It would have been easy for the Hays High School volleyball team to throw in the towel.

The Indians trailed 17-10 in the third set Thursday against Ulysses in their final match of their home opener at the HHS gym.

And to make matters worse, sophomore Macee Altman had just left the floor with an apparent ankle injury.

Then three more points by Ulysses left Hays High trailing 20-10.

“We know where we’re supposed to be when a lot of the balls are dropping,” said HHS coach Christin Nunnery. “So if we were lazy and not moving when they were hitting the ball, we were missing them. But if we were where we should have been, we would have picked some of those up. And just not bringing energy. When the girls play with fun and are loud, we’re going to be a hard team to stop. But when we’re quiet, we don’t do much.”

Apparently, the deficit was just what the Indians needed to spark a rally. Hays High bullied its way back into the match with strong play at the net, pulling off a 25-21 win to take the match. The Indians, ranked 10th in this week’s Kansas Volleyball Association Class 4A Division I poll, won the first game 25-23 before dropping the second, 25-19.

“We weren’t there mentally,” Nunnery said. “We kind of slacked off. … We suffered in the second set against Ulysses, but then the third set we’re behind and had to battle back and had people step up. That was exciting to see.”

The Indians finished the quadrangular 2-1 to improve to 7-2 this year. Hays High lost to Class 6A Garden City in the opener, 25-18, 26-24, before beating Pratt 25-15, 25-19. The Greenbacks are ranked eighth in Class 4A Division II this week, while Ulysses was at No 6 in 4ADI.

“I’m happy because when we had someone go down who got hurt, we kind of had to shift and adjust,” Nunnery said. “We were down 17-10 at that time, and the girls battled back in that third set. We had players step up and do stuff we hadn’t seen yet. We had to move Jaysa (Wichers) to the middle, had to have Hannah McGuire block the right side. They made some plays, and that kind of sparked our energy and helped us finish the set out.”

Junior Jaycee Dale led the Indians against Garden City. She finished with six kills and six assisted blocks, while junior Kallie Leiker had 12 digs.

Sophomore Tasiah Nunnery and junior Hannah McGuire each had six assists.

In the win against Pratt, junior Savannah Schneider and Nunnery each had seven kills, and McGuire had 11 assists. Leiker had 18 digs, and Altman and Nunnery each had six assisted blocks.

The Indians got strong front-line play by Dale, Schneider and Nunnery against Ulysses. Each finished with six kills. McGuire tallied 15 assists, while Leiker had 24 digs. Junior Jaysa Wichers had 10 assisted blocks and three solo blocks.

The HHS coach said she was pleased with the way the team played against some of its toughest competition this fall.

She also was pleased with the maturity the team has shown this year after several younger players got varsity experience a year ago.

“When you walk away knowing a little bit of experience is helping you, that was today,” Nunnery said. “Kind of happened last weekend in Dodge, too. Some of those games we would have lost had we not had experience. But these girls are fighters. They’re competitive and don’t want to lose. When they see the score, they’re going to keep fighting until the whistle is done.”

Hays High will be at the Holcomb Invitational at Ulysses on Sept. 23.