• Volleyball - Holmes County •

Lady Hawks rally from 2 down to nip Lady Knights in 5

Cross-county rivals duke it out in five

One team has been great for years and years. The other is an up-and-comer that wants to push its way into the ranks of the upper echelon. On Saturday, Sept. 16 at West Holmes High School, the upstart Hiland Lady Hawks visited long-time power West Holmes Lady Knights in a cross-county bash that featured plenty of drama.

After dropping the first two games in extremely close fashion, the Lady Hawks rallied to win the next two and force the deciding game to 15 in game five, and Hiland walked out of WHHS having knocked off yet another one of the area’s top programs.

Hiland won the five-game match 27-29, 23-25, 25-8, 25-19, 15-12.

Hiland’s recent play included a five-game loss to powerful Buckeye Trail, a five-game victory over a very talented Claymont team and then West Holmes.

Assistant coach Carrie Jones, who was filling in as the interpreter for head coach Adri Bryk because Bryk had lost her voice in the excitement of the Claymont match, said the Lady Hawks’ current run through some incredibly tough competition is good for the team as it continues to improve.

“We have played some incredible competition lately, and what has been exciting for us is we’ve seen our girls come back night after night and play some really good volleyball,” Jones said as all Bryk could do was nod in agreement. “This stretch is giving our kids a lot of confidence. I don’t think people realize how much the Inter-Valley Conference has grown in volleyball with these new schools coming in. Seeing teams like Claymont, Buckeye Trail, Indian Valley and Tusky Valley is really going to challenge us, but it is also going to make us so much better, just like today’s match will.”

Over the recent years West Holmes has dominated this match-up, but with Hiland vastly improved, West Holmes coach Savannah Moore knew it was going to be an exciting match.

“We were looking forward to this because the cross-county rivalry is exciting. Plus we know they are a very improved team, and it was going to be a challenge,” Moore said.

The first game of the day was a spirited contest in which neither team led by more than three points. It was typically back-and-forth throughout until West Holmes built a 24-23 lead. Hiland battled back and actually took a 27-26 lead on Mya Blochlinger’s kill, but West Holmes then turned to heavy-hitting Lauren Park, who delivered two kills to put West Holmes up 28-27. Hiland then got the hitter it wanted at the net, but Lady Knight Reagan Wilcox rejected Madisynn Bryk’s kill attempt for the win.

Game two was a carbon copy of game one with both teams battling to gain the upper hand and neither succeeding. Eventually Hiland took a 13-9 lead, its largest of the day to that point, before West Holmes rallied to tie and eventually pull ahead. At 23-all, Park delivered a kill from the back row, and on the final point of the game, the Lady Hawks had a call go against them in which Bryk was called for a double hit when the first of the two hits was a block.

That 25-23 West Holmes victory put the Lady Knights in position to win in three, but Hiland shook off the tough call and went to work, pounding out a 25-8 win in game three to grab momentum in a big way.

Game four got back to a more closely fought game, but the Lady Hawks were eventually able to inch away and took care of the Lady Knights, setting up the quick chase to 15 points in game five.

Everyone expected a tight battle in the final game for all the marbles, and as tension built, Hiland was able to get the play it needed in crunch time to earn the win.

Moore said that regardless of the outcome, playing the kind of competition they have played, in which every game is a challenge, is something that will help her team in the long run.

“This is really good for us because we are in a stretch of playing some great competition, and when it comes to getting us ready for tournament play, this is going to be a good thing for us to experience,” Moore said. “It adds some pressure and holds us to a higher standard, and it is going to pay dividends in the long run.”

Hiland’s victory improved the Lady Hawks to 10-3, and the difficulty of schedule makes that record even more impressive.

“Every game is a big game for us,” Jones said. With Hiland’s improvement, they realize nobody is giving them a free pass.

“We are getting everyone’s A-game,” Jones said. “We have to be ready and mentally focused every game.”

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