Hiland Volleyball

Braves bounce Lady Hawks in a roller coaster ride of thrills

Some great plays highlighted a night of fantastic play between Lady Hawks and Braves

The confrontation between visiting Indian Valley and host Hiland in their Inter-Valley Conference volleyball showdown on Tuesday, Aug. 28 was exactly what high school sports should be.

The night featured a healthy dose of respect, a ton of talent and a fantastic finish that saw both teams making plays, but in the end it went the Braves’ way as they held off the Lady Hawks 25-21, 24-26, 25-20, 13-25, 15-9.

“It’s just great volleyball,” Indian Valley head coach Tera Pryor said. “We split last year, and it was the exact same thing tonight. We got our schedule, and this was exactly what we were looking for with them. They were awesome. Their defense was unbelievable. They just didn’t quit.”

Hiland coach Adri Bryk agreed about the level of competition, although she and her team’s feelings after the game were not quite as elated as were Pryor and her team.

“That was extremely fun volleyball, but it stinks to come out on the losing side,” Bryk said. “But for us to play this kind of competition at that level of play, it is only going to make us better.”

Coming off of a tough loss in five games to rival Claymont, the Braves were looking to quickly get back on track, and they knew it wouldn’t be easy.

“You never know how teenage girls are going to respond to a big loss like that, but we knew we could get a huge win if we came in here and beat Hiland to get back on track,” Pryor said. “We responded, and I couldn’t be prouder. This team is a little bit more resilient than we have been in the past.”

After capturing a 25-21 win in game one, Indian Valley was looking to put the Lady Hawks in a huge hole but fell behind in game two and had to claw back. Hiland held a commanding 24-19 lead, and it looked like it was over, but the Braves fought back to tie it at 24, only to see Hiland rally and win it on an Olivia Gingerich ace.

Tied at one, Indian Valley came storming out in game three to take an early 5-1 lead. The lead only grew as Kiara Rakeshaw took control at the net, and the score was 15-6 until Hiland found its footing. The Lady Hawks clawed back to make a game of it, but Kitanna Rakeshaw’s huge kill lifted Indian Valley back into a big lead at 20-13. The serving of Gingerich and Madison Yoder brought the Lady Hawks back to within 23-20, but it was too much to overcome, and Kiara Rakeshaw finished off game three with a kill to give the Braves a 2-1 edge.

“We just didn’t have any kind of answer for the Rakeshaw twins all night long, so we will have to go back to the drawing board for our next meeting,” Bryk said.

Led by Yoder at the service line and Madisynn Bryk and Mya Blochlinger at the net, Hiland stormed to a 25-13 win in game four. Yoder served four points to start the game and went on a nine-serve tear later as Hiland forced its will on the Braves. The Lady Hawks had two amazing points late in the game, in which they dug out five balls in one point and three balls in the ensuing point, all of which seemed bound for the floor.

“We had some moments of loss, but we definitely had some moments of greatness, and that was crazy,” Bryk said. “We played awesome, and that is what we are capable of doing. You’d like to multiply that and have it all the time, but that is tough to do. We were all over the floor. Jasmine Hershey had a huge pancake, and it was exciting to see us play at that level with that kind of extreme effort.”

That set the stage for game five to 15 points. The Braves took a 3-0 lead only to see Hiland respond with Yoder at the service line, tying the game at three.

However, the stars came out to play for the Braves, and after Kiara Rakeshaw got a kill and a block and Hiland smacked one long, it was 6-3 in favor of Indian Valley.

A Bryk kill and an Indian Valley error brought it back to 6-5, but Kiara Rakeshaw again took over with two kills. Leading 10-5, the Braves hit a ball into the net, and Bryk dinked one across for a score, then rocketed one down for a kill. Suddenly it was 10-8, forcing a Braves time-out.

“I told the girls that we couldn’t afford to drop our first two games in the league, so we needed a big effort,” Pryor said.

Her team responded. Kelci Martin came up with a monster block, Hiland had four hits, Kiara Rakeshaw recorded a kill and all of a sudden Hiland was reeling, trailing 13-9. Another big-time blast from Martin and a somewhat anti-climactic final point gave the Braves a big win.

The loss was Hiland’s first in an Inter-Valley Conference South Division that features a terrifying gauntlet of talented teams including these two, Buckeye Trail, Claymont, Garaway and Ridgewood. It should be a battle royale as these teams fight it out for the South title.

Pryor and Bryk both expressed identical sentiments when it comes to facing the rigors of the IVC South.

“I told our girls after the game that we can celebrate now, but we don’t get a night off in this league, which is good because it is going to make us better in the long run,” Pryor said.

“You’ve got to bring it every game in the South,” Bryk said. “But this was just fantastic high school volleyball. We will take what we can from this game and learn and apply it. We have had kids talking about that perfect regular season, and now that is over. We have a loss, and now we can settle in and play because the pressure is off from that idea. These types of games are good for us, but they are emotionally and physically tiring for all of us. I think these two teams know each other so well. They are a great program, they are well coached and we expect nothing less than what we saw tonight.”

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