It hasn’t been a long time that high school teams in Bryant have been allowed to add freshmen to their squads and, even when it was initially allowed, they couldn’t do so until the freshman season was over.
Four years ago as the Bryant Lady Hornets volleyball season unfolded, there was a buzz about a freshman who could step right in and help the varsity. And, with the change in the old rule at BHS, once the freshman season concluded, Bryant volleyball coach Beth Solomon brought her onto the varsity team.
Britney Sahlmann made her debut as a setter and the promise that brought her that promotion panned out tremendously.
As a senior this last fall, Sahlmann capped her career with 2,467 successful sets, a whopping 870 assists and all-conference and all-State Tournament honors. She’s also been selected to play in the annual Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star game this June.
In addition, she contributed 116 kills, 11 solo blocks and served up 58 aces for a 28-win Bryant team.
And on Wednesday, Sahlmann’s splendid Lady Hornets career concluded with a chance to play in college as she signed a letter of intent to continue her volleyball career and her education at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff starting this fall.
“I sent videos out to different colleges,” related Sahlmann, the daughter of Dustin and Shea Sahlmann. “Mercyhurst in Pennsylvania offered me to come visit. So I visited on Thanksgiving. Then I visited with UAPB. I started talking to them in December. And I felt UAPB was the right choice for me.
“It’s closer to home,” she acknowledged. “That had a big affect on it. And, also, financially, I felt like it was better for me to choose UAPB.”
A tremendous soccer player as well, Sahlmann helped the BHS soccer team capture its first Class 7A State title last spring and she’s contributed heavily to this year’s undefeated squad.
“I just felt like I was better at volleyball,” she said about her choice of college sports. “I’m okay at soccer, I guess, but I just feel like in volleyball I stand out more.”
“From day one, I knew Britney would be an amazing setter for us and she never proved me wrong,” said Solomon. “As a coach, you become very close to your setter. You rely on her to take care of the things that happen on the court that you cannot hear or see. Britney has always been somebody that I could look to, to let me know if there was an issue I didn’t know about or to handle an issue that I didn’t need to know about.
“A setter is usually the cornerstone of your team and you could definitely say that about Britney,” the coach continued. “Calling plays, determining where the defense is at all times so she knows who to give the hit to, watching for the sneaky setter dumps over the net — these are all things that a setter has to be in control of and Britney definitely did that for us.”
Sahlmann began playing volleyball when she was in fifth grade.
“Sixth grade, they picked me out and I set and hit,” she recalled. “Once eighth grade came around, I just started setting. In middle school, I just decided I’m playing volleyball in college. That’s what I’m going to do.”
“She’s been a great role model for those coming up behind her,” said Solomon. “She’s helped by giving points, tips, evaluations to the younger players so they, in turn, can improve their skills. Britney is a player that puts others before herself. She’s concerned about her stats but she’s much more concerned about what’s right for the team in the moment. She’s a true selfless player.
“I recently read a quote that says ‘Leadership is a result of making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.’ That’s a quote that I would definitely use to describe her and her leadership. I know her impact on Bryant volleyball will continue in future years.”
Sahlmann, who wants to be an elementary school teacher, said she was told by the UAPB coaches they want her to step right in and set for the Lady Lions as a freshman.