For Guyer sophomore Emily Hill, last season was a bit of a wasted one on the volleyball court.
Expected to be a freshman contributor on last year’s team, Hill was sidelined before District 5-4A play began with a severe ankle sprain and did not return until the postseason.
In Tuesday’s season opener against Mansfield Legacy at Wildcat Gymnasium, Hill made up for lost time as she racked up a team-high 17 kills to go with an ace in Guyer’s 25-18, 25-20, 25-13 win over the Lady Broncos, a Class 4A area finalist from a year ago that has eight seniors returning.
“She is one of my players who’s just a go-getter,” Guyer coach Addie Mack said of Hill. “She wants the ball. I have her playing all the way around the court because her back-row play, offensively, helps us generate points. Being an outside and a middle, her movement and quickness all help us with our game plan and what we want to do out there.”
Many of Guyer’s hitters had a field day against Legacy, as the Lady Wildcats posted a team hitting percentage of .667.
Sydney Reyes and Mikayla Yates chipped in with 11 kills apiece and Tabitha Spray had seven kills without an error. Senior setter Madison Walford paced the offense with 27 assists.
“The girls performed well,” Mack said. “We really tried to not focus on the fact that it was our first match of the season but just to have a good time and think about what our goals were for this particular game. I think they were more focused on that versus it being our first game and at home with the crowd and all.”
After rolling to relatively easy wins in the first two sets, the way the Lady Wildcats came out in the final set was a positive sign for Mack.
After Legacy had closed Guyer’s 23-15 lead in the second set to 23-19, Mack called a timeout to talk things over with her players.
“The end of Game 2, we got really sloppy and they got really sloppy when the score hadn’t reached 25 yet,” Mack said. “We pulled them to the side and had a really good conversation with them. We just told them that wasn’t what Guyer volleyball was about.”
Whatever Mack said worked, as the Lady Wildcats went on to claim the second set and race out to an 8-0 lead in the third before rolling to the 25-13 victory to complete the three-set sweep.
“For them to come out and be so strong and receive that criticism and say, ‘We’re going to step up,’ I’m immensely proud of them,” Mack said.
Guyer will play in the Ryan Kickoff Classic this weekend before returning home Tuesday for a match against Burleson Centennial, and Guyer’s third-year coach said she was ready to have the season opener behind her.
“We have a pretty tough schedule ahead of us, so for them to come out strong against Legacy, who’s always been a really strong team, was big,” Mack said. “I’m excited that we won Match 1 and we’re on the right side of the column.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.