ARGYLE — After Liberty Christian dropped the second set of its nondistrict volleyball match against Ryan on Tuesday night, first-year Liberty coach Justin Else and his team walked across the sideline before they huddled prior to the third set.
Else, with his sleeves rolled up to his elbows, asked his team for more intensity.
The Lady Warriors resoundingly responded by jumping on Ryan in the following two sets and picked up a 25-20, 23-25, 25-20, 25-18 victory at home.
Else said his squad fought through a lull in the second set to pick up the win.
“That wasn’t the team that normally shows up,” Else said. “The team that normally shows up came out and played in the third and fourth [sets].”
Ali Eager led the Lady Warriors with 10 kills, while Maddie Grubbs came through with eight kills and Olivia Asprey notched seven kills in the victory for Liberty.
Asprey came up with kills in crucial situations to help stifle Ryan’s hopes of winning the match.
“She’s stepped it up this year,” Else said. “It’s her senior year and she’s going to take over. She’s doing a good job.”
In the third set, Liberty scored five straight points to open up a six-point advantage that gave the Lady Warriors a large enough buffer to win the set.
The fourth set was hotly contested early on. Ryan and Liberty were tied at 11 before the Lady Warriors reeled off seven straight points to help secure the victory.
With Liberty one point away from notching the win, Ryan coach Cindy Williams called a timeout.
Last weekend in the Arlington tournament, Williams did the same thing against Keller Fossil Ridge and the Lady Raiders (6-18) rallied to earn their only win of the tournament.
So with defeat one point away, Williams asked for a 60-second breather.
“I always feel like there’s hope that we can fight back and win it,” Williams said. “Today we didn’t, because we made unforced errors again, which has been our big Achilles’ heel our whole season — just making the same unforced errors that cost us points.”
Senior Susanna Strange led Ryan with 17 kills. Strange also had three blocks and eight errors in the match. Junior Arissa Chappell and freshman Brynn Warnack each had 17 digs in the loss.
For the second straight week, Ryan wasn’t able to carry any positive momentum it had from a weekend tournament into a midweek match.
Last week, the Lady Raiders were swept by Argyle, one of the top teams in Class 3A. This week, it was Argyle’s private school that dealt Ryan the defeat.
“It’s one of those things where you get to that point where we’re satisfied right there, and then we try to come back and play and we don’t come back and play like we just finished,” Williams said.
Williams shook up the lineup Tuesday night and inserted Warnack and sophomore Elizabeth Holberg into the rotation. Warnack responded well and was a co-leader in digs.
The Ryan head coach said the players she needs to become leaders before District 5-5A action begins have not assumed their respective roles.
“The people who are veterans, the people who have been here before, they should be stepping up to the plate and they should be leading the team,” Williams said. “And not always are they getting that done."
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.