By Moses Leos III
Three sets were all the Hays Lady Rebel volleyball team needed Monday to claim its first win of the 2016 season.
A 13-kill effort from senior Hailee Morton guided the Lady Rebels to dominant 25-14, 25-15, 26-24s win over Kerrville Tivy in their season opener at Bales Gym.
Hays High senior middle blocker Mackenzie Coates said starting off the season with a straight set win was the goal for the Lady Rebels and the seniors.
“For the seniors, this is our last first game,” Coates said. “So we wanted to make sure we went out strong.”
Hays quickly took control of the match early on as they rolled past Tivy in the first two sets of the match.
Hays head coach Stephanie Coates said adept ball control allowed Hays to dictate the tempo of the match.
“We weren’t giving away points and it allowed us to build momentum and not give one (point), take one, give one, take one,” Coates said.
Morton said the Lady Rebels, who were starting off fresh and with a “lot of energy,” were focused and were able to work with each other.
She said the team entered the game expecting to win, with the focus of limiting themselves to six errors per set. But she said the team also focused on having fun on the court.
“We were having fun. That’s what it was,” Morton said. “We were having a lot of fun.”
Tivy, however, stormed back in the third set, keeping the score close in the early going. Hays led 18-13 before Tivy rallied for a 9-2 run, taking a 22-20 advantage.
Coates said reminding her team to finish out games, which they struggled with last season, was paramount to their success.
“Our big thing this year is to maintain intensity and push people all the way through the match and not let them come back,” Coates said. “I reminded them, ‘let’s not slip back into old ways.’”
Mackenzie said the team’s defensive errors led to struggles in the third set. The team’s ability to push through the issues and play consistently helped Hays stave off the Antlers, even as Tivy held set point at 24-23 in set three.
Hays closed the match on a 3-0 run for the win.
While she felt the Lady Rebels could have “played more aggressively and quicker speed tonight,” Coates said she was proud of the team’s execution.
She said the win helps provide the team confidence as they head into the Pearland Invitational Tournament, which draws some of the top volleyball teams in the state.
Morton said playing as a team will help as they hit the tournament.
“We learned we worked together really well and we’re excited for Pearland,” Mackenzie said. “There are a lot of good teams, but we’re a good team.”
Coates led the team with 33 assists, while Kaitlyn Krafka finished with 13 digs. Coates and Kacie Hall each finished with four blocks.
Tivy’s Kaylie Morgan led the Antlers with seven kills.