After losing its lone game of the first round of district play, the Sealy Lady Tiger volleyball squad ended the season on a seven-game win streak after sweeping El Campo and Navasota last week and finished the regular season with a 23-4 overall record – where 18 wins came via sweep – and a 9-1 mark in District 24-4A.
It's the best finish for a Sealy volleyball team since the 2014 and 2015 Lady Tigers finished with back-to-back 9-1 records in district play although they fell in the regional finals in both years. Jennifer Vaden led Sealy to a 32-14 overall record in 2015 and the Lady Tigers ultimately had their season ended by Liberty Hill after a 32-7 mark in 2014 and a regional final loss to Columbus.
This year, Sealy’s only district loss came to the Bellville Brahmanettes on Sept. 29 and it was avenged on Oct. 16 to even the season series. To break the tie between the cross-county rivals, both head coaches agreed to play a tie-breaking match Tuesday in Bellville. For coverage of the tie-breaker, click here.
With last Tuesday’s sweep of El Campo at home, the Lady Tigers finished with a 13-2 home record where both of the losses came during an August dual match against Industrial, the defending Class 3A state champion, and Needville, who has spent much of this season in the top spot of the Class 4A state poll as one of three unbeaten teams.
At the end of a season that had many question marks at the beginning, Sealy head volleyball coach Kim Boyd was thankful to have played matches as they were originally scheduled.
“I thought they did well, in the beginning we didn’t have many fans, so they were their own fans and cheerleaders. And then it started to grow a little bit more. Then they got to have their typical crowd of their friends, family and teachers to support them, so it was a nice turnout and a good way to end things, especially on teacher appreciation night,” Boyd said last Tuesday evening.
The Lady Tigers honored teachers throughout the day with gifts and recognition and held a moment of appreciation for educators at all levels before the teacher appreciation match got started.
El Campo started to mount a comeback late in all of the sets, although the third and final one was the closest where the Ladybirds secured their first and only lead of the night at 10-8. Sealy rallied back and tied the game at 12. El Campo made it only a 23-20 deficit late but couldn’t surpass the Lady Tigers again and fell, 25-22.
Boyd said she had confidence in her squad despite the visitors’ late rally and harked back on Sealy’s five-set win over Bellville to maintain the momentum.
“I feel like they were still confident knowing that they have the ability to play in any situation in any position at that point,” Boyd said of the third-set rally. “They keep their cool because they saw it in Bellville that if you stay calm and play your game, you’re going to see results. They knew what they had to do.”
By the end of the match, senior Brylie Nedd led the way with 11 kills and had sophomore Jasmyne Joiner (1 block) and senior Ally Dickens (1 block, 1 ace) right behind her with eight kills apiece. Junior Breanna Brandes collected 24 assists, seven digs, six kills, one block and one ace, freshman Blair Kram added 10 assists, seven digs and two aces, and junior Bailey Koy recorded 13 digs and three aces. Senior Alyssa Foertsch registered 10 digs, junior Julia Jurecka got a block and senior Brooke Kram and junior Emily Luther supplied an ace each.
It was the final home match for the six Lady Tiger seniors – Darby Sanders, Avery Oliver, Nedd, Dickens, Foertsch, and Kram – and Boyd has talked all season about their impact on the program and was happy to see them end their final regular season on a high note.
“We had a very strong first two sets, everyone was able to get into the game for the last home game and all seniors got to play so it was nice to see that,” Boyd said. “Some were playing different spots and came off the bench well and handled their business appropriately. It was a great finish for the seniors.”
Sealy wrapped up its regular season with another sweep of Navasota where Dickens led the offense with seven kills. Nedd added six kills, four digs, two aces and a block while Joiner led the team with three blocks and junior Kenna Killough registered two blocks. Brandes provided 12 assists, five kills, five digs, two aces and a block and Foertsch led the team with eight aces and added five digs. Blair Kram registered eight assists and four digs and Brooke Kram recorded five digs and four aces.
The bi-district round of the playoffs will be early next week where the top two seeds from District 24 will face the bottom two seeds from District 23 in respective matchups. The winners of those matches will face teams from either District 21 or District 22 although the final seedings were still to be determined at the beginning of the week.