WARRENSBURG — Crest Ridge freshman Kyla Brandes notched her first varsity kill in the opening set of the Lady Cougars 2-0 win over Smithton on Tuesday, Sept. 3, at the Multipurpose Building on the University of Central Missouri campus and immediately found the teammate that helped set her up — her older sister, senior Kenna Brandes.
“It was so fun, just me getting to pass and her getting the kill, that type of thing is such an indescribable feeling,” Kenna Brandes said.
Kyla is the lone freshman and the only underclassman on the Crest Ridge varsity roster.
“She is just one that you just call a gamer,” Crest Ridge coach Katie Woolsey said. “She does practice hard, but when it’s game time, her play goes to another level.”
Kyla adds another weapon to the Lady Cougars line-up that returns a majority of last year’s co-I-70 conference title group, who finished 21-10-4 — the most wins for the Lady Cougars in a season since 2004.
“There is no pressure for her, in our opinion,” Woolsey said. “Yeah, you’re a freshman starting, but you’ve got all these girls around you that have been there and you don’t have to be the go-to.”
Kyla’s impact was just getting started as she took to the service line with the Lady Cougars trailing Smithton 7-6.
Fourteen serves by the freshman later, Crest Ridge held a comfortable 20-7 lead, which eventually turned into a 25-16 first set win, ending fittingly with a kill by Kyla.
“That really helped us settle down,” Woolsey said. “You could tell, the first few balls we were really excited and kind of jittery. When she got on that serving run, you could tell we settled in.”
Crest Ridge got up big once again in set two, staking out an 18-8 lead that turned into a 25-14 set two win to complete the sweep.
“Overall, I thought our energy was awesome,” Woolsey said. “Our hitters were being aggressive and our setters gave them an opportunity to be aggressive.”
Junior Reagan Shippy led the Cougars attack with six kills while senior Emily Wilhite landed all eight of her attacks for five kills and added a block.
Kyla stuffed the stat sheet in her first time in a Crest Ridge uniform, notching eight aces, three kills and digging out 10 ball.
“That’s the thing with this group, we have hitters all over the place and an All-State libero in Kenna Brandes, who puts our setters in good positions, then they put our hitters there,” Woolsey said. “It’s exciting to have that many options.”
Crest Ridge travels on Thursday, Sept. 5, to Sacred Heart.