The Hiland Lady Hawks volleyball team may boast a record of just 6-9, but that may be one of the more deceiving records around.
After a sluggish start, Hiland has found the secret of success, and its latest conquest was a thrilling five-game match over the Strasburg Tigers in Tigertown Thursday, Sept. 29.
Hiland pulled out a 13-25, 25-18, 25-21, 21-25, 16-14 win over the Tigers in what turned into a most entertaining contest.
In the previous meeting at Hiland earlier this season, the Tigers finished off Hiland in four games, winning rather handily in the process in keeping Hiland’s scores in the teens in their three winning efforts.
That all changed, just as the expectations and success has changed for Hiland over the past seven games. After starting the season 1-7, Hiland has since won five of its last seven games, the only losses coming to Inter-Valley Conference front-runner and state-ranked Tuscarawas Central Catholic, and Garaway the IVC team closely chasing the Saints.
Just seeing the reversal of fortunes for Hiland, in watching it take down a talented Strasburg team, shows how far this group has come in its effort to put the Lady Hawks’ volleyball program back on the winning track.
While the winning ways have promoted greater confidence in the Lady Hawks, game one certainly did nothing to bolster their belief that they could win. Strasburg got out to a huge lead early, and crushed Hiland 25-13 in game one, setting the table for what looked like a repeat of their first meeting this year. However, a renewed attitude in the belief they can win helped Hiland right the ship and rally, and rally it did.
Led by the serving of Madison Yoder, and a unified effort at the net by a host of players, Hiland dug deep and came back to win game two, 25-18.
As was the case in their initial meeting, game three became a pivotal game. For the most part, game three is often a crucial one to get, and Hiland played perhaps its best game of the season in churning out a 25-12 victory in which Madisynn Bryk, Nikki Overholt and Brooke Stutzman took over at the net.
With Kim Miller and Brittany Wengerd getting the ball in position from the back row, Miller began finding the trio of hitters with abandonment, and Hiland went to work in quickly taking the upper hand.
But with Strasburg being a very good squad, this one was not going to be easy. In a back-and-forth contest in which Hiland was trying to put things away while the Tigers were fighting for their lives, it would be Strasburg that would pull out the tight 25-21 win, setting the stage for a winner-take-all game five that was as exciting as a game can be.
The two teams played a game of give and take, as they marched toward the short-game number of 15 points that would allow them to earn a victory.
However, on this night, with tension high, it would take 16 points to go home a winner, and Hiland would find that number with a 16-14 victory that set off a wild and jubilant celebration on the Lady Hawks’ side of the net.
Yoder would lead the way for Hiland with a whopping 20 service points, including six aces, while Bryk served up eight points with four aces. The blossoming Bryk had a monster game, tacking on 10 kills and six blocks, while both Overholt and Stutzman added 10 kills apiece. Miller had a huge game too, doling out 34 assists while making 17 digs, while Wengerd added 25 digs in her libero role.
The Lady Hawks junior varsity added to the joy of the evening, scoring a two game win with a 25-11, 35-14 victory.