Members of Wylie’s 8th-Grade A Volleyball Team have developed a strong friendship during their two years of Junior High play, and that friendship paid off this season with a great record.
The team only lost one game on its regular season schedule – to San Angelo Lee. The team also took 2nd place in the very tough Stephenville tournament and finished 3rd in the AISD tournament, where San Angelo Lee denied them a chance to play in the championship.
Sloane Ross said Lee has turned into a key rival for the Wylie 8th-graders.
“They are about the same level of skill that we are,” Sloane said. “They really challenge us and make us better.”
Her teammate Cortney House agreed.
“They always play pretty well,” she said. “I think the pressure of playing them gets to us. They are really competitive for us.”
Lee handed Wylie its only regular season loss and then beat the Lady Bulldogs again in the AISD tournament by only two points.
“That game was a lot closer than the first one,” Sloane said. “It was a very good game. We had gotten a lot more experience and had gotten a lot better.”
Both Cortney and Sloane said the strength of their team is their bond with each other.
“We are definitely best friends,” Sloane said. “If you asked me who my best friends are, my teammates would all be on that list. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We level each other out.”
Sloane said the team really grew during the season in large part thanks to the teaching of Coach Amanda Gay.
“She’s a coach and she’s tough, but she’s always there for you,” Sloane said. “She builds you up. She’s also hilarious.”
Cortney said the season has prepared the girls for high school volleyball.
“We’ve improved a lot since the beginning of the season,” Cortney said. “It’s been a really great season.”
Members of the Wylie 8th-Grade A Team are Avery Wimberly, Sloane Ross, Ella Scott, Hailey Hicks, Leighton Alford, Cortney House, Kylie Barnes, Shaelyn Ward, Tatum McClellan, Rylie Hays and Mason Lambert.
8th B Team
The Wylie 8th-grade B Team won the championship at the San Angelo Tournament and only lost one game in regular season play en route to a very successful year.
The team’s lone loss in the regular season came against San Angelo Lee – a game that teammates Hayley Fowler and Emily Daniell both thought they should have won.
The team won the first set, and then lost the next two.
“We thought we had it,” Hayley said. “We got too ahead of ourselves. We definitely should have won.
But the team redeemed itself by easily winning the championship at the tournament in San Angelo.
“We wanted that gold really bad,” Emily said. “We did go into a third set in the championship but it wasn’t even close.”
Emily said the team worked well together all season long.
“I think we have a lot of teamwork,” Emily said. “We’ve come together as a team. Coach (Adrienne) Ruffin has a taught us a lot. She’s very fun, but when it’s time to get serious, it’s time to get serious.”
Hayley agreed that a strength of the team is its teamwork.
“We are really good friends,” Hayley said. “When one of us gets down, the rest of us pick each other up.”
Emily agreed, saying the girls are friends outside of volleyball.
“We help each other outside of school – not just on the court,” Emily said. “We’ve all been together since kindergarten. We’ve gone to school together a long time.”
Members of the B Team are Abby Bonneville, Ciara O’Neill, Kayla Medina, Hayley Fowler, Olivia Lynch, Sunny Seyda, Mia Hernandez, Chloe Finley, Marlee Goode, Melissa Stump, Abby Swanson, Emily Daniel and Bayleigh Smith.
7th-grade A Team
The 7th-grade A Volleyball Team finished its regular season with only one loss and also won the championship in the Abilene Tournament at Craig Middle School.
“It was fun,” said 7th-grader Lexi Miller. “It was a really great year.”
Lexi said the team learned a lot this season and really came together in their first year of Bulldog volleyball.
“I think we have a lot of teamwork, and we know each other well,” Lexi said. “We work together really well.”
Teammate Sophie Sanford agreed and said the team never quit trying.
“Whenever it gets really hard, we fight really hard,” Sophie said. “We fight to the end.”
The team’s lone regular season loss came against Brownwood by only two points. The girls said Brownwood was just a bit better than them in that game.
“They had good hits and good serves,” Sophie said.
“I think we played really good in that game,” Lexi said. “We tried really hard.”
Sophie said the best thing about their first year of volleyball was “getting to know each other and having good coaches and having the experience of playing school volleyball.”
Lexi said the girls learned a great deal from the experience.
“Over the year, we’ve gotten a lot better,” she said. “At the start of the year, we weren’t very good but as we went through the year, we got a lot better.”
A lot of that credit goes to their coach, Abbey Wartes.
“She’s awesome,” Sophie said. “She works us really hard which is why we’ve gotten better.”
Members of the 7th-Grade A Team are: Elle Burke, JAron Mcaden, Lynlee Grubbs, Trinity Alcorn, Emma Worrell, Kelsey Ingram, Lexie Bayouth, Kloie Robinson, Lexi Miller, Sophie Sanford, Kenzie Benham, Lilly Doby and Elena Hoffman.