Steamboat Springs Senior Rachael Koehler hopes the members of the Hayden High School volleyball team pick up a new nickname this week when they travel to Meeker for the district volleyball tournament.
"We want to be the comeback kids," Koehler said. "We've been working really hard, and we feel like we can upset some teams at the district tournament."
The Tigers took the first steps to earning that nickname Tuesday night by beating Plateau Valley in three games.
They needed the win to get into the district tournament.
In the first game, the Tigers erased a nine-point deficit en route to a momentum-changing 28-26 victory.
A big spike at the end of the match by Koehler seemed to give the Tigers a newfound confidence as they took control of the match in the next two games.
"I thought the turning point of the match was when we made the comeback," Koehler said. "Our attitude got better, and we just started playing harder." Solid passing and good defense helped the Tigers roll to a 25-16 win in game two, and then Hayden put the match away with a 25-13 win in the third game.
"We played really nervous and tight to begin with, and I think that hurt us," coach Greg Johnson said. "We got a few big hits, and once we relaxed a little bit, I knew that we would do some good things on the court and that we had a very good chance of winning."
Koehler's 17 kills, along with six from teammate Ashlee Doolin, had the Cowboys on the defensive for most of the night. Johnson said the powerful offensive push was the result of good passing and defense from Calla Manzanares, Jarah Woodley and Brittany Turner.
Junior Delanie VeDepo also sparked the team with three aces in the match.
"We just hustled and worked hard," Woodley said. "Everything worked for us - our passes were there, our sets were there and we got our kills. That's what won us the game."
Woodley said the team has been playing at a different level, and she thinks that will make an impact when the team advances to the next round of the playoffs Friday in Meeker.
"It is all on the line for us," Woodley said. "We wanted to go to districts, we want to win at districts, and we want to compete. We want to upset all the teams that beat us earlier. We have a 'let's go out and do it' attitude right now, and we don't mind being the underdog."