Prior to Tuesday night, Guyer and Trophy Club Nelson had not played since colliding in the 2019 Class 6A Region I final.
But in that nearly two-year stretch, plenty had changed on both sides.
The Lady Wildcats have a new coach in Leslie Jackson, and a majority of Guyer’s team that was responsible for reaching the school’s first-ever region final have since graduated.
In fact, Kyndal Stowers was one of the only players on the court for Guyer that played in that region final two seasons ago. Now a junior, Stowers has blossomed into one of the top volleyball players in the Dallas-Fort Worth area — and she showed why in the season opener.
The Baylor commit did it all offensively and defensively, leading the Lady Wildcats to a 25-13, 27-25, 25-27, 25-18 victory over Byron Nelson, the 2019 6A state champion.
“Kyndal is a stud,” Jackson said. “I’m glad she’s on our team and not someone else’s. She’s a good teammate and just wants to win, and [she wants to] make her teammates around her better.”
Stowers led the Lady Wildcats in kills and had already racked up 13 by the second set. But it was Stowers’ defense that was the difference on several occasions.
At the end of the first frame, Stowers lunged to save a ball that ultimately led to set point. She went on to make several other highlight-reel worthy defensive plays that ignited Guyer throughout the match.
.@GuyerVolleyball takes the first set over Byron Nelson 25-13.— Reece Waddell (@ReeceWaddell15) August 11, 2021
And who else? It’s @KyndalStowers making a tremendous defensive play to keep this ball alive, leading to the set point.
Lady Wildcats lead 1-0 headed to the second frame. #txhsvb pic.twitter.com/mKYj47p0d4
“Defense is my favorite part of the game,” Stowers said. “A lot of people talk about the kills, but I definitely take a lot of pride in defense and serve-receive.”
After cruising to a 25-13 win in the first set, Byron Nelson began to fight back, as the next two sets seesawed back and forth. The Lady Wildcats ultimately prevailed 27-25 in the second set before falling into a 21-13 hole in the third frame.
Guyer then quickly rattled off a 9-0 run, taking a 22-21 lead. The Lady Wildcats had two separate chances to close out the match at 24-23 and 25-24, but the Lady Bobcats staved off the sweep to force a fourth set.
With a 2-1 lead, Guyer wasted little time putting the match away in the fourth set, quickly building a lead Byron Nelson was never able to overcome.
Even though the Lady Wildcats weren’t able to finish off the sweep in the third set, Jackson said her team’s rally from down 21-13 showed Guyer’s grit and tenacity.
“They know how to fight through adversity,” Jackson said. “They’ve been through a lot in their career so far. You can see in their eyes they are determined to come back.”
In addition to starting the season 1-0, the Lady Wildcats also picked up the win in Jackson’s debut as head coach.
Guyer will be back in action this weekend at the Flower Mound Marcus tournament.
“It was very special,” Stowers said of winning in Jackson’s debut. “Coming in, we really wanted to play as hard as we could for her and show everybody she’s a great coach coming into the job here. She definitely knows what she’s doing, and we’re going to play hard for her every day of the week.”