Ryan understood the circumstances of Tuesday’s night’s District 5-5A match against the Lewisville Lady Farmers.
The Lady Raiders entered the match without a win in district play. Lewisville’s lone 5-5A win came against Ryan in the first meeting between the two teams, and with two tough matches against Flower Mound and Coppell remaining in the season, it seemed Ryan’s best shot at avoiding a winless district season was a win against Lewisville at home.
Without senior hitter Hailey Foster for the second-straight match, Ryan fell to Lewisville 25-14, 19-25, 25-20, 25-20.
“I thought we were going to win,” junior outside hitter Kodi Pettigrew said. “I was telling the whole team to play with confidence, and they were playing so much better.”
Foster was on the sidelines in crutches, with a black, plastic boot on her right foot.
Foster, one of Ryan’s leading hitters, fractured her right ankle during warm-ups of last Friday’s match against Hebron and will miss Ryan’s final two matches.
Pettigrew stepped up in Foster’s absence, providing leadership for a young, struggling Ryan squad.
Pettigrew had a team-high 11 kills, while Delaney Bunselmeyer added five kills for the Lady Raiders (6-23, 0-8 district). Sydney Lundgren had a team-high eight digs for the Lady Raiders, while libero Arissa Chappell added six digs.
Ryan head coach Cindy Williams said Pettigrew played a lot smarter and was more offensive-minded in her attack.
Pettigrew said she understood that with Foster out, she needed to increase her involvement and her production.
“She’s the captain of our team, but I knew I also was a leader even though she’s the captain,” Pettigrew said. “Her being out, I knew that I had to step up. A lot of the girls look up to me for confidence, and they know when we’re down I need to pick them up.”
Coming into Tuesday’s match, Ryan had not won a single set in its seven previous district matches.
If there were any positives to be taken out of the match, it came in the second set. Ryan nursed a seven-point lead before the Lady Farmers cut the gap to one at 19-18.
From there, the crowd and the Lady Raiders’ bench sensed its first set victory looming as Ryan opened up a five-point lead and had set point.
When Kassie Torres’ kill closed out the set, the bleachers roared, the players screamed and the bench leaped off its collective seats and joined in the fray.
Ryan seemed to have the momentum it needed to win its first district match. Williams said the win in the second set gave the Lady Raiders a confidence boost and it sparked her team.
The Lady Raiders tested Lewisville in the next two sets, with Ryan constantly on the verge of equaling the Lady Farmers. But Lewisville withstood Ryan’s rallies and pulled away at the end of each set.
“I think we just got a little nervous, when it came to catch-up time, and we started making mental errors,” Williams said.
With two games left in the season, Ryan has the intimidating task of defeating either Coppell or Flower Mound to salvage at least one district win this season.
“We just have to keep instilling that in them to believe, and I think they actually did see a little bit of that tonight,” Williams said. “I just keep telling them to believe and not give up.
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .