Finally healthy, Cavan smashes 20 kills to carry Hawks to HOIC?win over Rams

South Hamilton senior Hailey Cavan celebrates one of her match-high 20 kills in the Hawks’ 3-1 win over Greene County last night in Jewell. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

JEWELL — When Hailey Cavan smiles, South Hamilton succeeds. And her pearly whites were on full display on Coach Jim Marsh Court last night.

It’s been a long road back for the senior outside hitter, who suffered an ankle injury in preseason practice and wasn’t quite her normal bubbly, powerful self during the first two weeks of the regular season.

She’s healthy now though, surely a problem for the rest of the Heart of Iowa Conference.

Cavan cranked out kills from the perimeter, from the middle of the court and from the back row in a 3-1 victory over league rival Greene County. Her final lash gave her a match-high 20 on the night, and the Hawks (12-10, 1-0 HOIC) put the throttle down following a second-set hiccup.

“This is the first (match) were I didn’t think at all about my ankle,” Cavan said following the Hawks 25-22, 19-25, 25-22, 25-17 triumph. “Last Saturday it was still kind of sore, but I’ve been doing workouts and stretches with it just to get really healthy for this match.”

South Hamilton junior Jessica Woodall reacts after popping up a Greene County attack during last night’s HOIC match in Jewell. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Cavan admits there were some low moments in the days following the injury.

“When I first got hurt I was literally crying for days because this is my senior year,” she said. “My goal, when I first got hurt, was I wanted to be 100 percent healthy by the start of conference.”

Consider it done.

South Hamilton head coach Ashley Rosenstiel could see how her team fed off Cavan’s energy, and it carried the Hawks past the Rams (5-6, 0-1 HOIC).

“She’s a great leader … she’s the one talking, she’s the one pushing our young girls,” Rosenstiel said of Cavan. “It’s so nice (to have her back). Now we always have that go-to option, no matter where she’s at on the court.”

Hailey Diersen (17) climbs the back of her South Hamilton teammate Emily Greenfield to tip the ball across the net during last night’s 3-1 victory over HOIC rival Greene County. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Cavan put Greene County on notice early with seven first-set kills, including back-to-back smashes to finish off the stanza.

The Rams answered the bell though, particularly late in the second set when they put the final six points on the scoreboard after South Hamilton evened it at 19. Consistency continues to be an issue for the Hawks, but Rosenstiel was happy with the way her team responded.

“We didn’t play bad in that (second) game, but we had a couple errors at the end,” she said. “We needed to have a strong start (in the third set) and they really responded.”

Cavan again took over late in the third set. She ripped a laser from the left side for a 22-21 lead, and another from the same spot for 23-22. She followed it with two straight aces to give South Hamilton a 2-1 advantage.

Cavan had four more kills in the fourth, and Hailey Diersen added three of her eight kills to finish off the Rams. A Diersen block put the Hawks in command for good at 7-6, and Emma Lewis followed it with a snuff of her own. Emily Greenfield’s second ace made it a three-point lead and Greene County never got any closer.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Caleigh Hewitt added six kills in the win, including three in the opening set. Jessica Woodall finished with three, and the state’s leader in aces with 54 added two more to her total. Maybe more importantly, she put the Rams on their heels every time she stepped behind the service line.

“That’s a spark right there because when a team starts to struggle with serve receive, their whole game suffers,” Rosenstiel said.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning