by JASON GORDON
Against a LaGrange team that had beaten Hays in two straight season openers, Sydney Paradeaux hammered home 41 kills and added 20 digs to lead the Lady Rebs to a 25-17, 25-27, 25-17, 21-25, 15-4 five-set victory.
Also against LaGrange, sophomore setter Kathryn Wristen had 55 assists in her first start on varsity, and Dezaray Garner was a stellar part of the Lady Rebel defensive attack, with 20 digs.
“Sydney came out and played like the leader we want her to be in our first match,” Hays head coach Erica Walther said. “It’s also great when you see the girls battle for a five-set win early on and show you the kind of team chemistry we’re capable of.”
Hays advanced to the gold bracket in the Northside ISD Tournament before losing 25-21, 25-7 to Boerne Champion, a squad that will be a new District 27-4A foe for the Lady Rebs this season. Boerne Champion’s win gave them a slight measure of revenge on Hays, as the Lady Rebels knocked Champion out of the playoffs in the bi-district round last season.
Hays fell to the consolation bracket, where they defeated San Antonio Warren in a tough-fought two-set match, 25-19, 26-24.
Natalie Valdez had 14 kills to lead Hays, and defensive specialist Madison McCauley added nine digs against Warren.
In the consolation finals, Hays fell to San Antonio Brandeis 25-10, 25-19.
Hays’ Hannah Ramsey, who played both outside hitter and middle blocker for the Lady Rebs, was named All-Tournament.
“I thought both Hannah and Natalie really stepped up for us in the Northside ISD Tournament,” Walther said. “I’m glad Hannah was named All-Tournament, but Natalie easily could have earned that honor as well.”
Walther said she’s glad Hays was able to play against some opponents in the San Antonio tourney.
“It’s always good when you get to test yourself against not only good Class 5A teams, but people you know you’ll be seeing down the road, like Boerne Champion,” Walther said. “I think we could have been more consistent with our play in the tournament, but that’s what these non-district matches are for. We get to put a lot of different combinations on the floor and see what is going to work for us this season.”
Hays played Monday night at Dripping Springs and fell in four sets, 25-21, 25-19, 23-25, 25-15.
Paradeaux led the Lady Rebs with 17 kills and Valdez added 10 kills for Hays. Wristen had 27 assists and 10 digs to lead the Lady Rebels in both categories.
Kara Conn, McCauley, Ramsey and Paradeaux all had seven digs to help lead the Hays defensive attack.
“We’re still learning how to play together on the court, but I like what I see so far,” Walther said. “We obviously have things we can improve on, but I definitely think we’re on the right track.”
Hays will play in the Fraulein Volleyfest in New Braunfels, the second largest tournament in Texas, Thursday through Saturday.
The Lady Rebs will return home to play a tri-match with Wimberley and Rouse on Tuesday. Hays will play at 5 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m.