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Eagles finish season rated 10th in D-2

Brady falls in first round at state tourney

GRAND ISLAND—The Brady volleyball team has faced plenty of challenges throughout the 2012 season.

Some of the trials were normal team adversities, working out player positions and team rotation.

Others dipped deeper into their psyche.

“We fought through plenty of struggles,” said coach Lynne Johnson. “Some things challenged their focus and others went so far as to challenge their will to play.”

But the Eagles fought through those adversities, large and small, to find their way back to the Class D-2 state tournament in Grand Island last week.

“We were one of only eight teams in our class to make it there,” Johnson said. “I told the girls they should be grateful and proud of their accomplishments.”

As the No. 8 seed in the class, Brady met No. 1 Mead in the first round. Although the Eagles put up a solid fight, Mead prevailed 25-21, 25-20, 25-21.

Brady had a hard time getting rolling as the Raiders cruised out to a 7-1 lead before Johnson took a timeout in hopes of stalling Mead’s momentum.

“They (Mead) didn’t have great hitters or even great blockers,” Johnson said, “but they were consistent and they had pretty good servers.”

After taking time to regroup, the Eagles found a bit of rhythm, getting back in the game and tying the set score at 9-9.

The Raiders didn’t go away, though, as they steadily kept the upper hand.

Brady got a better start to the second set and matched Mead point for point until the Eagles gained a slight 10-8 lead.

Mead came back strong, tying at 13-13 before taking control once again.

“I can’t pinpoint the reason,” Johnson said, “but our passing wasn’t quite as good as it usually was and our setters were getting called for double hits they haven’t been called for all year. They were getting frustrated.”

Subsequently, the hitting wasn’t as solid as usual either.

But rather than remembering the state tournament as a first-round loss, Johnson hopes the girls will see it as the accomplishment that it was.

“I want the girls to be able to look back and see how far they had to come,” the coach said. “When you look at the middle part of our season, you wouldn’t think there was any way we were going to make it to the state tournament.”

The Eagles started strong, going 10-3 and finishing runner-up in their home tournament.

Then the Brady girls struggled a bit through the end of September and beginning of October as they split matches with Wallace and fell to Medicine Valley and North Platte St. Pat’s.

“We stumbled through some lineup changes and then I feel like we got things ironed out,” Johnson said.

Brady lost only two of their final 15 matches, one to Class D-1 state ranked Ansley-Litchfield and the final match to Mead.

“I don’t mean to demean it or anything but it’s just volleyball,” Johnson said. “There are things much, much bigger than volleyball in life and these girls have experienced that first hand this year.”

Brady finished the season with a 23-8 record and a No. 10 rating in Class D-2 by the Omaha World Herald.

While the Eagles will lose three valuable seniors in Dakota Terry, Molly Hannon and Brittney Christophersen, Johnson said the returning Brady girls are determined to make a name for themselves.

“The right side of our rotation could be a big question again next year,” she said. “But we’ve got a good core of kids coming back and some players coming up who might be able to make a difference. I think we’ll be OK again next year.”

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