Glue Of The Game: Sophomore Bryant Next In Line At George Ranch
AFTER GRADUATING NINE SENIORS, INCLUDING FOUR ELITE NCAA DIVISION I TALENTS, GEORGE RANCH’S VOLLEYBALL PROGRAM ENTERED THIS SEASON IN A STATE OF TRANSITION.
Allie Sczech (Baylor), Logan Lednicky (Texas A&M), Avery Shimaitis (Pepperdine) and Dylan Hoskins (Texas Tech) have all moved on to the next stop of their decorated careers after leading the Longhorns to 116 wins over the last four years.
A new era of George Ranch volleyball is here. A sophomore leads the way.
Sydney Bryant, a 6-foot-3 outside hitter, is seemingly next in line as the face of coach Cheyenne Forshee’s program.
It’s a role Bryant has expected and been ready for.
“I feel like a lot of people look up to me to score a lot of points and keep the team together,” Bryant said. “I take that role of being the glue of the team very seriously. It’s a great opportunity to prepare me for what’s to come, whether it is what college coaches want to see or for the club season.”
As a reserve middle last year, Bryant totaled 88 kills and 102 total blocks as a freshman on varsity. This year, she has essentially been tasked with filling Shimaitis’ shoes as the team’s top attacker and hitter.
Bryant is being asked to do so while moving to a new position as outside hitter.
“I actually thought I was going to struggle more this year,” she said. “Playing outside (hitter), you have to play defense, pass and serve-receive. But my confidence is so much higher than what I expected. I feel I have a role to fulfill. Last year with Avery, she held the team together with her confidence. I want to do the same thing.”
Bryant got off to a fast start this season, averaging 4.6 kills per set and hitting .326 through 34 games.
During the summer, she worked diligently on her explosiveness, to get higher over the block, and having a “higher arm,” to hit over the block instead of right into it.
Bryant said her serve receive has improved drastically.
“Passing the ball decently to the setter has surprised me,” she said, laughing. “It’s probably the biggest difference in my game.”
Her leadership is also evolving.
Bryant studied Shimaitis last year and admired how she brought confidence to the team with the way she respected others and treated everyone equally. The Longhorns’ aforementioned star quartet employed a culture of family and togetherness.
Bryant wants to carry that on. For instance, she’s taken it upon herself to make Madelynn Coy, the lone freshman on this year’s Longhorns, feel comfortable and at ease.
Overall, it’s a new-look George Ranch team and Bryant is hungry to make a difference for others.
“The first practice was just OK,” Bryant said. “No one was really used to each other. But the more time we’ve had together, we’ve started to mesh well and we’re getting the chemistry down. All the girls are hard-working. We have no DI players yet, so it’s a totally different team. But we definitely can make it work.”