COLFAX — Ries Wilson couldn’t hold the back the tears on an emotional night Monday inside the Tigerhawks’ home gym.
Wilson went over the 1,000 mark for career kills early in the second set, but Colfax-Mingo lost to rival HLV in four sets. After the match, Wilson was awarded a ball that was signed by her teammates.
“I’m not ready to be done. I’ve just had a great time playing with these girls and it’s hard for me to believe that it’s almost over,” Wilson said. “I have played with Megan (Earles) for my whole life, and I am not going to get to play with her anymore after this year.”
The Tigerhawks came back from an early hole, but HLV claimed a 25-17, 24-26, 25-18, 28-26 win during an SICL match.
Wilson came into the match needed four kills to get to 1,000 for her career. She had three kills in the first set and the historical smash came in the second game and tied the score at 1-all.
She finished with 20 kills and 20 digs in the match, and setter Megan Earles also collected a double-double with 34 assists and 10 digs.
The downfall for the Tigerhawks (7-7 overall, 1-3 in the conference) was again errors at the net.
“We are still just beating ourselves too much,” Colfax-Mingo coach Michelle Grant said. “We missed too many key serves, and we are making too many hitting errors. We error ourselves out of matches. We can’t afford to miss serves and not hit the ball in play in back-and-forth games.”
Colfax-Mingo missed only six serves in the match, but most of those came at crucial parts in the game. They also had 24 hitting errors.
“We are improving, but so is every other team we play,” Grant said. “We need to make our learning curve a little steeper and get up the hill.”
HLV, which has won eight straight matches and is now 4-0 in the SICL, led throughout the entire first set. Wilson got the Tigerhawks to within 15-14 with back-to-back kills, but the Warriors (12-3, 4-0) rolled off six straight points to take control of the game.
The Tigerhawks turned the tables in game two. Earles put away two tips at the net to give Colfax-Mingo a 10-6 lead early. They remained in front until HLV tied it at 16-all.
Junior Colbee Cunningham and Wilson put the home team back up with three straight points. A Wilson kill came between a Cunningham tip and an ace.
Wilson then came back with consecutive kills to extend the lead to 21-17. Wilson mixed up her attacks, scoring one with all she had and another by taking a little power off the ball.
Another tip to the corner by Wilson put the Tigerhawks up four. HLV rallied to tie it at 24-all, but Colfax-Mingo evened the match with two straight points.
HLV turned the momentum back into its favor with a dominant third set. Colfax-Mingo led 5-2 early, but the Warriors rallied with five straight points. The lead continued to grow from there and HLV went on to win by seven.
“We don’t look young on the floor because we have two seniors and a bunch of juniors for the most part, but only Ries, Megan and Chelsea have playing experience,” Grant said. “We have girls playing new positions so it’s still a learning process.”
Colfax-Mingo had a chance to force a fifth set when it grabbed an early lead. HLV though rallied from a 15-11 deficit to tie the match at 17-all. The Tigerhawks held 18-17 and 23-22 leads and also had game point twice but couldn’t finish it.
Cunningham had back-to-back kills to put the Tigerhawks up 25-24 and then another kill down the line gave her team a 26-25 advantage. Cunningham had eight kills and 20 digs in the loss.
“Colbee is making the most improvements and is learning faster than the others. She has been giving us that second hitter in recent games,” Grant said.
Junior Mac Brown finished with six kills, junior Chelsea Russell tallied a team-high 23 digs and freshman Kira Warrick collected 11 digs.
Serving was impressive for the most part, too. Junior Braedynn Rawlins was 13-of-13, Earles 12-of-12, Cunningham 12-of-13, Russell 18-of-20 and Wilson was 17-of-19. Brown also hit on eight of her nine serves.
It’s unfortunate for the Tigerhawks that they couldn’t celebrate a win on Wilson’s big night. Her 20 kills Monday night gives her 154 on the season, which now ranks second in the SICL.
“I still don’t think we get the ball to Ries enough,” Grant said. “She has done a great job though in making sure the team knows to get her the ball. She was asking for it a lot in that last game. I have been trying to get her to do that since her freshman year.”
Wilson couldn’t hold back tears after receiving the signed ball from Grant. She got even more emotional in the locker room a few minutes later and then cried again during the postgame interviews. But it’s happy tears for a talented Tigerhawk who is approaching the end of her career.
“I have worked hard my entire life to get to where I am today. My brothers have put in so much time helping me, and so has my parents and coach Grant and coach Blake,” Wilson said. “I’m just glad that I was able to do this because it’s been a goal that I have had for so long. It’s really satisfying knowing that I did it.”
The Tigerhawks are off the rest of the week. They host BGM at 7 p.m. Monday in Colfax.