Every team that has ever made a deep tournament run seems to go through one game where they didn’t play their best, yet they found a way to win.
Should the Div. III East District top-seeded Hiland Lady Hawks do that, they could well look back at their Tuesday, Oct. 23 game against Coshocton as that game.
The Lady Hawks never got into any kind of flow offensively. Their serving game, which is usually top-notch and their biggest strength, wasn’t particularly good, yet the Lady Hawks found a way to knock off a spirited Redskins team that may be youthful but at times looked plenty dangerous.
“It didn’t look pretty,” Hiland head coach Adri Bryk said. “We gave up too many runs, and at times our rotation was zero. The number of missed serves was way too many, but we got a win.”
That’s a big 10-4
Oddly enough Hiland held a 10-4 lead in each of the three games. In game one Hiland’s early lead slipped away little by little as Coshocton forced its way back into the game. Trailing 13-7, the Redskins went on a nice run that saw them draw even with Hiland at 19. However, Mya Blochlinger recorded a kill on a dink down the left side, Madison Yoder recorded a service ace, and after a Coshocton score, the Lady Hawks reeled off four straight points, led by kills from Kim Miller and Blochlinger.
Game two was the real frustration for Hiland as well as a glimpse of what Coshocton has to look forward to in the future.
Hiland held a 7-4 lead on the strength of Yoder’s serving prowess. Then the Lady Hawks just went nuts, outscoring the Redskins 11-1 to take an 18-5 lead. The big run came with Madisynn Bryk on the service line, where she cranked out a couple of aces as Yoder and Miller both recorded kills and Coshocton showed off its youth with a number of unforced errors.
However, things were about to take an ugly turn for the top-seeded Lady Hawks. Coshocton came storming back, sparked by the play of Evelyn Hire, Kindall Shaw and Rebekah Michael.
While Coshocton picked up its game, Hiland began making some uncharacteristic errors, and suddenly a game-two laugher saw Hiland’s lead shrink to 21-19.
The teams then traded punches to 23-21 before Hiland’s Olivia Gingerich recorded a big-time kill, and Coshocton knocked a hit wide to end the game in favor of Hiland.
Now up 2-0, Hiland was looking to assert itself and again found its way to a 10-4 lead, led by Blochlinger and Madisynn Bryk. With kills from Madisynn Bryk, Gingerich and Miller, Hiland once again pushed out to a large lead at 17-5, but this time the Lady Hawks seemed to be finally finding themselves and advanced to a 19-6 lead on another Miller kill.
There would be no big comeback run in this one as Blochlinger got a pair of kills and Madisynn Bryk nailed another for a 23-9 lead. While Coshocton managed a mini-run led by Shaw, Hiland put this one away without the drama of games one and two.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it is a ‘W,’ and we move on,” coach Bryk said. “We did put away some crucial balls at the end, and sometimes it all doesn’t go the way you want it to go.”
On giving up the big leads in games one and two, coach Bryk said that was a late-season trend that she thought her team had shaken off, but it crept back into this contest.
“To see that come back is frustrating,” coach Bryk said. “But Coshocton is a good team, and they were putting a lot of good offense together and were very scrappy. Nobody has anything to lose at this point in the season, and they played well.”
For Coshocton head coach Jordan Smith, whose young team played a difficult slate of games that saw them constantly competing against much bigger schools, the three-game set against the top seed was an indicator of some of the nice things her team can accomplish.
“I was impressed with how we didn’t give up and kept fighting,” Smith said. “I told them that you never know what can happen if you keep fighting. I think our tough schedule against a bunch of Div. I and II schools prepared us for tonight. I just wish we would have started with smaller deficits.”
Madisynn Bryk led the Lady Hawks serving attack with 14 winners along with a pair of aces, and Yoder served up 10 points and two aces. Blochlinger recorded 12 kills while Madisynn Bryk added nine, and Yoder and Miller each pitched in with six. Miller notched 20 assists.