Hayden volleyball drops 2nd in a row

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— After a blazing start to the season, the Hayden High School volleyball team will have to see how it responds to something a little different.

With Saturday's 25-16, 25-23, 23-25, 25-20 loss to Meeker, Hayden now has lost two matches in a row for the first time all year.

Hayden lost to Paonia in five games on Friday.

Although Meeker and Paonia arguably are the two best teams in the district, Hayden coach Greg Johnson said the losses were more of a result of how the Tigers played.

"Mentally, the last two games, I feel like we're not thinking on the court," Johnson said. "We're just kind of going out there and panicking when the ball comes to us. It's just a lot of little things that shouldn't be happening."

Against Meeker, Hayden could never get any type of prolonged attack going. The Tigers fell behind early in the first two games and couldn't recover.

In the third game, it looked like Hayden might get its groove back.

After trailing by as much as 21-17, the Tigers staged a comeback behind five late kills by senior Holli Salazar.

That momentum initially carried over into the fourth game, when Hayden jumped out to a 17-13 lead thanks to the service of Calla Manzanares.

But slowly, Meeker worked itself back in the game. The Cowboys tied the game at 17 before pulling away for the win.

"I think we can bounce back," Johnson said. "We took Paonia to five and didn't play well. (Saturday) we went to four, and it was close games. Passing and mental errors are just what's killing us."

With the season about two-thirds done, Johnson said it should be telling how his team reacts in its final six matches.

Hayden (9-3 overall, 4-2 in district play) next plays a makeup match at 5:30 p.m. Monday, at home against DeBeque. The Tigers then finish the season with five consecutive district contests that will set them up for seeding heading into the district tournament.

"We'll see Monday against DeBeque. I'm not sure. It's the first time it's happened," Johnson said of the two losses. "If they come back fired up, we'll be fine. If they come back worried about the last game, we'll be in trouble."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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