Hayden's hitters did what they were expected to do in the final 2008 home game for Tigers volleyball, but that didn't mean the Soroco Rams were going down without a fight.
"This is probably the best we've played all season. They always play their best volleyball against Hayden," Soroco coach Kim Reeves said after the match.
With the exception of a long stretch in the second game, Friday's match looked pretty much like the cross-county rivalry that players, fans and coaches have come to expect -despite the fact the two teams are on opposite sides of the standings this year. But in the end, the 12-4 Tigers defeated the Rams, 20-25, 25-18 and 25-23.
The Rams, who are 1-9 this season, came out fast Friday night and jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the early going behind the scrappy play of its starting rotation.
Soroco players Sarajane Rossi, Tatum Lombardi and Lindsay Miles simply refused to let the ball hit the floor. All three players finished the night with seven digs each.
But despite the players' performance, the highly favored Tigers came roaring back behind the solid play of Holli Salazar, Rachael Koehler and Kylee Sweetser.
Hayden rebounded to tie the game at eight and pulled away from the Rams down the stretch, thanks to some huge kills. Salazar led the team with 11 kills on the night. Rachael Koehler added nine kills and three blocks. Sweetser finished with seven kills. Rachael's sister, Erin, had three blocks.
"We are a big team, and we try to use that to our advantage," Hayden coach Greg Johnson said. "We have big hitters and big blockers, and that's definitely our strength. This is a big rivalry, and some of the girls know each other. Both sides were fired up, and it was a lot of fun tonight."
After losing the first game, the Rams had problems handling Hayden's serve in the second. The Tigers built a 19-6 lead before the Rams began to rally behind Sarajane Rossi, who finished the night with 11 kills. The Rams closed to within eight points at 23-15 before the Tigers shut the door in the second game.
"Hayden was a good team tonight, but I think we fell apart. It was the little tiny points that we couldn't control. A few missed serves or a shanked pass."
The Rams led most of the third game and held a 19-15 lead at one point, before the Hayden veteran players buckled down.
"We talked about winning in three and staying positive no matter what," Sweetser said after the game. "I think that was big in that third game. Those are big nail-biter games. They are fun, but you obviously want to be on top of that."
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