August 27, 2009
Can the Hayden High School volleyball team really be as good as last year's team is? The players showed plenty of confidence that it could in an article today. One thing the team really has going for it if it's hoping to surpass last year's 16-6 squad was a disappointing finish by that team. The 2008 Tigers were slowed by illness at the district tournament a year ago and ended up on the wrong end of a three-way tie. It was a very frustrating way to end a season with so many seniors and that stunning 9-1 start. The returning players insist they're over that crushing letdown. In fact it might now actually help the 2009 squad realize its goal to continue to rebuild the program and to surpass last year's progress. This team is certainly capable of advancing through the district tournament. It's less likely this year's team will be able to real off another 9-1 start or even a record as solid as 16-6. But with so many Tigers getting their first taste of varsity volleyball - the team returns only 4 varsity players from last year - it is likely to struggle early and come of age late, just in time for that tournament. Look for Hayden to be markedly better in October than it will be Sept. 5 in West Grand when it opens the season.
If Hayden is to make that late season push it will need some new stars. One top candidate really stood out in the hour of practice I observed on Wednesday. Senior Keisha McClintock took me by surprise. I may not be alone. A quick search of the Pilot and Today's archives reveal she's never appeared in a sports story, just the honor roll three times. McClintock isn't as tall as the Koehler sisters - Rachael and Erin, who will be vital to the team's success - but is still among the team's tallest players. Wednesday she dominated at the net. She put down several kills in the time I watched and came up with a number of big blocks. The Koehler's are both excellent on the block as well and if McClintock can play as well during the season as she did Wednesday, Hayden will have a very tough front line.