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Bri Thompson + Morgan Wilkerson Lead Van to Four-Game Win at Tyler All Saints

TYLER — Kristen Reaves believes her team is capable of accomplishing great things in the future. But for now, the Lady Vandals coach is content with taking it one match at a time.

Reaves admitted being disappointed in her squad’s showing at the Tyler Invitational volleyball tournament last weekend, but found comfort after Van’s hard-fought 21-25, 26-24, 26-24, 25-19 victory over Tyler All Saints on Tuesday at Brookshire Gym.

Van improved to 16-3 on the season and rediscovered the winning formula after losses to New Diana and Lindale over the weekend.

“This team has so much potential to be amazing,” Reaves said. “I just don’t think we’re quite there yet, but we’re getting there. I’m OK with learning some lessons now instead of learning lessons in district and the playoffs.”

The Lady Vandals were led by Bri Thompson, who finished with 16 kills and three blocks and senior setter Morgan Wilkerson’s 39 assists, two kills and three aces. Van’s other three hitters — Rebekah Rogers, Hallee Carter and Clarissa Luther — combined for 25 kills.

“She’s definitely a go-to player,” Reaves said of Thompson. “She wants to put the ball away, she wants the ball. It’s not just her; it’s Rebekah, Hallee, Clarissa. And that’s nice to have on a team, four really good hitters who can put the ball away.”

Reaves was also complimentary of her team’s serving, which netted 11 aces on the night but had been a thorn in their side of late.

“I just think we were more consistent passing and serving tonight,” she said. “Serving hasn’t been our strong suit lately, but we definitely served better tonight than we have and I think that’s what helped push us over the edge.”

All Saints (10-5) coach Bryan Winegeart agreed with the Van coach’s assessment.

“The biggest difference for us was definitely our serve-receive,” he said. “I have a very young group of girls that are passing for me, and it seems to be that when the pressure is put on it’s been hard for them to overcome. It’s something we’ve been working on and it’s the reason I’ve scheduled games like this in (non-district).”

The loss overshadowed a strong performance by Lady Trojans sophomore Ferrell Clyde, who finished the match with 12 kills, eight blocks and four aces.

“Probably out of all the girls that we have she’s probably been one of the most improved this year,” Winegeart said of Clyde. “She’s only a sophomore, this is her first year playing varsity, so catching up to the speed of the game and catching up to the speed of the teams we’ve been playing this season has been a little bit of a challenge for her. But she’s shown great improvement and I really have high hopes for her in the future.”

Lanna Johnson led All Saints with 18 kills, while Maddie Smith dished out 30 assists.

Winegeart is hopeful that by scheduling games against some of the area’s top programs, big dividends will be paid out down the road.

“Van did a lot of great things,” he said. “They’ve got three or four great hitters, which at the TAPPS level we don’t see a whole lot. But it makes us a lot better. They did a great job of communicating, they hustled for balls and their libero (Ashlin Lovett) is one of the best liberos we’ve played against this season.”

Van and All Saints will both take part in the Brownsboro Tournament this weekend. The Lady Vandals then host Hallsville, while All Saints begins TAPPS District 2-4A play at home against Dallas Christian next Tuesday.

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