Entering play Friday night at Sealy High School, the visiting East Bernard Brahmarettes had yet to drop a set in seven matches but that was quickly changed after a sweep in favor of the host Lady Tigers.
The second set was the closest where Sealy had trailed for most of the set and used a timeout trailing 23-18. After two unanswered points, East Bernard used a timeout but the Lady Tigers continued to battle back, and thanks to a couple of key blocks from Jasmyne Joiner, tied the game at 24. Brylie Nedd then supplied two of her team-leading 14 kills to put the nail in the coffin, 26-24, in front of a lively, socially distant crowd.
“We work on a drill where we’re fighting from behind constantly and we talked about how we came back in just about every single set from a deficit that we set for ourselves,” said Sealy head coach Kim Boyd after the game. “They’re used to it in practice and they were able to keep their composure and we also talked about playing for each other together, looking at each opportunity, each serve as a new moment to really focus on something that they can do right.”
They were able to do just that and took the third set by a 25-19 score, once again capped by a Nedd kill, to hand the Brahmarettes their first loss and improve to 9-3 on the season. Earlier in the week, Caldwell handed the Lady Tigers its third loss by winning a five-set match 21-25, 25-22, 25-17, 24-26, 15-11.
“We’ve played similar teams that (East Bernard) took to three and we took them to four so we knew we should have taken those teams in three and we weren’t capitalizing and finishing the way we should have,” Boyd said. “We really talked about that throughout the last couple weeks that we can’t ever give up on a team. They’ve got just as much fight as we do if not more at that point so it really proved itself, especially in that second set today.”
The Brahmarettes fell out of the Texas Girls Coaches Association state poll after holding the No. 2 spot last week but Sealy, who received votes but wasn’t in last week’s top 10, still didn’t crack the top 15 this week.
However, a trio of Lady Tigers was recently named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association Under Armour All-America watchlist which will recognize 150 of the top volleyball players in the nation when the teams and honorable mentions are announced in November.
Seniors Ally Dickens and Brylie Nedd, as well as junior Breanna Brandes on the phenom list, were the Sealy representatives out of 169 Texans on the All-America watchlist and 239 Texans on the phenom list.
The same three student athletes also provided plenty of firepower for the Lady Tigers’ offense last week and totaled 67 kills with Brandes leading the team in assists in both games with 17 and 16 respectively. Joiner finished the week with four blocks and Julia Jurecka added a pair of blocks, Brooke Kram contributed 23 digs, Emily Luther assisted on 22 scoring plays, Alyssa Foertsch supplied 11 digs and two aces and Bailey Koy added 13 digs and an ace.
After splitting last week’s play, Sealy played host to Stafford earlier this week and is set to host Sweeny for another Friday night showdown.
“Stafford has a couple girls who play club, Sweeny had a lot of talent last year but did lose quite a few to graduation but they’re always going to be pushed to the limit of what they have and they’re going to come out strong so I’m expecting a good game out of both of them,” Boyd said of this week’s competition.
Even with a row marked off in between the spectators, both sides produced plenty of noise for the teams and provided close to a playoff atmosphere with two top teams doing battle on the court and for a moment, the masks weren’t noticed.
“It’s great, felt like we were almost not in a pandemic but lots of high energy fed into the girls, they loved it and seemed like the crowd really enjoyed seeing them put on a show,” Boyd said. “That’s the talent level that we have, we’ve just got to make sure that we maintain that same momentum from game to game.”