SALADO — In poker, three aces is hard to beat.
In a volleyball game, though, three consecutive aces can often lead to the proverbial nail being driven into an equally proverbial pine box.
Such was the case for Shyenne Hicks on Tuesday night during the Salado Lady Eagles’ four-set victory over Temple. The Lady Eagles won 25-13, 20-25, 25-22, 25-21.
“When you hit the ball right, it’s supposed to make the right kind of noise — a hard thwump,” said Salado head coach Tara Hatfield. “When (Hicks) is on, she makes that sound and it can be intimidating.”
Having just earned a kill to extend Salado’s lead to 3-1, Hicks stepped to serve early in the third game. With the Tem-Cats and Lady Eagles (5-8) splitting the match’s first two games, Hicks wanted to assert herself.
The senior captain ripped off five straight serves for points, three for aces, and the 3-1 lead grew to 8-1 before Temple (4-17) could end her serve. She finished with five aces and eight kills.
“We practice our serving all the time and if we don’t get them down we have to run,” Hicks said. “Coach Hatfield just wants consistency, and that’s what I tried to do.”
Hatfield said: “She hits with such power and topspin that if she doesn’t keep the ball down consistently, she can over-serve. But like we saw today, when she’s on, she is as good as anybody.”
The beaming coach was both encouraged and impressed with what Hicks accomplished, but she nearly gushed when discussing Taylor Atwood.
The junior outside hitter led all players with 15 kills while adding two blocks.
“I’ve told Taylor that when she wants it she can be almost impossible to stop,” Hatfield said. “I want to see her be more aggressive because we need her to score for us – she is one of our go-to-players.”
Atwood scored the final two points in each of the three Lady Eagles victories but didn’t even notice that she had done so — she was too focused on the task at hand.
“It was coach’s strategy for Meagan Hill to feed me the ball, so I just concentrated on being in the right spot and doing my job,” Atwood said. “Hill put it in the right spot and I got it down.”
Hill totaled 39 assists while junior Taylor Valeriano contributed 13 digs. The Tem-Cats are also a young team and are in the midst of gaining crucial experience that will pay dividends for years.
Sophomore middle-player Timmea Joiner-Hargrove displayed spiking power that rivaled some of the area’s best.
“She is only a sophomore and is learning every day — right now she is playing varsity based on pure talent and raw ability,” Temple head coach Tim McDonald said. “Wait till she learns all the variables that happen in this game. The sky’s the limit.”