Becky Burdick isn't comfortable yelling.
Sometimes, the Hayden volleyball team doesn't even meet after matches, but Tuesday, the Tigers volleyball coach sat the team in a circle after a three-game loss to West Grand for a talk.
"She said she doesn't know how to help us with our confidence," senior Mariah Doolin said.
Less than a month ago, Hayden was 5-2 and unbeaten in Western Slope League play. Since the easy defeat of Coal Ridge on Sept. 13, the Tigers (5-6 overall, 2-2 in league) have lost four straight matches, including Tuesday's 25-14, 25-22, 25-18 setback to the Mustangs.
Burdick pinpointed several things Hayden isn't doing now that it was doing during the impressive start.
"Talking, communicating," she said. "And our passing. We get on the floor and I don't know. We are great in practice."
Communicating is easy to fix, and the serve receive and passing should return, but there is only so much Burdick can say before the Hayden players have to assume some responsibility.
"Our intensity is like a wave," Doolin said.
And in volleyball, where the relatively new rally scoring system magnifies mistakes, there is little room to lose focus. In rally scoring, a team doesn't have to serve to win a point.
"They have to figure it out," Burdick said.
In the first and third games Tuesday, the Tigers surrendered two long West Grand scoring streaks, creating insurmountable deficits.
In the first game, the Must--angs' Amy Nicol served six-straight points, giving her team a 19-9 lead. In the third game, the teams were even until Shannon Clark served six-straight points to give West Grand a 17-10 cushion.
The second game, however, was a toss up.
Hayden overcame a 13-7 deficit to tie things up at 19 on a Doolin ace. During the mini-Tigers rally, they got two kills from senior Sara Sumerlin, who led all Hayden attackers with five. They also got a kill from freshman Kylee Sweetser. The teams were tied at 22 before West Grand pulled away for the 3-point win.
The Mustangs were playing without middle blocker Melinda Ellison, but that didn't slow down the West Grand offense. Still, coach Laura Gore said her team will have to improve its play as the season progresses.
"We didn't hit as well as we would have liked," Gore said.
Up next for Hayden is a match at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Plateau Valley. The Hayden schedule had Tuesday's match as non-league, which would benefit the Tigers, but Gore thought it was a league match. She said the schools would have to contact the district to figure out it out.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org