Through the first 23 points played in Ryan’s District 5-5A volleyball match against Coppell on Tuesday night, the Lady Raiders maintained a narrow deficit against the defending Class 5A state champions.
Then, as Coppell picked up steam and won the first set, the Cowgirls showed why they’re considered as one of the state’s elite. Coppell rolled and defeated Ryan 25-12, 25-4, 25-5 at Billy Ryan Gym.
The Cowgirls came into the contest ranked No. 7 in Class 5A by the Texas Girls Coaches Association. Coppell used a 6-0 run to close out the first set, setting the Cowgirls up to dominate in the second and third sets.
Ryan outside hitter Hailey Foster said the Lady Raiders were nervous going up against the defending state champs.
“I could tell we were all still nervous, because we had never faced a team of that level,” Foster said. “Of all the teams in our district, they’ve been the best. So it was a new kind of game for the majority of us, because we’re a young team and it was a new pace of game. It was a new way to play, and we still have to get used to it.”
The district Foster referred to is considered by many as one of the best in the state, with both Flower Mound Marcus and Coppell reaching the regional semifinals in last year’s playoffs.
Ryan (6-23, 0-4 district) remains winless in 5-5A and has yet to win a set in any of its four district matches.
Foster led the Lady Raiders with six kills, while Susanna Strange had three. For Coppell (38-3, 3-1 district), Erica Bohannon had a team-high 10 kills, while Kate Dicken added five.
Bohannon and Chiaka Ogbogu were two of three current Coppell players named to last year’s all-state tournament team.
For Tuesday night’s match, Ryan head coach Cindy Williams added a couple of new wrinkles to the lineup.
Sophomore Arissa Chappell traded in the team’s blue jersey for a white one and replaced Domino Birze at the libero position. Chappell played the libero position for a couple weeks last season, where she anchored Ryan’s back line. To replace Chappell as the team setter, Williams brought up freshman Sydney Lundgren and inserted her in the starting lineup.
Williams said her team was undone by some bad blocking up front at the net and a lack of communication on defense. Williams said the goal coming into the match was to hit the ball high and aim for the back corners of Coppell’s side of the court.
“I think we kind of lost sight of that, and that’s when we went in another direction and hit a dead end,” Williams said.
After the Cowgirls won the first set, they started the second set by scoring 19 of the first 21 points. In the third set, Coppell repeated the effort, scoring 14 of the first 16 points.
As the second set dragged on and the deficit grew, Ryan’s players grew quieter with each point. That trend continued into the final set, where the Lady Raiders were held to five points.
“I don’t know who they’re looking to now, but they look at one person mess up and it just trickles, just like we talked about at the beginning of the year,” Williams said. “It just trickles on through to the rest of the team.”
The Lady Raiders close out the first half of the district schedule at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Flower Mound.
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is email@example.com .