Maryville College Rhianna "Red" Tyldesley had a breakout performance last week, as the freshman outside hitter earned USA South Rookie of the Week honors.
Tyldesley averaged 2.89 kills and 1.00 digs per set, as Maryville posted a 3-0 record last week. The Trussville, Ala. native had the biggest game of her career against LaGrange College, throwing down 21 kills.
"It's great," Head Coach Kandis Schram said of the honor. "It's a great honor for her particularly. Anytime a player is honored, if it be conference, institutional or in a tournament, it's always an affirmation that you're doing the right things. We've tried to focus on team accomplishments, but her coming out and having such a phenomenal game is just proving that all her hard work is starting to pay off. Rhianna, "Red," we knew as we recruited her that she has what it takes to be an outstanding outside at the college level, but just her adjusting to the speed and level has been the issue for any freshman. This is just showing that all her hard work is paying off."
In her 21-kill match, Tyldesley recorded more kills than she had in all matches previously in the year. She had 18 kills, before Saturday's performance earned her Rookie of the Week.
"I just found out a few minutes ago [about the award]," Tyldesley said with a smile. "I'm speechless and don't know what to say. I don't really expect it, being a freshman."
In a 3-0 win over Berea College, Tyldesley tallied five kills with a .182 hitting percentage. She also recorded five digs for a complete performance against the Mountaineers.
On Saturday, however, she had her biggest performance of her young career.
Tyldesley recorded a match-high 21 kills, as she had a .255 hitting percentage. She added four digs, two blocks and an assist in the contest, as the Scots held off a Panther rally, 3-2.
"It's been very up-and-down," Tyldesley said. "At first when I came here, not playing that much was a struggle coming from high school. When I got put in and played, just being on the court, it just felt like I wasn't nervous anymore. I just played my heart out. It just felt natural."
For Schram, that confidence shined through.
She said the freshman's variance in the game was what really made it a complete performance.
"It was exciting," Schram said. "It really was. She was making really, really solid changes. She was hard cross, down the line, roll – it wasn't just the fact that she had 21 kills, but it was the fact that they were 21 solid, varying types of attacks. She was playing an all-around game, and she was just playing front row. It was awesome to see her emerge and have the confidence in herself. It was fun to watch. We've been working all year on varying your hit, and you could just see it coming out."
That variance propelled the 5-foot-10 outside hitter to the second-most kills by any Scot this season. It trailed only Brianne Sidner's 22-kill outing against Agnes Scott College a week before.
The talented outside hitter emerged to help the Scots move to 3-1 in USA South play this season.
Tyldesley will look to continue her performance, as the Scots travel to No. 3 Emory University on Friday for a 6 p.m. first serve.
Maryville will then travel to Demorest, Ga. and face USA South foes Piedmont College (12 p.m.) and Huntingdon College (2 p.m.), on Saturday.