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Volleyball: Braswell one of many early storylines as tournaments resume

Apparently Braswell isn't exuding a wow factor when it first steps on the court. 

According to coach Allison Irvin, several opponents insinuated recently the Lady Bengals — at first glance, anyway — don't look like a team that can put up much of a fight. After all, they have only four seniors, they aren't very big and they are in Year 2 of varsity play. 

But opponents are learning that, when lining up against Braswell, they'd better come to play.

"Everyone comes up to me and says, 'Your girls don't look very big, but they never give up; they're scrappy, smart and disciplined,'" Braswell coach Allison Irvin said. "It's almost like people are saying we don't look like we are going to be competitive at all. But we are."

Braswell is 6-3 entering Thursday's tournament at Richardson Berkner and has wins against Krum and Carthage. Both those teams were in the Class 4A region tournament last year. Braswell also has wins against Little Elm, Mesquite Poteet and Texas High.

The Lady Bengals placed second out of 28 teams at last weekend's tournament in Garland, losing to unbeaten Sachse in the championship game. 

"We had a similar record last year at this point, but it wasn't against the same types of teams," Irvin said. "The competition is much harder, and because we don't have a lot of depth, we need everyone to show up and perform."

Despite losing in four sets Tuesday to Frisco Lone Star, the Lady Bengals dropped the first set 34-32 and won the second 25-20 before dropping the final two, 25-17 and 25-18. Kinley Howard led the team with eight kills, and Jaci Sims, Jalen Ward and Marijah Miller all had six kills. Ward added 24 assists, and Maddi Brown chipped in 25 digs.

"It makes me excited about the direction we are going in," Irvin said. "These girls are still young, but they feel like a varsity team now. And they are beginning to see what we are capable of."

Ryan found another setter

Ryan hitters Taylor Terry and Tori Kelly have dominated headlines as of late, and for good reason. But one of the unsung heroes for the Lady Raiders' 8-3 start is senior setter Taylor Brann. 

Brann has filled big shoes following the graduation of star setter Brynn Warnack, the program's all-time assists leader with 2,050. Last year, Warnack set a season record with 1,233 assists. Brann has 263 assists through 11 matches this season, including 69 in Tuesday's wins against Aubrey and Dallas Woodrow Wilson. 

"She's not your typical setter, and we've been able to throw a lot at her," Ryan coach Nicole Hervey said. "Taylor communicates better than anyone out there on the court. She's really stepped up."

Freshman duo leads Guyer surge

At 8-2, Guyer is off to the strong start it was hoping for in the state's largest classification. And the Lady Wildcats are doing it with two freshmen.

Middle blocker Jordyn Williams has 55 kills through the first 10 matches of the season, while Brooke Slusser, a setter, has 104 assists to go with 34 kills. Both newcomers are part of a balanced attack that has Guyer wearing down opponents from all positions.

Guyer is coming off a sweep of Frisco on Tuesday and will open the Northwest ISD tournament Thursday with a big match against Trophy Club Nelson. The tournament features many of the top teams in Class 6A, including defending state champion Hebron.

Wallace, Davis lead new-look Argyle

Argyle, the No. 7 team in the Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 4A poll, has a new head coach and new players all over the court a year after playing in its third straight state title match. 

Returners Danielle Davis and Alyssa Wallace helped the new-look Lady Eagles pick up a sweep of Class 5A Little Elm on Tuesday, pushing the team's record to 5-4 entering the Northwest ISD tournament on Thursday.  Davis, a senior, had 12 kills and 15 digs in the win against Little Elm and has filled in at setter and outside hitter. She has 63 kills, eight blocks, 92 digs and six aces this year.

Wallace, a junior libero, has 154 digs and 14 aces. Teammate Paxton McGlinch, a junior, has 62 kills, eight aces, eight blocks and 79 digs. All three are back from last year's team, which lost to Bushland in the 4A state final. 

Liberty Christian's Simms on a roll

Liberty Christian senior Sabrina Simms is proving to be one of the area's top players.

Simms is committed to Oklahoma and plays outside hitter and middle blocker for the Lady Warriors, who at 7-2 already have knocked off the likes of Denton and Krum. In that stretch, Simms has racked up 74 kills, 58 digs and 14 1/2 blocks to go with 12 service aces.

STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.