As the owner of more than 10 volleyball championships throughout their history, the East Bernard Brahmarettes year in and year out are a force to reckon with.
This year, the Brahmarettes are off to a good start with a 14-5 record on the season after a recent home four-set loss to Needville 17-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-22. The smaller 3A Brahmarettes dropped the game to the bigger 4A Needville, but in the game, they gave them everything they could handle.
"I thought we fought really hard. We played really hard. We just have to figure out how not to be up and down so much and that's just maturity," Brahmarettes Coach Breanna Lolley said.
At a practice after the loss, communication was a big theme. In the Pullin Gym, while the team worked through drills and different games, the girls’ voices echoed off the wall as they yelled for the ball, working to improve on the different takeaways from their loss to Needville hours earlier.
"When we're loud and we're moving our feet, man we look good," Lolley said.
In the past four seasons, East Bernard has been at least four rounds deep in the playoffs. So, the road to the postseason for the Brahmarettes starts early and to prepare them they are playing heavy hitters in 5A, 4A and 3A playoff teams. Including playing Needville who lost in the 4A state championship game last year, they also played Victoria West, a 5A team which went two rounds deep in the playoffs.
"We've started out really strong," senior setter McKenna Novicke said. "We've had a few ups and downs, but right now it's good for us."
Needville is currently ranked as the ninth-best team in 4A, according to the Texas Girls Coaches Association statewide poll. Currently, East Bernard is unranked, but in a preseason poll was mentioned among the state’s best teams.
EBHS hasn’t cracked the poll since.
The schedule did not get easier for East Bernard, before district starts, as Lolley scheduled three more 4A teams including the number one team in Fulshear.
"To me, it gets the girls used to a faster game. A lot of teams we play in district and in tournaments are a little bit slower," Lolley said. "So you're playing these bigger, faster and stronger teams and those are the teams we're going to see in regionals and state. That really prepares us for the type of teams we're going to see later in the year."
The Brahmarettes’ experience isn't the same as last year, however, they have three athletes who've been learning coach Lolley's system since she joined the program three seasons ago.
Overall, seven players returned to the team from last seasons team that came one set away from making the regional finals.
"The returning group that's coming back is really strong this year," senior middle blocker Tori Koenig said. "We have a lot of younger girls on the team this year. (We only) have two seniors so we're really excited we have new people to teach."
Along with the seven returners, Novicke was named the all-state team last year.
East Bernard last weekend played in the Battle of the Brazos Tournament. Scores were not available.
"Our severing and passing has got to get nailed down so we're able to run our offense," Lolley said. "Our defense is always going to be scrappy and that's something we always work on. Really (we need) to solidifying our block. If our block is solid this year our defense is really going to be able to do its job."