Rosters can be deceptive. A roster filled with seniors and juniors doesn’t necessarily mean a squad filled with experience.
As so it is for the Hayes boys volleyball team, which fell behind early in every game and lost in three to the visiting Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets 25-15, 25-12, 25-16 Thursday night at Hayes High School.
“I’ve got a young group of guys, not necessarily young in age, but young in experience,” Hayes coach Josh Lee said. “It shows in the consistency of play and the ability to execute and finish plays, and against a team like Mount Vernon, which has a lot of guys who don’t make many mistakes, you need that consistency and execution.”
Hayes (4-12) fell behind early in the first game when Mount Vernon’s (9-7) Bryan Downs served the first six points, helping the Yellow Jackets to a 19-7 lead after the first rotation.
The Pacers got their chances when they could, using senior outside hitter Alex Carpenter to full effect. Carpenter led all hitters in the game with 10 of Hayes’ 17 kills, adding a game-high five blocks plus two set assists while going a perfect 7 of 7 from the service line.
“Alex probably has shoe marks on his back because he really carries the team,” Lee said. “He’s our kill leader every night, and if he’s having an off night, we rarely have a chance to win. Typically, when the game gets out of reach like it did tonight, most of our sets will go to him.”
But Mount Vernon received solid hitting, passing and serve receiving all match long while the Pacers could not seem to get anything going consistently.
“Our guys are trying hard, and you can see that in how they play and how much they care,” Lee said. “They’re frustrated though a lot of our guys have stepped up, but we’re still trying to develop everyone in practice.”
Hayes opened the second game scoring the first three points with senior Sam Spivey serving, but after a Jacket kill, Downs served the next nine points of the game, including three aces during that span, and Mount Vernon never trailed again.
The Pacers battled in the opening moments of the third game, cutting an early Mount Vernon lead back to 8-4, but another service run, this time from the Jackets’ Konnor Shoemaker, helped the visitors to a 17-6 lead after the first rotation.
Hayes again fought back, getting a kills from Carpenter, senior middle hitter Walter Neace and senior outside hitter Jeremy Hunt, and added an ace serve from Neace, but the Yellow Jackets were able to get a point or two between the Hayes flurries and push the score to 24-15.
A service error prevented Mount Vernon from winning the match on serve, but a kill from Downs ended it on the next serve.
Neace finished with three kills and a block while going 4 of 6 on serve with his ace for the Pacers. Hunt finished with two kills and was perfect on 11 serves, while Spivey added a kill, a block and a team-high seven set assists, going 9 for 9 on service.
Junior defensive specialist Tommy Gibbs also had a kill and a block while hitting on 3 of 4 serves. Junior setter Austin McKenzie was 5 for 5 on service with three assists, and Stone Banks-Herrell was perfect on two serves.
Downs led the way for the Jackets with six kills, 11 set assists and two blocks, and also topped all servers going 23 of 24 from the line with four aces.