Thursday, Sept. 21: That was the night when the Hiland Lady Hawks volleyball team truly found out what it was made of. Facing a terrifically talented Indian Valley team at Hiland High School, Adri Bryk’s Lady Hawks won a five-game thriller that told many tales.
The 19-25, 25-16, 25-19, 14-25, 15-11 victory created a madhouse in the Perry Reese, Jr. Community Center, and for good reason as both of these teams have loads of quality talent.
“What a big win for this program,” Bryk said following the game. “We did a lot of things really well. We did some things we weren’t proud of, but that is going to happen, especially against a team that good.”
In the final game the two teams were locked up at 10-10 when Mya Blochlinger rose and drilled a kill to give Hiland momentum. “That was a big hit for us and a huge step for Mya,” Bryk said.
Indian Valley then hit a ball long, but the Braves got a punishing kill from Kayla Tschudy to draw to within 12-11. The next play proved controversial and huge. Hiland hit a ball long, but the head referee said the ball had been tipped. The Braves argued the call, but in the end the point went Hiland’s way. Indian Valley then hit the next play wide, making it 14-11 and setting the stage for Hiland’s best server Madison Yoder to complete the conquest.
Yoder’s serve did a nose-dive as it crossed the net, and despite a diving attempt, it went for an ace, ending the thriller.
— OhioSportsTicket.com (@OhioTicket) September 22, 2017
Earlier this season the Braves had dealt Hiland a 25-14, 25-23, 25-20 three-game loss in a game that Indian Valley dominated. That was on Aug. 29.
Nearly one month later, the Lady Hawks wanted to see exactly where they stood versus one of the best teams in the area. It was going to be a measuring stick kind of game.
Here is what the Lady Hawks learned.
- This team has gotten a lot better: The improvement from August to September is noticeable, and the Lady Hawks have made strides across the board. “We knew coming in that this was going to be a measuring stick for us because they handled us pretty easily the first time through,” Bryk said. “It was important for us to play a more competitive game against them this time.”
- This team can come back from a deficit: Hiland was down a game early in this contest and could have fallen prey to the “we got thumped last time” mentality that can creep in. Instead Hiland rallied after the early game one dousing to win the next two, and then after seeing momentum swing the Braves’ way, they rallied again in the all-important game five. “We just had to calm down and cut out all of the silly errors,” Bryk said of her team’s transition from game four to game five. “We had passed the ball poorly in game four, and we have been working hard on those game-five situations, and it paid off tonight.”
- This team is confident: In order to play a team as talented as Indian Valley, you can’t go in scared, and Hiland didn’t. In fact they are now at a point where they feel they are going to win night in, night out. “It definitely makes life more interesting when you have the mind-set that you are going to take it at every single team you play,” Bryk said. “These girls have the potential, and we have the mentality that we can take it at anyone. We know it’s tough, and we have a rugged schedule, but the potential is there, and they believe we can do it.”
- This team has a lot of weapons: Setter Kim Miller is talented and a great leader, but it certainly helps having plenty of options. She can go to four or five different hitters and also is a capable hitter herself. However, when a team doesn’t know who will be the next Lady Hawk attacking, it makes it so much tougher to defend. “This feels amazing, and I couldn’t be prouder of everyone,” Madison Yoder said. “Mya has improved so much and gives us one more big weapon up front, and our passing has gotten a lot better. Right now we really are playing with a lot of confidence, but one of the things we have talked about is not getting too high or too low depending on who we play. We want to approach each game with the same intensity, with the mind-set that we are going to win.”
- This team has huge expectations: When a coach starts nit-picking on the negatives following big wins, which Hiland has had several of over the past two weeks, you know expectations have risen to great heights. That is where the Lady Hawks are right now. “We’ve set the bar extremely high now, and that is what we are going to continue to do,” Bryk said.