Hayden coach Greg Johnson knew it was coming.
After winning in five games Saturday against Baggs, Wyo., the second-year Tigers coach felt that his young team was on the cusp of playing to its abilities.
Well, coach, Tuesday was finally that day.
Hayden used a dominating first couple of games to outlast cross-county rival Soroco, winning in four games, 25-11, 25-9, 18-25 and 25-21.
"We wanted to improve our hustle and aggressiveness," Johnson said. "We wanted to play good defense."
In the first two games, it seemed like Hayden could do no wrong.
Behind a strong service game, the Tigers took big leads in each of the first two.
In Game 1, Hayden jumped out to a 16-10 lead. From there, senior Rachael Koehler had three aces and served seven straight points to push the lead to 23-10. A Rams error and another ace, and Hayden had a 1-0 lead.
It was much the same in the second game. Soroco had trouble handling Hayden's service game and fell behind quickly.
In games 1 and 2, the Tigers served up 11 aces.
Rams coach Kim Reeves said Soroco caught itself off guard in the first two games. Without their normal setter, Reeves shifted the Rams' lineup around.
"We moved everybody every which way to fix it instead of doing the simple thing," Reeves said. "That's what made the difference between the second and third games."
That big difference was using junior varsity setter Mackenzie Carnahan.
The freshman came in and instantly provided a spark.
The Rams jumped up early in game 3 and were up 6-4 when Carnahan got the ball to serve. The freshman served up seven points, including two aces, to stake the Tigers to a 13-4 lead.
Finally, Game 4 was indicative of the rivalry.
The two teams played through five ties and four lead changes before Koehler took over. With the game tied at 20, Koehler had three kills, and Katie Parrott and Brittany Turner each had one to put the game away.
"It was a big league win," Turner said. "We definitely needed it. We have a nine-day layoff, so we're just going to go back and work hard. We don't really worry much besides getting better going into districts. We want to do good at districts, but nothing really matters but getting better until we get to districts."
Each team faces a long break before resuming play.
Soroco doesn't play again until Oct. 20 at North Park. Hayden doesn't play until Oct. 22 at North Park.
Until then, both teams will work on the basics with one eye on the district tournament.
"We have to keep our aggressiveness up," Johnson said. "We have to out-hustle teams to beat them. It's our first win streak of the year. We've always said we want to be peaking going into districts. We need to keep it up and outwork the other teams, and I think it will happen to us."