The Bryan volleyball team had a big advantage in the stands, but in the end, A&M Consolidated fed off its own energy to pull away.
Consol beat Bryan 25-20, 17-25, 22-25, 32-30, 15-7 in a thrilling nondistrict match Tuesday at Viking Gym.
“Playing with a bunch of energy on the court helps in our benefit,” Consol co-head coach Colten Conner said. “It showed in that game when we started trying to figure out what was going on, and it got in our head. That’s kind of when we went down. But when we started supporting each other, that’s when we started picking back up as a team.”
Down 2-1 in the match, junior opposite-side hitter Emma Pahl stepped up in a big way in the fourth set with eight kills as Consol (8-3) battled back from the brink of defeat. Pahl’s two kills sparked an 8-0 run that gave the Lady Tigers a 24-21 lead. The Lady Vikings (8-10) tied it at 24 on a kill by senior outside hitter Coco Gillett that electrified the Bryan crowd. The set continued as neither team could secure the requisite two-point lead, but Consol finally took control, tying the set at 30 on a kill before pulling away thanks in part to a diving dig by junior outside hitter Jordyn English that popped over the net between Bryan players.
The Lady Tigers never trailed in the fifth set, using a 7-1 run to help seal the victory.
“We just talked to them about one point at a time,” Conner said. “That’s all we could focus on. We can’t worry about what’s going on two points ago. It just comes down to what’s happening next.”
Gillett had 28 kills, five aces and 19 digs to lead Bryan. Also for the Lady Vikings, sophomore setter Rilee Cumpton had 11 kills and 14 digs. Senior outside hitter Jadyn Driver had nine kills. Junior setter Megan Vaughan had 47 assists, while senior libero Amaia Jefferson added 10 digs and Heaven Dunn three blocks.
“We have some girls that need the varsity experience,” Bryan head coach Chelsie Lemley said. “This is what high school volleyball’s about, these tight, close rivalry matches, and I think it was good for them, win or loss, to gain that experience in front of a crowd with the big lights on.”
For Consol, senior outside hitter Sutton Springer and sophomore setter Ava Derbes each had 14 kills, while Pahl had 13. Derbes also had 33 assists and an ace. Senior Sydney McCorkle had 24 assists, while senior libero Maddie McKinney had an ace and provided key leadership on the floor.
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“Maddie definitely carries us on defense,” Consol co-head coach Kailey Hicks said. “She did a great job tonight like she always does. We want everybody leading, everybody working together, so she did a good job.”
Consol’s coaches also pointed to the play of junior middle blocker Cierra Gilbert.
“She’s wanting to get all the extra reps,” Conner said. “She’s asking a bunch of questions, how to go the extra mile. That’s what we need out of a junior. Going into her senior year and finishing out this year, we couldn’t ask for more than that.”
Consol got off to a hot start in the first set, but Bryan used a 5-0 run to take a 17-15 lead before the Lady Tigers got back on track, using a 6-1 lead to take a 21-19 lead then holding on to take the set.
The Lady Vikings trailed again early in the second set but went on a 10-1 run to take a 15-9 lead, never letting Consol within striking distance to even the match.
Bryan jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the third set and held on, even as Consol mounted a comeback, cutting its deficit to two late in the set before the Lady Vikings claimed it.
Both teams will return to action Thursday in the Leander tournament....