Following Ryan’s 25-16, 25-18, 25-6 loss to Flower Mound Marcus on Tuesday night, Ryan head volleyball coach Cindy Williams mentioned glimpses of a team playing well, glimpses that have been rare in a loss-laden season.
The Lady Raiders just haven’t been able to put together enough glimpses for a District 5-5A win to materialize.
Ryan (6-21, 0-6 district) lost its first match of the second-half of district play on a night where the Lady Raiders were competitive through two sets before faltering in the third.
Ryan still has yet to win a single set in district play and has been swept in all six of its District 5-5A matches.
Junior Susanna Strange had a team-high six kills, while senior Hailey Foster had four kills. Freshman Sydney Lundgren had 13 assists for Ryan.
Junior outside hitter Kodi Pettigrew said the team isn’t necessarily getting fed up with the losses, but the team is getting tired of the lack of success.
“We know we have some potential, and we’re not playing to it,” Pettigrew said.
One of those glimpses Williams referenced came in the second set of Tuesday’s match. A ball was pounded across the net and into the path of junior Shelby Smith, and in what seemed like a split-second, Smith deftly deflected the ball upward, keeping the point alive.
The Lady Raiders won the point, and as the referee awarded them the point, Smith was mobbed by her teammates before she looked toward the sideline and smiled, her face completely red.
The point was indicative of what it looked like when Ryan, at times, did play well against Marcus, which is now 3-3 in district play. Marcus’ coaching staff, led by head coach Jennifer Cron, said it was unaware of the team’s overall record.
The Lady Raiders opened the match with a lot of intensity that translated to a 14-13 lead in the first set. Then, the Lady Marauders scored nine straight points before winning the first set 25-16. Ryan never led in the second set, but it did enough to hang around and keep things competitive in a 25-18 set for Marcus.
Then came the third set.
Marcus scored the set’s first 13 points before Ryan finally scored a point on a cross-court kill by Strange.
Williams said she’s tried different things to help the Lady Raiders break its losing skid. She’s moved sophomore Arissa Chappell to the libero position and moved Lundgren up from the junior varsity. Williams said she’s also tinkered with the lineups and rotations.
And maybe most importantly, Williams has tried to get her team to believe it can compete in one of the toughest districts in the state.
“It’s just trying to get them to believe that we can play at this level. So over and over we talk about pride,” Williams said. “It’s a big deal with us now, pride. Play with some pride, show some class and keep improving.
“But it’s tough because you know walking into it that you’re playing teams that overall have a little more height than we do.”
Ryan has four district matches left on the schedule, four opportunities for the Lady Raiders to win a game in district play, and from there, maybe win a match.
“It’s hard to keep them up day after day, practice after practice,” Williams said. “It’s just tough because we’re not there. We’re just not there yet.”
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .