TERRE HAUTE —
Imagine the biggest game of the year — maybe of your life — and facing you, playing for the opposing team, is your own brother or sister.
That’s what the Harbaugh brothers face tonight. And it’s what Casey and Taylor Hayne faced in the big North-South volleyball match of 2007.
“It was something we definitely didn’t talk about at home,” recalled Taylor, speaking of the weeks leading up to the match. There was no need to talk about it. Apart from a few little jokes here and there, no one really wanted to dwell on the subject, she said.
In the fall of 2007, Casey was a senior at Terre Haute North while Taylor was a freshman on the rival South Vigo squad. It was the sisters’ first-and-only time to square off on opposite teams.
This was no small deal. In addition to the crosstown rivalry, the Hayne sisters are intensely competitive. By all accounts, the whole family is, from card games to volleyball matches, winning means a lot.
“Our family is fiercely competitive,” said older sister Madison, who is now Madison Minnick, head coach of the South volleyball team. She was an assistant coach for the Braves back then. “All of us always want to win,” she said.
Just as the Harbaugh family revolves around football, volleyball is central in the Hayne household. All three girls played the sport growing up and in college. Taylor now plays for Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky, where she is a sophomore. Casey, who graduated from college in May, is now coaching the junior varsity squad at South.
But the big game may have had the most meaning for Casey. As a senior, it was her last chance to play in a North-South match up. Speaking to a Tribune-Star reporter before the game, her competitive spirit came through. “Just to be a part of a team that beats South” would be nice, she said at the time.
Even apart from Casey, Taylor and Madison, there was pressure to go around that night. The girls’ parents, Allen and Mara Hayne, themselves former South Vigo swim team standouts, were under their own kind of scrutiny. Everyone was asking them which team they were backing, Casey recalled.
“That was a tough game for us,” said Mara, noting she and Allen sat away from the North fans and away from the South fans. “We were pretty quiet and reserved that night.”
Of course, everyone knew, at the end of the night, one Hayne girl would be happy and one would be disappointed by the outcome. “Volleyball never ends in a tie,” Madison said.
And it didn’t.
South, which had the stronger team that season, won handily. But, fortunately, both sisters played well.
“It was tough for Casey,” Madison recalled. “But they both played exceptionally well.”
And both sisters moved on quickly after the match was over.
“It never came home with them,” Mara said.
The 2007 North-South contest was memorable for much more than the Hayne sister rivalry. It was also the first time the teams got together to turn the annual event into a fundraiser. That year, the squads raised money — more than $13,000 — for the American Cancer Society in honor of a junior on the South squad who was battling leukemia. All the players and about half the approximately 3,000 fans at the match wore T-shirts reading: “Two teams — One Goal.”
“It takes a little of the sting out of” the loss, remembering the money they raised for the ACS, Casey recalled. But, “of course, you want to win the North-South game.”
Despite their strong competitive streaks, the Hayne girls continue to support and care for each other on-and-off the volleyball court. And Taylor, who is still followed by her family at her collegiate games, appreciates growing up with two talented big sisters as role models, she said.
“It ranks up there with the ones I’ll always remember,” Taylor said of the 2007 North-South contest. Playing against her sister, the cross-town rivalry and the successful fundraiser all added up to make the night something special. “It all made for a great experience,” she said.
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or email@example.com.