There might not be a lot of teams that can stop the Hays High School volleyball team this season.
But the team that poses the biggest issue for the Indians just might be itself.
That’s been the case in Hays High’s few losses this season, as the Indians have struggled with unforced errors in different aspects of the game.
Case in point: Monday’s quadrangular at the HHS gym.
The Indians, coming off a 5-0 showing at Great Bend on Saturday, went 2-1 Monday — losing only to Colby in a game where HHS didn’t play up to its standards.
“We are a very good team that’s tough to beat, but we give away a lot of points,” said HHS coach Christin Nunnery. “That’s probably the most frustrating thing to see because we are such a talent group of girls, then to see them hit three or four out of bounds or serving problems or setting into a block. It’s just one of those things. Yes, we’re young, but by now this stuff should be fixed.”
Despite a few lapses here and there this year, the Indians improved to 19-6 and have won eight of their last nine matches after Monday. The Indians ran their win streak to seven after a 25-21, 25-23 victory against a scrappy Phillipsburg squad before falling 26-24, 26-24 to Colby. Hays High ended the day with a 25-14, 25-18 win against Liberal.
“It’s the hard part of the season, but we’re winning on OK volleyball,” Nunnery said. “I’m just waiting for that day when we’re all playing together, because that’s going to be a fun day to watch.”
The Indians rallied to knock off the Panthers in the opener. Hays High trailed most of the first game before breaking open a 20-20 tie with a kill by junior Savannah Schneider.
It was the start of four straight points by Hays High that included a kill by junior Jaycee Dale and a block by Dale and junior Madyson Flax en route to the four-point win.
Sophomore Tasiah Nunnery fueled the Indians in the second game, getting a kill to make it 21-19 to give the Indians some distance. She finished with 10 kills, 11 assists and seven digs, and junior Hannah McGuire tallied 11 assists and a pair of aces.
Dale had four assisted blocks, and Schneider had three solo blocks.
Hays High led Colby 11-7 in the first game before the Eagles stormed back. After being tied at 24, Colby scored the final two points on a return error by the Indians and a kill.
The Indians responded with a 7-0 spurt to start the second game, only to see Colby rally again. The two teams were tied at 24 before a pair of kills by the Eagles gave them the match.
“When we were sitting on the bench, about seven of them said they wanted to play them again,” the HHS coach said. “They know they didn’t play to the best of their ability. We’re walking away today 19-6, which is a really good record compared to what we had last season. As much as today was kind of a letdown for them, I’m super proud they’re 19-6, and they have a lot of volleyball left.”
Nunnery and Schneider each had six kills against Colby, and Nunnery and McGuire each had eight assists. Dale chipped in six kills and four assisted blocks, and freshman Brooklyn Schaffer had 14 digs.
“It’s one of the things I’ve tried to tell them,” Nunnery said. “They’re going to make mistakes. That’s OK. But what happens the next possession? Can you snap out of it or not. Tonight, there were three or four of five in a row where one person would make three or four errors, and they have to find a way to get out of that. Volleyball is a very big mental game, and I don’t feel like we were mentally tough today.”
The Indians had no trouble in the first game against Liberal, then started the second one with a 19-5 lead. The Redskins tried to rally before HHS put the game away.
The HHS coach said she knew the players were a bit disappointed in the effort Monday.
“That’s what we talked about. I asked them how many of them thought they played really good volleyball,” Nunnery said. “I don’t think anybody raised their hand because they are just getting by playing OK. We can scrimmage every day in practice, and we can put away our teams that we’re scrimmaging. But we don’t see that when we come into a game day. That’s what we really have to focus on and carry over.”
Nunnery had five kills and seven assists, and sophomore Macee Altman had six assisted blocks. Schaffer and junior Kallie Leiker each had eight digs.
Monday’s quadrangular marked the 11th match in four days, a stretch where the Indians have went 9-2.
“They’ve got a lot of tired muscles and that sort of stuff,” the coach said. “That’s kind of the scenario of our schedule — play 13 games in eight days and 14 in three-and-a-half, four weeks. It’s just something that I probably should have had them better prepared physically for, but today we did let up in the Colby game, and it was hard to watch.”
There will be little time to rest for Hays High as they play at Larned on Thursday.