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SPOTLIGHT
Hays High needs to wins at 5A sub-state

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Hays High needs to wins at 5A sub-state

Published on -10/19/2012, 10:26 AM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

Hays High School senior Millie Copper knows her team is the underdog entering the Class 5A sub-state volleyball tournament in Newton, but at the same time, she also knows all it takes is two upsets to get to state.

The Indians (10-25) will face Newton in the first-round match at 2 p.m. Saturday on the Railers' home court. If Hays High is able to get a victory against Newton (31-9), the Indians will face the winner of Liberal (27-9) and Great Bend (17-17) -- two teams the Indians played close in their league tournament.

"If we get past the first round, we have either Liberal or Great Bend, which we've seen twice this season, and they are both very beatable teams," Copper said. "If we can get past the first round, then it will be a lot easier."

Hays High coach Christin Nunnery described the match up with Newton as a David-Goliath pairing. Newton was receiving votes in the most recent Kansas Volleyball Association poll, while Hays High has registered only one win against a school larger than Class 4A.

"You always know underdogs can take it," Nunnery said. "It's just a matter if they believe themselves. That's what we are working on now."

Hays High faced Newton earlier in the year and the Indians were trounced in two sets (25-11, 25-12).

"We were playing with them, and then a girl served 11 straight on us," Nunnery said. "After that, (Hays High) just kind of stopped."

Nunnery said the challenge is to prepare her girls not only for the stiff volleyball competition but also the mental rigors.

Copper said the key is mental toughness.

"I think going in there that we have nothing to lose," Copper said. "We are just going to give it all we have."

Hays High has some momentum heading into the sub-state tournament. The Indians only picked up one win -- a three setter against Class 6A Dodge City (25-27, 25-7, 25-13) -- but they played all of their matches close, which was an improvement from when they faced them earlier in the season.

"We went down to WAC last weekend and contended with teams that blew us out the first time we played them," Nunnery said. "Even just seeing that improvement has the girls saying, 'Oh, we've only got to win two to get to state.' "

Nunnery hopes that improvement will be enough for Newton.

"We are definitely the underdogs, but we are ready to work," Copper said.

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