By Dylan Wilhelm • Of the News-Register • 

Haley Ayala combined leadership with great play for Sheridan volleyball

Rusty Rae/News-Register##Haley Ayala hopes to continue her volleyball career next year at the collegiate level.
Rusty Rae/News-Register##Haley Ayala hopes to continue her volleyball career next year at the collegiate level.

After qualifying for the state postseason last year, the Spartans were excited not only to get back, but potentially make some noise in the 20-team bracket.

What Ayala did not know at the time was that she had just finished her final high school volleyball game.

Later in the week, she tore her meniscus in practice, an unceremonious end to her senior season. She plans to have surgery after the basketball season.

While one player is not the be-all, end-all of a team in any sport, Ayala’s presence was missed on the court, as Sheridan lost its final four games and missed out on a berth to the state postseason.

Ayala was forced to watch from the bench, a tough way to finish her high school career.

“Having to play teams that we’ve beaten already, and then having to play them again and losing, it just kind of sucks because I know we could have beat them,” Ayala said. “I still wish I could have been playing instead of sitting on the bench.”

As a three-sport athlete, Ayala has always been on the move. When asked what she liked to do outside of sports, she struggled to come up with an answer.

“I don’t know,” Ayala said while laughing, noting that sports are “her thing” and that it takes up most of her days, before noting she enjoys spending time with her family.

Ayala was able to share the court with both her older sister, Lily, and her younger sister, Chloe, last season, something she said was special to her and her family.

“We were a sister trio,” Ayala said. “So we all got to do that together and to have my dad there watching us and stuff. It’s just like, so cool having us on the court at the same time.”

Lily is now studying at Linfield, so the two are still able to visit and see each other regularly.

For Sheridan coach Dana Greene, Ayala has not only been one of her best performers on the court, but she was also a great leader and teammate.

“I’ll also miss having a leader on the court like that,” Greene said. “Because a lot of times you don’t have both of those in one. You don’t have the girl who’s out there, who is the best player and can also be the best encourager and teammate as well.

“I really leaned on her for the past four years to be that guide for the team. And it’s going to be really, really weird without her next going next year.”

Greene said that in her 13 years at Sheridan, she has never seen the crowd feed off a player the way that they fed off of Ayala.

“I have not had a player that has made the crowd that excited,” Greene said.

It wasn’t just Sheridan taking notice either, as Ayala has earned three straight first-team All-League honors after earning second-team honors her freshman year.

She has also been recognized at the state level, earning second-team All-State honors last season and earning an honorable mention this year.

Ayala’s is hoping to continue her volleyball career at the next level.

Ayala says she hopes to play at a four-year university while studying criminal justice, a topic that she says she has always found interesting, citing her love of mysteries.

Greene is hopeful that Ayala will get the chance to continue her volleyball career at the collegiate level, but is confident that she will find success in anything she does.

As for Sheridan volleyball, Greene will continue to coach and elevate the players that come through, but Ayala will leave behind big shoes to fill.

“It’s going to be a long time, I think, before we get another player like Haley in here.”

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