BUMP, SET, SPIKE: The Private School Dark Horses
These teams may win it all or just slide into the playoffs in that last slot. They are the Dark Horses for a reason. Each of these squads has the potential to make that title run, but either they are having to replace a ton of talent gone to graduation or are super young. Check out who the Dark Horses are heading into this fall!
John Cooper School Dragons (Finished 5th in the SPC Tourney)
DRAGONS BREATHING FIRE IN 2019
The Dragons ran the table in the consolation bracket of the Southwest Preparatory Conference tournament, claiming fifth place. While their leader and all-SPC selection Abby Frazier has graduated, there are several studs ready to step up. Running the offense will be Lauren Harkness as the setter. On the outside will be Anna Claire Adam and Hailey Huettel, while Amaya Harrell will take care of the middle. The defense will be led by junior Laura Weatherford as the defensive specialist. Freshman Rivers Kolesar could also be a game-changer in the middle for coach Ray Hedden. Episcopal and St. John's will get the Dragons ready for postseason play during the regular season, but it's up to the girls to see where they can take it come tourney time.
Katy St. John XXIII Lions (Reached Second Round of TAPPS 6A Playoffs)
READY TO ROAR
The Lions of Katy St. John XXIII reached the second round of the TAPPS postseason and have high expectations entering the 2019 season under the direction of new coach Preston Smith. Smith comes over from Fort Bend Christian Academy. The straw that stirs the drink is Calli Collins, a second-team, all-stater in volleyball. Collins is also a star on the softball field. Also, back in the mix are Lauren Witt, Dana Sheehan and Taylor Morello, who will need to have huge seasons to improve on last year. Blair Moreland is the junior setter and Bridget Thompson is a solid outside. Getting valuable varsity experience last year were sophomores Isabella Eguia and Sophie IbanezFlores. They should take huge strides with a varsity and summer select season under their belts.
The Woodlands Christian Academy Warriors (Reached TAPPS 4A State Title Match)
THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM?
The expectations are high around The Woodlands. No, not just for the powerhouse Class 6A team but also for The Woodlands Christian Academy. The Warriors enter 2019 seeking their third-straight District 7-TAPPS 4A Championship and berth at the TAPPS 4A State Tournament. Last season, the year ended with a highly-contested match against Northland Christian in the TAPPS 4A State Semifinals. The Woodlands Christian Academy fell in five sets (3-2, losing 16-14 in Set 5). Being so close has fueled the Warriors' three returning starters, who are ready to roll. Leading the group will be TAPPS 4A second-team, all-state selection Abby Adams (323 kills, 252 digs, 47 aces). Also returning will be first-team, all-district selection Bella Eddie (123 kills, 50 digs) and second-team, all-district picks Katie Tucker (99 kills, 18 blocks) and Reese Ray. Kori Parker, who is entering her fifth season at TWCA (79-30), said a major key to the team's success in 2019 will be focusing on ball control and cutting down on unforced errors. Parker continued to say she will lean on the seniors and other leaders to set the precedent from day one having the end goal in mind – a state championship.
Cypress Christian Warriors (Reached Third Round of TAPPS 5A Playoffs)
VAUGHN TO LEAD WARRIORS INTO BATTLE
The Warriors were on the cusp of being in the TAPPS 5A State Semifinals a year ago. Going 23- 11 and earning a bye in the first round, Cypress Christian reached the third round as one of the last eight teams in the state. The Warriors' season came to an end against San Antonio Christian School. Looking towards 2019, Cypress Christian will lean on TAPPS 5A honorable mention, all-state selection Alexis Vaughn to get back there and farther. Vaughn (221 kills, 195 digs) is verbally committed to Abilene Christian University. Other key returners for the Warriors include all-district honorable mentions Bella Henslee (223 attacks) and Abby Gilreath (87 kills). Another player to watch heading into the fall will be Campbell Fox. Under the direction of Brittany Witherspoon, the Warriors will try to reach the playoffs for a fourth straight year. Witherspoon believes the keys to success include team comradery, understanding the mental aspect of the game and building off strengths and weaknesses seen in previous matches throughout the year.
Cypress Christian reached the third round in 2018. Can they go farther? By Lily Cox
Lutheran South Pioneers (Reached Second Round of TAPPS 5A Playoffs)
CIRCLING THE WAGONS
Okay volleyball, it's your turn. If iron sharpens iron, then Lutheran South should be in good shape this season. The baseball and softball teams closed out the 2018-19 school year with TAPPS state titles, so the expectations are high for the Pioneers this year. Hannah Stallings, Lauren Demchak, Kiersten Lin, Kaitlyn McCann, Lily Psencik and Gayle Henderson return to lead the wagon. Stallings was an all-state selection on the outside, while Demchak and Lin (libero) were second-teamers. The future is in good hands with setters Henderson and Psencik, a junior and sophomore, respectively. Fort Bend Christian Academy and Cypress Christian have traditionally been the queens of the district, so the Pioneers need to hold off Second Baptist, Westbury Christian and Emery/Weiner to better their postseason positioning.
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August 2019 VYPE Houston Magazine (VYPE Volleyball Preview): Volume 12 Number 1
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