Having one player who plays anywhere helps team succeed

Maia Sadler of Fruita tries to pound one through the block of Central’s Maddi Vana and Amy Kame at Fruita

Successful teams usually have one player who can play anywhere.

For the Central High School volleyball team, that player is 5-foot-11 junior Haleigh Higgins.
In a 25-20, 13-25, 25-23, 18-25, 15-11 win over Fruita Monument on Tuesday, Higgins played both outside hitter and made her debut at setter helping the Warriors to the crucial league win at Fruita.

The Warriors (12-4, 5-3 Southwestern Conference) won 25-20, 13-25, 25-23, 18-25, 15-11.

“Higgins is a real player,” Fruita Monument coach Amelia Connor said. “I didn’t know if they could adjust with her at setter but they did when it counted.”

Higgins was active in all facets of the game. Running around the court to make digs and setting the ball while still being able to be productive in the hitting game. The junior filled up the stat line with 21 digs, 10 kills, four aces, two blocks and an impressive 30 assists.

“Haleigh had just one day of practice as a setter,” Central coach Beth Nelson said. “She has done great and I am really proud of her.”

But why did the Warriors take a solid outside hitter and change her position?

The Warriors had most of their early success running two setters with junior Alyce Albright and sophomore Nikki Keeling. When Albright went down with an injury, that threw off the Central chemistry and after losing at Durango and Cortez last weekend Nelson made the switch.

“It was a tough weekend and I knew we had to make a change,” Nelson said. “I asked (Higgins) if she was comfortable making the change and she said ‘yeah coach I’ll do anything.’ ”

The Warriors still haven’t fully adjusted to the switch as the two games they lost to Fruita, the Wildcats (11-6, 5-5 SWL) rolled. Maia Sadler and Mary McGee led the way as Sadler had 14 kills and 16 digs and McGee turned in 11 kills and 18 digs.

Although the Wildcats attacked the net well in the two games they won, Connor said she was looking for more consistency out of the offensive attack in the crucial games.

“I was a little surprised by our lack of aggressiveness, especially in game one and game five,” Connor said. “When we swung away, we were fine. It is good to expect the block, but sometimes you have got to swing away.”

Defensively the Wildcats played one of their best games of the year. The Wildcats combined for more than 90 digs against a hard hitting front line of Central’s Amy Kame, Ashley Wells, Meg Fisher and recent junior varsity call-up Kristina Lindsey.

Kame, and Wells had double digit kills with Kame finishing with 16 and Wells with 11.

“I was very pleased with our defense tonight,” Connor said. “It was very scrappy and we kept a lot of balls alive. I would say Central earned this win.”

It was the final game of the season for the Wildcats and Central will have a rematch with Durango and Cortez this weekend.

“This is exactly what we needed,” Nelson said. “We need a couple more days of practice to get ready for Durango and Cortez but it was a good win for us.”


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