Lenawee Christian football, volleyball teams led by a brother-sister duo

ADRIAN – At the start of the fall season, two Lenawee Christian programs in particular were excited about the coming season.

The football team, after a perfect 11-0 season where the Cougars won the MHSAA Division 1 State 8-a-side football championship, and the volleyball team, which returned from a group experimented.

Both teams lived up to expectations with the soccer team at 6-0 and ranked No.2 overall in 8-a-side football and the top team in Division 1 and the volleyball team’s is ranked # 2 in the Division 4 MIVCA poll with wins against the Biggest. schools like Onsted and Adrian among others.

“We are focused on ourselves,” said volleyball head coach Kortney Addleman. “We love football and what they do is great, but what we do is up to us.”

Lenawee passer Christian Gabby Bryja prepares the ball for a kill during a game against Adrian. [Telegram photo by Mike Dickie]

As the two programs pursue their separate paths towards the same goal, a state title, they have one thing in common, besides winning, their quarterbacks.

On the football field, Ashur Bryja senior is under the center while on the volleyball court, Gabby Bryja is the passer.

It’s the brother and sister who are leading the Cougars to some fantastic seasons.

It’s no surprise that their coaches describe the two similarly.

“Gabby is relentlessly chasing the ball,” Addleman said. “She works harder than most soccer players. She is a great kid, she is kind, eager to learn and she is coachable.”

Head football coach Bill Wilharms has described Ashur Bryja as tough.

“If something is wrong, it bounces back,” Wilharms said. “I love the child for this reason.

The two positions are similar.

The passer on the volleyball court is the one who prepares others for eliminations as they rack up assists.

The passer is the one on the ground who puts the ball where it needs to be to prepare his teams for success.

Much like a quarterback looking for the open catcher, the passer must make split decisions about where she’s going to go with the ball and which hitter then has the best chance of hitting the ball home for a kill.

“I know who can get the points and we work a lot together,” Gabby said. “I know I can trust my hitters.”

For Ashur, his decisions come from studying the other team’s defense before the game and who has the best clashes before the game.

So far this season, it’s Elliott Addleman, the son of volleyball coach Kortney Addleman, for 22 receptions, 405 yards and six touchdowns.

“We rehearse it all week and find out who is open for practice,” Ashur said. “All of my receivers can catch, so they’re always open.”

Ashur thinks his sister has learned a thing or two about how to lead a successful team.

“I feel like she’s bouncing off me a bit,” he said. “I’m the older brother so I feel like she’s following in my footsteps a bit. She’s a very hard worker and she has her goals and I have my goals.”

Gabby would tend to agree.

“The positions compare a lot,” she said. “I see leadership in its role.”

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