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November 28, 2023
September 7, 2023
SAN MARCOS, Texas — When Texas State plays host to Southeastern Louisiana on Thursday, it will do so with the reigning Sun Belt Conference setter of the week.
Which is nothing unusual at Texas State, where Emily DeWalt was the league setter of the week six times in 2022. Heck for that matter, DeWalt — the setter of the week 25 times in her career — was the five-time Sun Belt setter of the year from 2018-22.
Which leads us to Ryann Torres.
After Texas State beat North Texas in five and then swept then-No. 13 Houston last week, Torres was named the Sun Belt setter of the week.
“She’s had the hardest job in the country, being behind Emily DeWalt,” Texas State coach Sean Huiet said. “It’s fun to see her take over and do it her way. And I’ve told her, you don’t have to be Emily DeWalt, you get to be Ryan Torres and run the show the way you know how.”
And run it she has. Texas State is 4-1 and the 5-foot-10 Torres is averaging 10.65 assists and 2.59 digs per set.
And here’s the thing: She looks so mean while doing it.
“One-thousand percent. Yes,” Torres admitted with a laugh. “It’s not intentional. I can be having the best day ever and I’ll be walking on campus and I’ll have someone come up to me later in the day and say, ‘You looked really mad. Are you OK?’ No, it’s just my face.
“And it shows a little more when I’m thinking and focusing and my wheels are turning.”
Her wheels were really turning against Houston as Texas State pulled off a stunning 25-18, 25-22, 25-19 sweep.
“I have this mindset,” Torres said. “See ball, get ball.”
“Ryann played so good today. She was so outstanding and such a good teammate,” redshirt-freshman outside Samantha Wunsch said after the Houston match when Torres had a kill, 36 assists, nine digs and two blocks. Her Bobcats hit .392 and Wunsch had 11 kills with one error in 25 attacks and three blocks, one solo and is this week’s Sun Belt offensive player of the week. She had 15 kills and six blocks against North Texas.
“She was waiting for a long time and now that this season is here, she’s so hungry and so ready,” Wunsch said. “She’s being such a good teammate and such a good leader.”
And persistently patient. She got some playing time when DeWalt was injured, for example setting for her one spring when DeWalt had surgery, and serving for her when her shoulder was injured.
But four years as a reserve is a long time.
Torres grew up just 10 miles from campus in Buda, where she was a good player for Jack C. Hays High School.
“In high school I had an important role and coming to Texas State and being behind Emily DeWalt, it took a toll on me a little bit,” Torres said. “There definitely was an adjustment. I learned how to be there for my teammates, just in a different way and I think that taught me so much. And I use that playing on the court now.”
Torres, the second-oldest of five sisters, admitted there were moments when she questioned her situation, but credited a strong support system and encouragement from a lot of family/friends/people along the way.
“(Quitting) never crossed my mind but I was down a little bit at times,” she said. “I wanted to prove myself every single day and that was my biggest motivation.”
While DeWalt is now a coach at UT-Arlington, Hueit has added to his staff former Rice All-American setter Carly Graham, who has had a tremendous positive influence on Torres.
“She’s the best resource. She’s awesome,” Torres said. “We have position training and me and (TCU freshman transfer) Carlee Pharris, the other setter, and we come out of that look at each other after and it’s like, ‘Damn, she knows her stuff.’ And she can make it so simple.”
Graham appreciates Torres.
“She works so hard in the gym every day,” Graham said. “She gets after it. She’s a great teammate, very coachable, and had bought in to working to be better and being better for her teammates.”
Torres credits having a big family and those three younger sisters for some of it.
“There were times when I was playing mom. Yes, my parents are married and everything, but being one of the oldest and when my dad was at work, I helped my mom out. I played dad. I think I have that motherly nature and had that leadership role instilled in me very naturally.”
After the Houston match, Torres, listed as a senior but with another year of eligibility remaining, thanks to COVID, was all smiles.
“It felt so good,” Torres admitted. “The feeling is indescribable.”
The smile looked good on her.
“From the outside she looks like she’s a bad-ass, like she’s a mean girl, but Ryann is just the sweetest person,” Wunsch said. “On and off the court.”