Regular season interscholastic competition returned to Sealy High School last week when a pair of volleyball dual matches were hosted in the gymnasium.
The Lady Tigers won their first two matches by sweeping Boling and West Columbia to open the season on Tuesday before Needville and Industrial came for a Friday night showdown and took both of those matches. To round out the first week of competition, Sealy took down Hallettsville in four sets and swept Smithville at a Saturday dual match hosted by Hallettsville.
In the season-opening matches, the Lady Tigers were propelled to victory behind a valiant effort from the front row with seniors Brylie Nedd (20 kills) and Ally Dickens (16 kills) leading the way in more regards than one.
“I have a lot of seniors on the front row and they have multiple years at this level as well so they’re doing what we expect of them,” said head coach Kim Boyd after the Aug. 11 season opener. “They’re also doing a great job leading the younger ones, they’re talking to the underclassmen about what to be calling while at the net, always being focused on the volleyball talk. … From the outside looking in, they look like they’re just super strong power hitters but they’re also being great leaders as well.”
Another key cog in the offensive machine in the first two contests was junior Breanna Brandes who totaled 24 assists, eight digs, seven aces and five kills in front of a socially distant crowd of parents.
“Especially with low numbers in the crowd, they know that they are going to be their biggest cheerleaders,” Boyd said of the team. “Our bench is known for having lots of juice and that’s something that translates onto the court; the more juice and the more fire that they have, the more you’re going to see it on the court.”
The juice came through a little too late on Friday and Sealy fell in straight sets to the Needville Lady Jays, a former district-mate of Sealy’s. The Lady Tigers were unable to close out a win against the defending Class 3A state champion Industrial Cobras after taking the first two sets.
In the first match on Friday, Needville took the first two sets by allowing a combined 20 points in two sets but the Lady Tigers battled back to come within points of extending the match but ultimately fell 25-22 although that set featured more of the play Boyd was looking for.
“They knew the third set with Needville is exactly what we should have been doing from the start,” Boyd said after Friday’s matches. “There’s no explanation for lack of communication or trust with one another from the first two sets because the way we played in the third set was completely different from how we showed up.”
The energy was brought at the start of the meeting with Industrial and Sealy took the first two sets by 25-19 and 25-17 scores.
“Came out in the second match with lots of hype, they looked exactly the way we had been practicing and what we expect,” Boyd said of the beginning of the meeting with the Cobras. “We had players playing in a new rotation that they haven’t practiced, and they really stepped up and led the group like they were supposed to.”
The Cobras responded by racing out to early leads in sets three (11-3) and four (9-1) en route to winning by 25-22 and 25-23 scores to force a fifth and decisive set. The Lady Tigers were unable to reach a lead of their own and eventually fell in the final set, 15-9, to suffer their second loss on the evening.
Sealy had a quick rebound and took its two Saturday matches by maintaining the energy all the way through the end of the match.
The Lady Tigers won the opening set in both of their contests and although host Hallettsville took the second set 25-17, Sealy responded by winning sets three and four by 25-13 and 25-23 scores. The middle set was the closest against Smithville but the Lady Tigers closed things with a 25-10 third set to improve the overall record to 4-2 entering this week of play.
Through the first week of the season, Nedd led the kill department with 78, Alyssa Foertsch recorded 54 digs, Brandes assisted on 85 scoring plays and served 12 aces while Julia Jurecka led the team with 10 blocks.
Earlier in the week, Sealy traveled to Giddings and on Friday the Lady Tigers will travel to Columbus for singular matches before hosting Schulenburg and Snook this Saturday for another dual match.
Only players’ parents will be allowed to attend Sealy’s home game on Saturday and tickets must be purchased before the end of the day Thursday as there will not be tickets available at the door according to Sealy ISD athletics.
“All spectators and workers will be asked COVID-19 screening questions when entering the facility,” the district’s update says. “Spectators can only sit where there is no blue tape present. Masks must be worn at all times (unless playing), including bench players, workers, coaches, officials and spectators. Entrance will be on the home side of the gym and exit will be on the visitor side of the gym. No re-entry will be allowed.”