Some rust is to be expected as high school volleyball teams try to go from zero to 60 mph after two-plus months of summer vacation.
That was the case for Bryan on Tuesday night at Viking Gym as it swept scrappy Waller 25-18, 25-21, 25-22, opening coach Chelsie Lemley’s tenure at the helm with a victory.
“The girls had a lot of fun and they worked hard,” Lemley said. “Waller worked really hard. Those girls weren’t letting any ball die. I’m proud of our girls for working out some kinks with only five varsity returners. We have a lot of girls without a lot of varsity experience, and it was fun to watch them figure each other out and get in rhythm.”
Thursday was the first day UIL allowed teams to meet for workouts before Tuesday’s first day of games.
The prompt start to the season with minimal practice was apparent for both teams as they felt their way through the season-opening rallies, but it was the Lady Vikings who worked through it best.
A Rilee Cumpton ace for the first point of the season set the table for Bryan as it jumped to a 5-1 lead in the first set.
Kills by Savannah Bean, Kaitlyn Robertson and Makenna Tryon helped the Lady Bulldogs rally and ultimately cut the Lady Vikings advantage to 12-10 and force a timeout.
Waller kept within three points for several rallies before kills by Jadyn Driver and Heaven Dunn pushed Bryan’s lead to 18-13. A series of Lady Bulldogs miscues aided a 4-0 Bryan run that stretched the margin to 24-17 before a block by CoCo Gillett finally ended it.
“We’re a very young team,” first-year Waller coach Chris Simmons said. “Last year they graduated seven seniors and a junior, and one kid transferred. We had two returners to varsity, and they’ve played phenomenal. We’ve known all season we’re going to be a small gritty team that you just have to hang with.”
The Lady Vikings had to dig deeper in the latter two sets to get the sweep after the Lady Bulldogs jumped out to early leads in both.
A pair of aces by Teri Stanton helped Waller take a 4-0 lead in the second set before kills by Cumpton and Gillett and an ace by Cumpton got Bryan back in it. A block by Morgan Riley later tied it at 5 before a missed attack by Waller put the Lady Vikings in front.
A service error — one of 13 for Bryan — tied it again, then another missed attack by the Lady Bulldogs gave the Lady Vikings the lead for good.
Waller didn’t go away, hanging around until a double contact call on Bryan left the Lady Vikings in front 23-19. A service error got the Lady Vikings to set point, but another service error and a missed attack allowed a brief Lady Bulldogs rally. A kill by Gillett, who led Bryan with 15, ended it.
“Waller worked hard,” Lemley said. “That’s a good little team. I’m excited to watch them. I think they’ll be really successful in their season. They worked for every ball. They definitely gave us a run for our money.”
Waller again jumped to a 3-0 lead in the third set, this time taking advantage of two hitting violations on Bryan. More Bryan miscues helped the Lady Bulldogs stay in front as they took an 11-7 lead on an ace by Stanton.
The teams swapped points before a kill by Gillett sparked a 6-0 Bryan run that propelled the Lady Vikings to a 14-12 lead. Gillett had three kills and Cumpton had two aces during the run.
Waller stayed in the set, tying it at 14 and 16 before a rotation error gave the Lady Bulldogs a 17-16 lead. The teams again tied at 18 and 19 before Waller took its final lead at 20-19 on a kill by Tryon.
Driver tied it again with a kill, then a double contact call on the Lady Bulldogs gave Bryan the lead for good at 21-20. An ace by Alex Smith and a kill by Gillett helped the Lady Vikings stay in front before a Amaia Jefferson ace ended the sweep.
Cumpton finished with 18 assists and four aces, while Jefferson had a team-high 15 digs.
Bryan will begin play in the three-day Jason Landers Invitational on Thursday in Austin.