
The Tigers (3-2) play North Park today. Matches are scheduled to start with the freshmen at 1 p.m. in Hayden. The junior varsity will follow at 2 p.m., and the varsity match is scheduled for 3 p.m.