Published on -9/21/2012, 10:26 AM
By NICK McQUEEN
Fifteen matches into its season, the Hays High School volleyball team is starting to find out what works -- and what doesn't.
It's a process that has seen some ups and downs for the Indians, but one first-year head coach Christin Nunnery said will pay dividends toward the end of the season.
"We're still trying to find a rotation that has great chemistry," said Nunnery, who took over head coaching duties two weeks prior to the start of the season. "We have certain rotations where we're pretty much unstoppable, and than we'll get to a rotation where we struggle."
That theme was on display Thursday in the Indians' home triangular at the HHS gym. The Indians finished 1-1 on the day, defeating Nickerson in two sets, 25-13, 25-21, and falling to Hoisington in two, 25-10, 25-18.
"That first game against Hoisington, we came out very sluggish," Nunnery said. "But, in the second game, we stepped it up and played pretty darn good -- not completely up to our ability, but pretty happy with that second game."
The Indians were without one of their leading blockers in sophomore Hannah Hearld, who sprained her ankle during Monday's practice. Junior Taylor Adams moved up from the junior varsity to fill in Thursday.
"She filled a pretty big position tonight, and did a great job," Nunnery said. "Hannah, that's a huge loss on the right side -- that's a big blocker."
In the win against Nickerson, Hays High (7-8) used a 12-1 run to take a commanding lead in the first set. Freshman Madison Prough capped the run with an ace to put Hays High up 21-8.
Then in Game 2, the Indians opened with a 10-4 run and never trailed, or gave up more than a 3-score rally.
The match against Hoisington (two losses on the season) was a different story. Hays High fell down 10-4 in the first set and gave up two long rallies before falling, 25-10.
The Indians fell down 7-1 in the first set before they started becoming more vocal, Nunnery said.
"We have a couple that will step up and take the reins," Nunnery said. "When they do it, we won't lose. We have to get them to do it more consistently.
"Everyone makes mistakes, but it's how you come through after the mistake," she added. "If we can get them to keep their heads up, we can be contending by the end of the season."
Despite trailing early, Hays High rallied to cut the lead to three at 19-16, and 21-18, but never drew closer.
"If we just play together, and talk on the floor, we're going to compete," Nunnery said. "It's when we go in and shut down and don't say a lot is when we are going to see our biggest battle.
"Our battle is more with ourselves than with other teams."
Seniors Millie Copper and Mikayla Linn each had seven kills for the day. Linn had four against Nickerson and three against Hoisington, while Copper had five against Nickerson.
Hays High is on the road Saturday in the Newton Invitational.