By Spencer Spilman
The Hays Rebels volleyball team hosted the state ranked Vandegrift Lady Vipers, who are currently the No. 15 team in the Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 6A poll.
The Rebels caught the Lady Vipers off guard after winning the first set 25-23, but Vandegrift came back to win the final three sets 28-26, 25-13, and 25-23.
The first set was back and forth from both teams. While Vandegrift had more size at the net, it was Hays who dominated that aspect in the set. Hays’ Kaitlyn Krafka had seven of her team-high 20 kills in the first set.
Rebel sophomores Jamie Agnew and Catherine Croft played strong at the net, earning several kills in the first set win.
Vandegrift’s Ryan Palmieri had four blocks in the first set for the Lady Vipers, and Simone Priebe had two of her team-high 15 kills, as well as an ace.
Hays jumped out to an early lead in the second set behind Krafka and fellow outside hitter Hailee Morton. Mackenzie Coates, who was pivotal in getting her big hitters the ball, finished with a match-high 41 assists.
Even when Vandegrift closed the gap, Rebel Kacie Hall was there with a big block to capture momentum back for the Lady Rebels. Hall had a match-high six blocks.
Hall helped Hays jump out to a 15-10 lead. But the Lady Vipers stormed back to tie the set at 20.
The set continued its nail-biting pace, as both teams were knotted at 26-26. But Vandegrift won two tough points in a row to win a thrilling second set 28-26.
Momentum then shifted the Lady Vipers’ way, allowing Vandegrift to dominate the third set to take an 18-3 lead.
Krafka had several kills to rally, but Hays dropped the third set.
Vandegrift carried that momentum into the fourth set, as they took an early 8-0 lead before Hays got on the scoreboard.
Through the play of Croft, Agnew and Hall, Hays rallied to reestablish momentum and orchestrated an 11-4 run.
Hays took its first lead of the fourth set at 21-20 after a Hall block, followed by a kill from Krafka. The Rebels’ lead expanded to 22-20 before Vandegrift responded back.
Vandegrift went on a four-point run to take a 24-20 lead. Hays made one last attempt at a rally, but fell short.
With just four games left in the season, Hays will look to bounce back at Leander on Friday in hopes of making the playoffs.