Rebs punch playoff ticket with Ranger sweep

After missing a pair of games due to injury, Hays High junior outside hitter Catherine Croft hoped to at least keep the ball between the lines against the Vista Ridge Rangers Tuesday.

By securing ten kills to go along with senior Kaitlyn Krafka’s team high 13, Croft played a role in the Rebels punching their ticket to the postseason by beating Vista Ridge 25-10, 25-14, 25-14.

Hays (26-12, 7-3) now sits a game behind second placeVandergrift in the 25-6A standings with two critical home games left in the season. Croft said she anticipates the team will be focused moving forward.

(photo by Caleb Ruckel)

“They’re big games and we understand the importance of them,” Croft said. “We’ll come ready to play.”

Hays wasted little time in asserting its dominance over the Rangers Tuesday. After Vista Ridge took a 2-1 lead in the first set, the Rebels closed by going on a 24-8 run, aided by kills from Croft, Krafka and sophomore Ryann Torres.

Krafka said the Rebels’ tempo helped the team sustain success in the first set. Wanting to get off to a faster start was also a factor.

Stephanie Coates, Hays High head volleyball coach, said consistency from the team’s leaders, including its seniors, played a large role as well. She also pointed to the setting staff of Torres and junior Sierra Dittmar to help shepherd success. Torres finished with a team high 36 assists.

Hays continued its success in the second and third sets despite having to decipher a methodical Ranger offense. Coates said the slower pace forced Hays to pick up its own tempo. Krafka said the team lost focus for a short time in the second frame.

“We get excited after we crush them in the first set, and then we start slow in the second set,” Krafka said. “We have to pick up our mistakes as the game goes on.

The Rebels outlasted Vista Ridge to take the second set. The Rebels then rallied from a 6-5 deficit in the third set and outscored Vista Ridge 19-8 the rest of the way.

With the win, Coates said the Rebels now have control of their own destiny. While their goal of a district title isn’t in reach, she said the team hasn’t lost sight of the potential for a deep playoff run.

“Our goal now is to get as far as we can and make it past the first round,” Croft said. “It seems to be the roadblock we can’t pass. We hope to change that this year.”

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