SALADO — Alexus Dunning and her Belton Lady Tiger volleyball team were tired of being humiliated on the court. They decided enough was enough.
And then Stacy Meyers was hired as the head coach and showed them how to do it.
“Coach Meyers expects more out of us and we are willing to work harder than we ever have before,” Dunning said. “We all have the want to win and are doing everything that we can do to get there.”
Junior Brieanne Brown added: “The summer workout was mandatory. We were all out there working hard and our practices are so difference from what we had. She expects a higher level and doesn’t accept mistakes.”
The hard work paid off last Friday night as the Lady Tigers beat Salado in five games 17-25, 25-20, 19-25, 25-22 and 15-8 to improve to 10-6 on the season.
“We’ve already doubled our win total from last year — we wanted this so bad,” Brown said.
After trading the first four games, Salado (5-6) started Game 5 with control of the serve and an ace by Lady Eagles’ senior Hanah Perkins made it 1-0.
“Last year they would have put their heads down when something bad would happen,” Meyers said. “They don’t get discouraged this year. They stay confident and they want to win.”
Perkins hit her next serve out of bounds and the game was tied 1-1. Belton sophomore Sydney Wright served her squad to a 4-1 lead with the help of a Dunning block and a Brown kill. Next it was Machaela Moore’s turn to step up.
“We don’t have one go-to-guy on this team,” Meyers said. “We have a team full of role players.”
Moore reeled off three straight points that started with another Brown kill and was aided by two Salado mistakes.
“We have six seniors but only two have any real varsity experience,” said Lady Eagles coach Rachel Lee. “So we will make some young and unforced errors.”
Brown’s second ace of the night pushed Belton’s lead to 11-3 and a ferocious block by Dunning made it 12-3. Dunning had three aces to go with seven kills and five blocks while Brown contributed a game-high 16 kills to go with her 10 digs and two aces.
“The games were so intense we wanted to win so bad so every time someone came up to hit we wanted to slam it back into their face,” Dunning said of her performance.
Later in the match and trailing 13-5, Salado made a run of its own. A Lady Tiger error and kills by Shyenne Hicks and Perkins brought Salado as close as it would get before Belton closed out the game 15-8.
Lee sees a difference between this year’s Lady Tigers and last year’s edition.
“Coach Meyers is doing a great job with those kids,” Lee said. “That program, in my opinion, looks totally different in style of play and pursuit of the game.”
Don’t expect Meyers to let her team rest on its early season success. Though she is excited about her team’s current level of play, she has no interest in slight improvements.
“I don’t want to be a little better. I want us in the playoffs — that’s my goal for us,” she said.
Brown and Dunning both express similar desires and a need to show everyone that this year is different.
“Since we have a new coach and a new program, we’re starting over, we want to show the freshmen and everyone else that Belton volleyball will be good this year,” Brown said.
Dunning added: “We wanted to show them that we may be the same girls but we are different.”