Hiland Volleyball

Big hopes start with big win for Lady Hawks

Madisynn Bryk

The Hiland Lady Hawks volleyball team has a group loaded with talent and experience returning to the court this season, and Adri Bryk’s crew didn’t hesitate coming out of the gate for the 2017 season.

Big-time serving and a concerted team effort propelled the Lady Hawks to a quick three-game victory over Loudonville at Loudonville High School on Saturday, Aug. 19.

Led by Arryn Schlabach and Madison Yoder, Hiland rolled the Redbirds 25-6, 25-11, 25-13 to make quick work of their game-one opponent.

“This group has a lot of big goals and a lot of big dreams, so it was nice for us to come right out of the gate and play well in game one,” Bryk said. “I thought we accomplished a lot of the things we wanted to do. We had some specific plays we wanted to work on and run, and we were successful in doing that, so it was a good day.”

Hiland bolted out to a huge day in game one with Madisynn Bryk and Mya Blochlinger playing big roles at the net. Meanwhile Yoder was on fire from the service line early on. As Hiland pulled away, Schlabach toed the service line and reeled off seven straight points to end the game with Hiland on a big run.

Blochlinger got Hiland going in game two with a crushing blow off a Kim Miller set, and the Lady Hawks jumped out quickly at 4-0. The Redbirds battled back to within 4-3 and 5-4, but Hiland quickly went on a mini-run, and by the time Miller snuck a fake set across the net that landed in no-man’s land, Hiland led 17-9. The Lady Hawks continued to play solidly throughout game two until Blochlinger nailed a cross-court winner to left to give Hiland a 25-11 win.

Game three was a carbon copy of the rest of the day with Hiland showcasing too much depth for the Redbirds to cover. Miller continued to distribute the ball to a number of offensive weapons including setting up both Bryk and Olivia Gingerich for big kills. However, Loudonville was finding its footing and crept to within 12-9 before Yoder took over at the service line and starting dealing out a wicked serve that the Redbirds couldn’t handle. Yoder pushed the Lady Hawks out to a huge lead, and Liz Keim’s middle hit found the floor on the other side of the net to end the contest in favor of Hiland.

“We have some really strong servers, and we want to utilize that,” coach Bryk said. “I thought we used our depth well today too. We have a strategy of who we want where and when, and it went pretty well today. Everyone filled their role today, and that is what you love to see, especially this early in the year.”

A trio of Lady Hawks had success up front with Bryk and Blochlinger each recording eight kills and Gingerich adding seven. Miller doled out 24 assists and did a nice job of delegating across the front line, where she utilized Hiland’s depth well. Kate Hershberger and Jasmine Hershey each recorded five digs, but it was at the service line where Hiland made Loudonville pay, Schlabach serving up 14 points with five aces and Yoder dealing out 10 points on four aces.

“It was fun to actually get out and play someone in a game that meant something,” Schlabach said. As for her service acumen, she said it all boiled down to one simple factor. “I honestly just didn’t think about it,” she said. “When you start overthinking things, you get in trouble, so I just went up there and did my thing, and I knew my teammates would be ready for whatever.”

She added that she felt her team played well as a unit, and they did a nice job of picking each other up and encouraging each other when things didn’t go right, which on the day was not very often.

Hiland showed off a tenacity on defense and displayed something it hasn’t had a lot of in recent years, which is a bit of a defensive presence at the net, thanks to a little bit of height with Blochlinger and Bryk.

“We’ve actually got a little size now, which is really nice,” coach Bryk said. “This was a terrific start for us. We have such a strong core back, and we added Olivia, who gives us a lot more depth up front.”

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