Consistent, super fun to watch, best friend, sarcastic, dependable and Magna Cum Laude were just some of the words used to describe Addie Bryant.
A senior, the South Carolina volleyball libero transferred to Columbia after spending two years in junior college and has made an impact both on and off the court for the Gamecocks.
She finished the regular season, which ended last week, tied for the team lead with 98 sets played, had a team-high 373 digs and also had 80 assists, third highest on the team.
The Gamecocks — 19-11 and 11-7 in the SEC after its regular season — earned a trip to Seattle to face Colorado State (29-1, 18-0 Mountain West) on Friday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Bryant, a native of San Antonio, didn’t decide to play college volleyball until her final semester of high school. As a result, her choices where slim and she spent two of what she called the best years of her life at San Jacinto College in Houston.
At San Jacinto, Bryant helped propel the team to a 52-16 record, earned All-Region XIV honors and was Libero of the Year for both seasons. She eclipsed 600 digs each season, including 645 in 2016, a number that ranks second in San Jacinto’s program history.
This caught the eye of then newly-hired Gamecock head coach Tom Mendoza, who was looking for some defensive help.
“Luckily, South Carolina found me,” Bryant said. “Somehow, they got in touch with me, which was something I just thought was really cool. I was emailing over 100 schools, and [I was] getting a few replies here and there, so them emailing me first was really cool.”
Bryant and Mendoza didn’t connect until after the junior college season was over, but when they did, they clicked.
“It was pretty clear early on that it was going to be a really good fit both ways,” Mendoza said, adding specifically that Bryant’s court awareness and touch on the ball caught his eye.
Two weeks later, Bryant came on a visit and immediately fell in love with the campus she said, “felt like home.”
In the fall, Bryant formed an instant connection with teammate Lauren Bowers. The two routinely went to Community Table to talk about volleyball and school.
In her first season, Bryant was everything the Gamecocks hoped for.
Her back row consistency led her to play in all but two sets of the team’s 2018 season. She finished fourth on the team with 186 digs (1.69 per set) and third in serve receptions (408).
Mendoza’s confidence in Bryant only went up and she started two games at libero that season, earning a season-high 13 digs in one of them. Those two games, Georgia and Kentucky, were only previews of what was to come this season.
While there was never a formal “you’re the starting libero” from Mendoza, Bryant still had a little friendly completion from Bowers for the spot.
“Even though we are the same position, no matter who was playing, we’re happy for that person and encouraging them to be the best player they can be,” Bowers said. “She loves playing and she always would root for me to play.
“I definitely root for her to play and I’m glad that she is in that position and carrying the team in the libero spot.”
Bryant is someone everyone on the team loves playing with. Her teammates know what they can expect from her point in and point out. And it is almost always a perfect pass.
“We always ask our passers who they like passing next to … and they would always mention Addie. She’s a really calming influence. Even after a mistake, she responds really well,” Mendoza said. “I think from a coaching standpoint there was a comfort level, from a teammate standpoint there’s a comfort level.”
Added Gamecock hitter Mikayla Robinson, “As a middle, you need someone that passes perfectly, and she is one of those players that I can always count on.”
Bryant wants to leave a lasting impact that encapsulates who she is.
“I hope to leave behind a lot of passion. I love playing volleyball, and I love everything about it,” she said. “I want people to look out there and see how much fun I’m having on the court with my team.”