Joy and elation radiated from the Jordan High volleyball team bench as soon as sophomore Ella Koch put away a 3-1 win over Cy-Springs on Monday evening in the Warriors' first ever varsity game.
For the Warriors, a second-year Class 5A, Division II program, the game was not just some non-district affair that will be lost in MaxPreps scheduling lore. It was history. It was justification.
It was a substantial outcome for everything they had worked for in building a new program from scratch over the last year.
"It's super hard," Koch said. "We've been through a lot of tough times, but we've worked very hard to get here and we know we still have a long way to go. I think a win like this sets us forward as to what we can do and how we can get there."
Jordan won 24-26, 25-21, 25-19, 25-14. Impressively, the Warriors, with a 10-girl varsity roster of four juniors, five sophomores and a freshman, showed fight and an ability to adjust and adapt after errors plagued a sloppy first set.
"I thought we were pretty tough for being a young team," coach Jennifer Vaden said. "We showed resilience. We could've gotten shook; Cy-Springs brought athleticism and didn't ever let a ball touch the ground. I was proud of our response."
Vaden was also proud of the depth the Warriors showed. Junior outside hitter Ella Folse had 13 kills, three aces and two blocks. Koch, an outside hitter, had 12 kills and two aces. Freshman Alexys James, a right-side hitter, had eight kills and eight aces.
"It's about playing together," James said. "Whenever we get down in points, like the first set, we all came together, talked it out and focused on playing as a team. I'm just so happy to be a part of this program. It's really like a family and we all support each other. You won't find a bond like ours anywhere else."
Vaden said the Warriors have been "working 365" to get to this point. Prior to Jordan, she led Mayde Creek, where her job was to establish credibility and culture within a downtrodden Rams program.
Vaden made considerable headway in that purpose by the time the Jordan gig came around, and she took some of what she learned there to the Warriors.
"Mayde Creek was a great experience as far as going in and having to shift everything and help those girls understand what it looks like to be a great program," Vaden said. "To be able to close the gap there was extremely hard, but we just put our head down and got to work and that helped me coming over here. We talk a lot about culture, building gritty culture, and the neat thing is there was nothing here. It's a lot of fun to be able to build that and for the girls to only know one way."
That one way is a welcomed fresh start for everyone involved.
.@JordanHSVball junior Ella Folse talks about the Warriors’ first ever varsity win tonight, 3-1 over Cy-Springs. Unofficially, Folse had 14 kills, three aces and two blocks in the win. #txhsvb @JordanHSAthlet1 pic.twitter.com/XtN6RUTVz1— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) August 11, 2021
"It's awesome," Folse said. "Everyone is new, everything is new. There's no bad habits. There's no bad drama. We're all in it together. We're creating all the good habits amongst ourselves and we're making the most of it."
Indeed, a win in varsity game No. 1 is a strong start, something Vaden is excited that the Warriors can take a lot from and build upon.
"It's just putting our head down and going to work," Vaden said. "How good can we get? Let's leave nothing to chance and make sure we're playing the same way every single time and building that confidence and the grit and resilience that comes from inside-out and not outside-in."