HHS goes 1-2 at home
Published on -9/28/2012, 9:12 AM
By CONOR NICHOLL
Hays High School volleyball coach Christin Nunnery and senior Millie Copper were happy with how the Indians performed in their home quadrangular. Hays High defeated Norton and played state powers Abilene and Salina South close. However, HHS lost to Abilene, 25-12, 25-23 and fell to South, 26-24, 25-22.
"We stepped up and played much better today than we have played in the past week," Nunnery said. "I feel like eventually we are going to get those close games. It's just a matter of getting mentally tougher. That's what we just talked about (in the locker room). We have got to get mentally tough to pull through games like that."
On the other hand, Norton lost close matches, too, but coach Kevin Jilka was frustrated in his team's performance. The Bluejays lost 25-11, 25-19 to Hays High, fell 25-14, 25-14 to Abilene and dropped their final match, 25-16, 25-20, to South.
Against South, Norton led 19-15 in the second set. Norton fell to 4-14, while Hays High dropped to 8-13.
"We just can't finish games," Jilka said. "We played a lot of people close just like tonight against Salina South and Hays High. We played them close, but we just can't seal the deal, and we just make dumb mistakes when it comes crunch time and the only way to cure that is to win, and right now we can't do that."
Against Norton, Copper had six kills and senior Shea Briggs tacked on five. Freshman libero Albany Schaffer continued a strong season with 28 digs in the three matches (six sets), including nine versus Norton.
"I watched her play last year as an eighth grader, and I was amazed at the balls she gets to that I have not seen other people get to," Nunnery said. "She has not disappointed in that area. She gets to balls that nobody picks up and you think it's down, and she comes out of nowhere, and that ball is up, and we are playing it."
After the victory, Hays High wasn't competitive in the first set with Abilene. In the second set, the Indians collected 19 digs, five more than they had in the first set. HHS had just one service error in the second set; the Indians had six in the first set.
"The seniors realized that it was their last game in their home court with Abilene," Nunnery said. "... If they didn't win, they at least wanted to compete with them and make it a battle."
Helped by a big play from Schaffer, Hays High tied the second set at 16. On one play, the ball ricocheted off the ceiling support. Schaffer was running to her left, reversed course and dug the ball. Hays High led 20-19, but the Cowgirls closed on a 6-3 run. An Indian attack error and service error helped Abilene take the lead. As well, HHS had to again play without sophomore Hannah Hearld, who suffered an ankle injury last week.
"It really is being mentally tough right now," Nunnery said. "I go back to 'If you make a mistake, what are you going to do the next time? How are you going to mentally prepare yourself for when you get the ball, what are you going to do?' "
"I feel like sometimes our girls are scared to have the ball, scared to get a set because they don't want to make a mistake, but it's OK to, but we've just to capitalize after we make a mistake and not do it again," she added.
Before the South match, the six Indian seniors were honored on the court. Copper, Briggs and senior Mikayla Linn have started on varsity for several years. Copper started crying during the ceremony.
"I told them not to cry because I didn't want to cry," Nunnery said. "All of our seniors work hard."
"The most emotional part for me was knowing that it was my last game here ever for these girls, and the team is amazing," Copper said.
In the first set, Hays High fought back from a 24-21 deficit to tie it at 24. Indian junior Taylor Adams appeared to have a kill down the line. At first, the officials gave HHS the point. After a conference, the officials changed the call. Down 25-24, Copper had an attack error on the next point, and Hays High dropped the set.
"The line judge called a touch, and then the down ref did not see a touch, so after they talked, they decided that there was no touch, and they overruled it, and gave the point to Salina," Nunnery said. "Very hard, because I felt like that should have been a replay, because your line judge is there for that reason, but we should have battled. We should have not let them win the point as easily as we did."
In the second set, Briggs contributed three of her team-high seven kills, but Hays High never led after 8-7. The Indians cut a five-point deficit down to 21-20, but couldn't take the lead.
"We played hard," Copper said. "Tonight didn't turn out the way that we wanted to, but overall, I can walk off saying that I was proud."
For Norton, though, the day continued a frustrating season. The Bluejays start all juniors and seniors, but have had trouble closing out matches. Norton ended the day in a tough fashion with the loss to South. Up 19-15, the Bluejays allowed five straight points. A mental error and an attack error made the score 23-20 and then South closed out the match with two kills from senior Emily Webb.
"Our kids have hung in there," Jilka said. "They have played hard and I can't fault their effort. We just find ways to lose games. Just wish we could overcome that, but we just have to keep trying."