Hayden surges by West Grand, makes it a winning streak | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden surges by West Grand, makes it a winning streak

— The Hayden and West Grand high school volleyball teams played four games in Thursday night's match, but the moment that decided it all may have come long before that final game and the night's final point.

Hayden, downed in the first game, took a huge lead in the second game, 20-10, but played some of its worst volleyball during the next eight points as West Grand clawed back. The Mustangs pulled within two, 20-18, but got no closer.

The Tigers stomped out the rally, then stomped on West Grand, rolling to a big win, 20-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-12.

"We decided to pick up the pace and we really played at our level, not their level," Hayden coach Christine Planansky said. "By stopping that rally, it let the girls know we can overcome our own mistakes. That whole big long rally, that was our mistakes. That was us. During the timeout, I reminded them, we're giving it to them, and it's time to turn it around."

Turn it around, they did.

Hayden, two points from a tie midway through the second game, didn't give up another point in that game, tying the match at one game apiece. The team maintained a steady lead throughout the third game, then was at its best in the fourth, where it got up 22-11 and never let up.

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"I knew we would push through," senior Olivia Zehner said, considering the early match troubles. "I trust my team. I love these girls. I know how talented each and every one of them are, and I know nothing can stop us."

At its best, Hayden simply was efficient. It had power, most often in the form of junior Jordan Temple's crushing kill attempts. But it also had brains. Players such as senior Becca Hoza and freshman Grace Wilkie don't necessarily cut an imposing figure on the volleyball court, but they didn't try to compensate by over-swinging. Instead, they picked their spots, directing their hits as much around the defense as through it.

It added up to big points Thursday.

"We've really been focusing on using our heads," Planansky said. "We are not a big team. We have some hard hitters, but when we go up against the larger teams, we'll have to be able to use our heads, and that's what we are preparing for."

The win bumped Hayden to 3-2 on the season and gave it something it hasn't enjoyed since midway through last season's 4-18 campaign: a winning streak. Now the team is focused on extending that streak. The Tigers haven't won three straight since the first week of October 2011.

"No one has yet to see our level of play," Planansky said. "I'm very excited. I can't wait until everyone gets to see what we can really do. It's going to be good. It's going to be epic."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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