By Moses Leos III
A strong all-around effort wasn’t enough for the Hays High Lady Rebels to upset the state ranked Dripping Springs Lady Tigers Monday in Tiger Gym.
The Lady Tigers’ depth and experience proved too much, as the Lady Rebels fell 3-1 (11-25, 25-22, 20-25, 15-25). Hays followed with a straight set loss to Smithson Valley on Tuesday at Bales Gym.
“Dripping Springs is a great team. [We] did a good job of responding,” Lady Rebels head coach Stephanie Coates said. “I’m proud of our kids and their fight tonight. When we get to the point where we can do that consistently, teams better watch out.”
Passing fluidity proved a vital component for Hays on Monday. The improved aspect allowed Hays to keep pace with Dripping Springs in sets two and three.
Senior setter Kathryn Wristen attributed success to continued work in practice. She said the team had the ability, but it was a matter of working around the “mental block.”
Struggles showed in the first set, as Dripping Springs powered past the Lady Rebels. The Lady Tigers’ momentum continued into set two, where they held a 17-12 lead.
Things changed shortly thereafter following a Lady Rebel timeout. Coates stressed ball control, along with a continued aggressive attitude.
“We know when we have high energy and we stay focused and we set our block and don’t float around, we are hard to beat,” Coates said. “We just have to be disciplined, stick with the plan and keep our energy level through a match.”
The Lady Rebels battled back, guided by their defense. Hays rallied to close the set on a 13-5 run, tying the match.
Adjusting on the offensive end was critical in Hays’ success. Wristen said the team had to take smarter shots. Focusing on working around Dripping Springs middle blockers Morgyn Greer and Ashley Waggle was the key.
Senior Taylor Britton said the team’s energy level and consistency led to the rally.
“We saw what was open [on the court],” Wristen said. “We just adjusted.”
Hays’ momentum carried over into the third set, as they went back and forth with the Lady Tigers.
However, Hays couldn’t halt Greer, junior Carlie Schmidl or Waggle. The trio combined for 39 of the 53 total kills for the Lady Tigers.
“Ashley is going to be a key component. She stepped up to the challenge to take on that role,” Lady Tiger head coach Michael Kane said. “Obviously, Morgyn is talented, and when (the three) start going to the middle, it opens up our outside. Their swings are dominant.”
Dripping Springs’ prowess on offense allowed them to stay one step ahead of the Rebels in set three. It continued into set four, where Dripping Springs leapt to a 20-5 lead and never looked back.
Coates said the Lady Tigers were able to cut around the Rebel blockade at the net. While Hays was able to concoct several rallies, they couldn’t put the finishing touch when they needed to.
“We just didn’t make the play on the ball that we needed to make,” Coates said.
Despite the challenge, progress continues for the Lady Rebels. In fact, Coates attributes success to the team being coachable.
With the Fraulein Volleyfest in New Braunfels on the horizon, the team looks forward to progressing.
“We have to work hard and keep playing well together,” Britton said. “We’ll let it take us to where we need to go.”