Bryan County volleyball coach Melissa Adams was disappointed at losing but she was by no means discouraged by her fledgling Redskins team’s performance.
Temple, advancing to the Elite Eight for the second straight year, swept the Redskins 3-0 last Saturday in the second round of the GHSA Class A state playoffs winning by the scores of 25-22, 27-25 and 25-18.
In only its second season of varsity competition Bryan County was a No. 1 seed thanks to winning the Region 3A championship and had swept past Taylor County, 3-0, last Wednesday to find itself hosting the No. 2 seed Tigers.
“The first two games they (Redskins) were impressive,” Adams said of her team.
“We were right there until the very end.
“Our players were able to keep their composure, they were able to do their jobs, keep going with what they were supposed to do,” Adams said. “In the third game Temple was able to get some separation and we seemed to get a little antsy.”
If Bryan County was nervous it didn’t show as it jumped out to a 9-1 lead in the opening set, rattling off seven straight points with Taryn Avramidis serving, before the Tigers called a time out to catch their breath and figure out what was happening.
Volleyball is unlike most sports in that it can be a game of runs and Temple responded to tie it, 9-9, and from there it was a see-saw affair. Temple managed to forge a 20-16 lead only to see the Redskins rally to go up, 21-20, but the more experienced Tigers didn’t rattle and closed on a 5-1 surge to win.
The second set was much like the first in that each team would go up only to see the other rally to tie or go ahead.
Temple, for example, had an 18-10 lead and appeared to be on the verge of turning it into an easy win only to see the Redskins got on a 13-3 for a 23-21 lead. Up 25-24 Bryan County could not get the point it needed to close the deal and the Tigers scored the final three points for a commanding 2-0 lead. Despite being in a deep hole Adams reminded her team it was in the same situation in the region tournament championship match with Woodville Tompkins and rallied to win the next three sets.
“Volleyball is a hard game to maintain momentum,” Adams said. “There are so many swings. We kind of focused our season more on our mental game and just staying up. You’ve got to get over the last one (set), you’ve got to look forward to the next one (win or lose).
“We have worked mentally on staying where we’re supposed to be instead of letting the mental errors bring us down.”
Like a shark circling in the water Temple wasted no time in taking charge as it bolted out to a 16-6 lead only to see the Redskins refuse to roll over and die.
With Reese Raeburn serving Bryan County rattled off eight straight points before Temple broke serve when talented middle hitter Kayla Samuel got a spike.
The Redskins scored the next two points to close to within 17-16 but the Tigers closed it out with an 8-2 run.
With no seniors on the roster expectations will be at a higher level next season and Adams said she believes her team will be ready for the challenge.
“Our girls are getting to where they have a higher volleyball IQ, where they can see what’s happening and read a set a little better,” Adams said. “I saw them making adjustments today without me having to tell them.
“We’re coming back 100 percent so that just means we’re going to be that much better next year. We’ll have the same players but we won’t be the same team.”