Ava Harrington vividly remembers where she was and what she was doing the afternoon of November 9, 2019.
She was a freshman volleyball player watching her team, Episcopal, sweep Episcopal School of Dallas to win the Southwest Preparatory Conference Championship.
“I was sitting on the bench and was so excited for my teammates,” said Harrington, the only freshman on the team. “When we finally won that game point, I was emotional. I was just so proud of what we came through.
“I think about what it’ll be like when I’m on the court with a chance to win another championship. I thought about it all summer. Whether it’s the third, fourth or fifth set, I think about being the one to get everybody on the same page because I know we’ll need each other.”
Now a senior for the Knights, Harrington is ready to seize her moment.
The 6-foot-2 middle blocker had an inauspicious season last year. She started as an outside hitter. Two months into the season, she was moved to the right side.
Then she was moved again to the middle, her typical position.
As a result, Harrington’s numbers took a dive from her sophomore year. She averaged fewer kills and digs per set and had a worse hitting percentage.
“Last season, I was moved to a new position so I wasn’t playing as well as I could have,” she said. “There were setter-hitter connections that didn’t work as well, so once we moved me to right side and middle, I was able to pick things up.”
Despite all the maneuvering, Harrington was productive. She totaled 158 kills and 98 blocks, ranking fourth and first, respectively, on the team.
After a successful club season, and knowing she’ll be back this year at the middle blocker role she thrives in, Harrington is hungry to prove last year was an aberration.
“Knowing I’ll be where I want to be will make a big difference,” she said. “I’ve really grown as a middle blocker since last season and through the club season, being able to read sets, my transitioning and my quickness.”
Harrington has played in the middle since she started club volleyball as a 12-year- old. She’s used to running a fast offense from that spot. With a standing reach of 96 inches, Harrington is tall, has impressive reflexes and is quick side-to-side.
She has good balance, a high contact point and swings hard. It’s those measurables and skills that attracted the coaches at Princeton, where Harrington is committed to play at the next level.
Harrington said she’s improved as a passer, server and blocker playing for her club team, Houston Skyline, during the offseason.
She’s ready to put it all on display in 2022.
“I want to showcase everything I’ve learned and how far I’ve come,” Harrington said. “But my ultimate goal is leaving this program with another championship ring on my finger.”
Barbers Hill pushed through last year and advanced to the Regional Quarterfinals for the first time since 2018. Now, can it get back there in 2022 and to the Regional Semifinals for the first time since 2016?
The Eagles went 39-5 overall a year ago and rolled through district play, going 12-0. The 39 wins is tied for most overall wins in program history and they also set the most regular season wins in Barbers Hill volleyball history.
The Eagles will have to replace talents like Blinn signee and 21-5A Offensive Player of the Year Kelsi Wingo and McNeese signee Meagan Mayfield, who was the District 21-5A MVP.
Junior Peyton Fadal will be a key returner for the Eagles at setter after being the District 21-5A Newcomer of the Year in 2021. Right side Peyton Spahn and outside hitter Jacie Meredith are back after honorable mention, all-district seasons.
Other names to remember include Avery Wilks (MB) and Aemilie Broussard (OH).
Recently, Isaiah DeLeon won the VYPE ATX Public School Preseason QB of the Year Fan Poll. Taking the reigns his Sophomore year, DeLeon has helped guide the San Marcos Rattlers in a postive direction under the first 3 years of the John Walsh era in San Marcos navigating COVID and playing in the same district as State Powers Westlake and Lake Travis. VYPE was given the opportunity to catch up with DeLeon as he heads into his senior year that includes a new district.
VYPE: Talk to me about your last few years as quarterback of the Rattlers. You came in as a Sophomore and you've had a solid 2 years. What's it been like?
DeLeon: It’s definitely been a really good experience being able to start since my sophomore year and I can definitely see the growth just from then to junior year, the level of comfortability on the Field definitely jumped up as well
VYPE: Who do you try and emulate your game off of?
DeLeon: I think the biggest guy recently that I’ve tried to model after is Josh Allen just cause I think we have very similar body types as well as play styles so I think that is just the easy guy to go to
VYPE: You made it to the playoffs last season and now you've switched districts heading into 2022, what are you most looking forward to this season?
DeLeon: I think it should be fun getting to see new faces and playing new teams, we definitely feel like we are one of the best teams in the district and are looking to go on a run
VYPE: What have you been working on personally this offseason?
DeLeon: Personally the main thing I’ve been working on is just consistency and being just as accurate throw after throw along with consistency in mechanics
VYPE: What are some personal goals for you this season?
DeLeon: I really just want my team to get into the playoffs and winning the district and then going and getting a few gold balls
VYPE: If I'm not mistaken you're still currently uncommitted. What are you looking for in a potential college school?
DeLeon: I really just want to go somewhere that I really enjoy the environment and can get a really good education that I can use in the long run after football is over
VYPE: What is your pre-game routine?
DeLeon: Pre-game my QB coach, Coach Vallejo, always wraps up my ankles and we have a talk just going over a few things and a little pump up before we go out for team warmups, this is usually about 90 minutes before kickoff
VYPE: What has been your greatest memory as playing for San Marcos so far?
DeLeon: I think the greatest memory has to be getting to the playoffs with my team last year along with the coaches in the box flicking the lights in the press box after we beat Del Valle
VYPE: Finally, what's one of your favorite things to do off the field?
DeLeon: My whole family is big in music, so I’ve taken piano lessons along with guitar lessons since elementary school and I spend a lot of down time doing that when there’s not much to do
DeLeon and the Rattlers will begin their season August 26th at Rattler Stadium, taking on Hutto.
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