Soroco squad conquers Hayden in five

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— The girls on Soroco High School's volleyball team seem to have conquered the confidence issues that plagued them in the past. A win against 2006 District 5 champ Rangely, last week in Grand Valley, was the tipping point.

"That was the mountain they needed to get over, knowing that they can win," Soroco head coach Kim Reeves said.

Now over the proverbial mountain, all Soroco needed was the monkey off its back - namely, the pair of stinging losses last year to cross-county rival Hayden.

The teams opened up district play against one another, Friday night in Oak Creek.

Hayden had the momentum after a game-three victory, but Soroco reclaimed its home court and closed out the victory in a five-game thriller, 18-25, 25-18, 22-25, 25-20, 15-10.

The net proved to be just as formidable an opponent as the opposition's front blockers in the first two games for both teams, as Rams and Tigers both had scoring rallies deflated by numerous serving and hitting errors.

The early season cerebral mistakes were not due to a lack of intensity fueled by a raucous student crowd. And by game three, Hayden started landing its hits. In a game that featured 10 tied scores, Kylee Sweetser and Holli Salazar combined for seven kills to lift the Tigers ahead two games. Salazar led the Tigers with 14 kills and 18 solo blocks, and Sweetser finished with 11 kills.

But in game four, the Rams pulled out of a tight 17-17 tie with back-to-back kills from Glenda Long and Sarajane Rossi, along with steady serves from Kelsey Samuelson. Long and Rossi both finished with eight kills.

"That was exhilarating - I knew we could get them after that," Soroco's Amanda Wilson said of the lead her team held to advance to the deciding fifth game.

Wilson, who lead the Rams with 14 kills, set the tone in the fifth game by notching three immediate blocks and two kills to establish a six-point cushion. A string of Hayden hitting errors widened the gap to 14-5. Hayden sophomore Rachael Koehler looked to muster a final rally with three consecutive kills, but the Tigers run ended on a net error.

"That was a great volleyball match," said Hayden coach Stephanie Davis, exasperated from the match's twists of fortune. "This is the first time I felt like our kids really played well as a team. My hat is off to Soroco - just a scrappy and together team."

Hayden's match scheduled for today with West Grand is canceled. They face Rangely at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Hayden. Soroco plays its next match at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Vail Christian.

- To reach Dave Shively, call 871-4253

or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com

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