You've already seen the VYPE Austin preseason private school volleyball rankings, so it's time to learn about the contenders. Check out the team breakdowns below, and learn about the sleepers and dark horses in the coming days!
No. 1 Austin St. Michael's Catholic Academy Crusaders (Reached 2018 TAPPS 5A state final)
Austin St. Michael's Catholic Academy advanced to last year's TAPPS 5A state final, and will be in contention for the ultimate prize in 2019. The Crusaders will lean on senior Kathryn Morton and junior Nora Carlson because they're coming off second-team all-state seasons. Juniors Jillian Bruegging and Alexis Threadgill will also play a big role, as evident by their 2018 second-team all-district seasons. Additional leadership will come from 2020 athlete and district honorable mention Olivia Muth.
No. 2 Austin Waldorf School Roadrunners (Reached 2018 TAPPS 2A state final)
Austin Waldorf School suffered a hard-fought five-set loss in last year's TAPPS 2A state final, so it's hungry to finish on top in 2019. The Roadrunners return a lot of talent and experience, so the sky's the limit. Charlotte Brenner, Risa Olson, Daisy Palmer and Miranda Sekel will lead the charge because they earned first-team all-state honors in 2018 and are back for their senior season. Ruby Tunney is also a Class of 2020 member and leads fellow second-team all-district honorees Ruby Bledsoe (junior) and Eva Maguire (sophomore). The team depth continues with district honorable mentions Mabel Andrae and Clara Pickens, who are back for their senior and junior years respectively.
No. 3 Round Rock Christian Academy Lady Crusaders (Reached 2018 TAPPS 3A state semifinal)
Photo by VYPE Media's Bradley Collier.
Round Rock Christian Academy won TAPPS state volleyball championships in 2012 and 2017, and finished two wins short at last year's TAPPS 3A state semifinal, so it's gunning for the season's ultimate prize in 2019. Luckily for the Lady Crusaders, they will lean on a dominant lineup again. Senior Lydia Headley and junior Natalie Womack lead the pack as all-state players, but don't forget about first-team all-district junior Juliana Rodriguez. In addition to them, Kaitlyn Vasquez provides depth as a second-team all-district honoree, and district honorable mention seniors Makaila Beardmore and Katie Snyder round out the notable talent.
No. 4 Texas School For The Deaf Rangers (Reached 2018 TAPPS 4A regional final)
Photo by VYPE Media's Bradley Collier.
Texas School for the Deaf is coming off a trip to the TAPPS 4A regional final, and has the necessary group of talents to stay on course in 2019. First-team all-district Ashlene Etkie will have a big role this season, but she's not alone. Fellow seniors Ashley Harlicker and Kaci Ketchum are second-teamers like junior Jayne Taylor. Other members of the Class of 2020 include district honorable mentions Michaela Kelley and Brianne Leiker, and another 2021 prospect is Zara Thompson, so there's plenty of experience to go around.
No. 5 Regents School of Austin Knights (Reached 2018 TAPPS 5A area round)
Regents School of Austin leaned on a strong senior class to reach last year's TAPPS 5A area round, but still has enough talent to clinch another playoff berth in 2019. Senior Carrie Christian will play a big role because she's coming off a second-team all-district season like 2022 prospects Abigail Daehler and Ava Patton. Juniors Tayler Rood and Sydney Spradley will also be asked to step up because they're coming off district honorable mention campaigns.
For more sports coverage, follow Thomas (@Texan8thGen) and VYPE (@VYPEATX) on Twitter.
Looking to get more involved? Check out ShopVYPE for fresh gear that supports local schools and the VYPE U Ambassador Program. To sign up for the VYPE U Program, apply at VYPEU.com.
What a year 2018 was for Houston- area volleyball!
Kingwood Park went all the way and completed the mission, claiming the Class 5A State Championship. The Panthers bring solid pieces back for a potential run at a repeat. Ridge Point was also there playing for a state title but fell short to North Texas power Flower Mound. There are also the traditional powers in Houston, such as The Woodlands and Seven Lakes, who will try and make noise again in 2019.
So, who are the contenders?
Kingwood Park Panthers
(Won Class 5A State Championship)
READY TO DEFEND TITLE: Kingwood Park stood tall as the lone state champion from Houston in 2018. The Panthers made their first-ever trip to the UIL State Volleyball Tournament and shocked the land by knocking off Lucas Lovejoy in a sweep. Now, the target is firmly on the back of Kingwood Park heading into 2019. The Panthers do return solid pieces, including senior Libby Overmyer, who was named the 5A State Championship Game MVP. Overmyer (Colgate-commit) finished with a team-leading 391 kills and a second-best 290 digs. Also returning is Erika and Alia Williams. Erika finished with 211 kills and a team-leading 124 blocks at the net. Alia registered 262 kills last season. A spot the Panthers will have to figure out is at setter after losing Andie Unwin (743 assists) and Julia Hadley (706 assists) to graduation. Kelly Miser (102-22) enters her fourth season leading the Panthers and will try to get the program back to its third-straight regional final and potentially a run for back-toback state championships.
Ridge Point Panthers
(Reached Class 6A State Championship Game)
JETER, RUTHERFORD, MCCARDELL LEAD TALENTED GROUP INTO 2019: Ridge Point was on the cusp of bringing home the hardware in 2018. A loss in the Class 6A Championship game to Flower Mound prevented that, but fueled a team full of juniors to be ready for 2019. Gone is superstar Skylar Fields, who will star this fall at the University of Texas. Coach Lori McLaughlin has also moved on, taking the Cedar Park job. Lauren Bailey will take the coaching reigns and the cupboard is loaded. Back is a solid senior crew led by Claire Jeter (Texas A&M-commit). Jeter, a selection to the State All-Tournament team last season, led Ridge Point with 490 kills and 167 blocks. Also back is Reagan Rutherford (Kentucky-commit), who had 832 assists, 477 digs, 382 kills and 105 blocks. Ridge Point also brings back leading setter Kendall Sekula (979 assists) and defensive standout Nia McCardell (906 digs). With all this talent back on the roster, Ridge Point should be considered a heavy favorite in the city again. The Panthers will have to fight their way through a tough Region III-6A bracket, with the potential of running into Seven Lakes, Pearland Dawson or George Ranch in the postseason. The Panthers should be ready with the experience back.
The Woodlands Highlanders
(Reached 6A Regional Semifinals)
MABERRY TO LEAD HIGH-OCTANE OFFENSE: When talking about contenders in Houston, The Woodlands must be in the conversation. The Highlanders reached the Regional Semifinals for a seventh-straight time last season before falling to Plano West. Falling short of reaching the Regional Finals snapped a five-year streak of playing in that round for The Woodlands. Heading into this season – chasing the program's fourth overall state championship and first since 2015 – The Woodlands has some top talent back. Dylan Maberry (LSU-commit) leads the offensive group after racking up an impressive 765 kills last season and was named the District 15-6A Offensive Player of the Year. Maberry also registered 489 digs, 62 aces and 59 blocks. Also returning is first-team, all-district selections Clara Brower (Georgia-commit) and Amanda Ifeanyi (UT-San Antonio-commit). Brower had 1,546 assists last season, while Ifeanyi had 359 kills and 110 blocks. Other key returners for The Woodlands include second-team, all-district selection Natasha Zorbas (134 kills and 100 blocks) and Allie Griffith (Air Force-commit), who earned an honorable mention, all-district nod after racking up 189 digs in 79 sets. Terri Wade (353-137) enters her fifth season at The Woodlands and 12th overall as a head coach.