Hayden coach Christene Planansky leads the Tigers' bench in celebration after a point late in Saturday's match against Rangely. Hayden swept the Panthers in three sets.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Hayden coach Christene Planansky leads the Tigers' bench in celebration after a point late in Saturday's match against Rangely. Hayden swept the Panthers in three sets.

Hayden volleyball slams Rangely in three sets

— Watch out. Hayden’s coming.

That’s the message Hayden High School volleyball coach Christene Planansky said her Tigers broadcast Saturday afternoon. With a final-set rally that left Hayden fans screaming and leaping for joy, the Tigers dispatched Rangely in three sets, taking yet another step in a powerful bounce-back season.

Hayden won, 25-15, 25-17, 26-24.

“I was excited,” Planansky said, a smile still splitting her face well after the game and her voice still hoarse after a boisterous afternoon of cheering from the bench. “It’s been a long time since we beat Rangely, and I know for my seniors, this is something they really wanted. For all of us, it’s something we really wanted.”

The Tigers simply were too much for the Panthers in the first two sets, where Hayden build big leads, and late in the third set, where the team ate away at a deficit, then pulled out an astonishing comeback.

Senior Olivia Zehner helped mastermind that third-set drama, and when a fourth set seemed imminent, she was the one who stepped up to finish Rangely in three.

Hayden trailed early in the third set but rallied and tied the game, trading blows with the Panthers as the teams tied at every point between 11 and 16. Rangely pulled away and led, 24-19, one point from victory, but Zehner stepped to the line to serve for Hayden.

Red-hot recently serving, she didn’t let down.

She scored three aces and set up another kill to junior Jordan Temple, her go-to partner for powerful points throughout the game. Trailing by one, 24-23, she made a diving save to keep one point alive, then set the ball a moment later to Temple for another monster kill and a tie game.

She never missed as Hayden scored the game’s final seven points to win.

“She’s a very determined person, and she’s been practicing really hard on different ways of serving,” Planansky said. “She performs better under stress than a lot of people. I know I can depend on her. Once I knew she was back there serving at the end, I felt good.”

The win pushes Hayden to 7-3 and marked the second time this season it has strung together a three-game winning streak. It was also the third game in a row Hayden didn’t give up a set to its opponent.

“We were looking at this game all year,” Temple said. “We really focused up, and we really took it to them. I knew we had it in us to do it.”

Now Hayden, its cover as a league Cinderella surely blown, must keep that focus up if it's to stay on the hot roll it's relishing. Two huge home games loom for Hayden this week at 6 p.m. Friday against 8-3 Plateau Valley and at noon Saturday against undefeated and rarely challenged Paonia.

For the Tigers, plenty of work remains.

“There are always things we can improve on,” Temple said.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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