You've already seen the VYPE Austin preseason public school volleyball rankings, so it's time to learn about the sleepers. Check out the team breakdowns below, and look for more preseason coverage in the coming days!
Lake Travis Cavaliers (Reached 2018 UIL 6A Bi-District)
Lake Travis earned 32 wins and a UIL 6A bi-district finish in 2018, and has the necessary returning talent to have a better year in 2019. The Cavaliers are expected to lean on senior setter Abi Watts, as well as college recruits Arden Besecker, Jamison Wheeler, Mykenna Eklund, Jorden Jaimes and Keely Hamilton. Besecker is a Florida State beach volleyball commit, Wheeler is a SMU volleyball commit, Eklund is an Oral Roberts volleyball commit, Jaimes is a SFA beach volleyball commit and Hamilton is a University of Tampa beach volleyball commit.
Hays Rebels (Reached 2018 UIL 6A Bi-District Round)
Hays recorded a lot of second half success in 2018, so it finished last season with 28 wins and a trip to the opening round of the UIL 6A playoffs. The Rebels are expected to continue their winning ways under new head coach Ashley Davis in 2019 because they have a pair of Texas State commits in Ryann Torres and Trista Strasser. Torres is a senior setter and Strasser is a junior middle blocker. Other players to watch are junior right side hitter Madelyn Krafka, senior outside hitter Sydney Collins and sophomore outside hitter Joselyn Roberson.
Johnson City Lady Eagles (Reached 2018 UIL 3A Region IV quarterfinal)
Johnson City won 33 of its 41 games and advanced to the UIL 3A Region IV quarterfinal in 2018, so it'll contend for its fifth consecutive playoff berth in 2019. The Lady Eagles have two starters back from last year's run, so they will lean on key returning talent to stay on track. Middle blockers Kalli Dalland (2020 Lubbock Christian University commit) and McKenna Cowsert, and outside hitters Reagan Weirich and Paige Dalland are expected to lead the pack, but don't underestimate the talent of libero Olivia Adair.
Wimberley Texans (Reached 2018 UIL 4A Area Round)
Wimberley advanced to the 2018 UIL 4A area round because it recorded twice as many wins as losses, and has the necessary returning players to advance to a 25th consecutive postseason in 2019. The Texans have a versatile player in Olivia Linton, who is an outside hitter, middle blocker and opposite hitter. Joining her is opposite hitter Rayna Pack, middle blocker Payton Knight and outside hitter Holly Harwood. Pack is a Lubbock Christian University commit and Knight will play beyond high school at Mary Hardin-Baylor. Other depth will come from Paige Crawford, Brina Jones, Jordan McFarland and Rhyan Masur.
Lockhart Lady Lions (Reached 2018 UIL 5A Bi-district Round)
Lockhart won 28 games and advanced to the UIL 5A bi-district round in 2018, but has to turn to new leaders in 2019. The Lady Lions only have two returning starters, so the roles of outside hitters Kallie Krenz and Kaylee Reynolds, libero Karleigh Caudillo and defensive specialist Lani Adair will be enhanced this season. Additional depth will come from setter Mikayla Leyva and middle blocker MaKynzee Reynolds, who round out the roster.
La Grange Leopards (Reached 2018 UIL 4A Bi-District Round)
Photo by VYPE Media's Bradley Collier.
La Grange has spent the past 15 years making the UIL postseason, so it plans on extending the streak and building on last year's run to the UIL 4A bi-district round in 2019. The Leopards will lean on a trio that includes outside hitter Becca Heinrich, setter Aly Trlicek and defensive specialist Harley Rohde. Additional depth will come from outside hitters Lanie Doyle and Natalie Blackwell. Coach Leslie Coltrain also plans on using a faster offense and a scrappier defense to further her team's chances.
Burton Panthers (Reached 2018 UIL 2A Region IV Final)
Photo by VYPE Media's Bradley Collier.
Burton has clinched 10 consecutive UIL postseason appearances and advanced to the 2018 UIL 2A Region IV Final, so it has large expectations for the 2019 season. The Panthers have key athletes in defensive specialists Izbel Aguilar and Michaela Wilke, outside hitter Kyndal Coufal, setter Alex Countouriotis and middle hitter Cheyanne Bluntson.
Fayetteville Lions (Reached 2018 UIL 1A Region IV Final)
Fayetteville made a run to the 2018 UIL 1A Region IV Final, so it's aiming high for the 2019 season. The Lions are still expected to go a couple rounds deep in the 2019 postseason because outside hitter/defensive specialist Gracie Dyer and outside hitter Colby Deatherage are back for their senior year, and libero/setter Jackie Titus and outside hitter Avery Diggs are back for their sophomore season. Other notable figureheads are junior setter Landry Wied and freshman outside hitter Brooklyn Jaeger.
Hutto Hippos (Reached 2018 UIL 5A Region III Quarterfinal)
Hutto won 38 games and advanced to the UIL 5A Region III Quarterfinal in 2018, but is working hard to fill starter spots in 2019. The Hippos only have one returning starter, so the play of middle blocker Dashia Williams and defensive specialists Mia Lozoria and Alyssa Terrazas will be important.
Bastrop Bears (Reached 2018 UIL 5A Bi-District Round)
Bastrop only advanced to the opening round of the UIL 5A postseason in 2018, but has the necessary senior class to go a couple rounds deep in 2019. The Bears have a setter/right side hitter in Caitlyn Harman, libero Caela McGee, defensive specialist Averi Allen, and outside hitters Bella Delarosa and Zoey Croft.
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Excitement is in the air in Van Buren for the 2019 football season. Even though, the Pointers lose head coach Casey Dick, they are left with 13 returning starters coming back from the 2018 season. Crosby Tuck takes over for Dick this season and inherits the nucleus for what could be a dangerous 2019 team.
The Van Buren offense will continue to work out of the spread formation. Van Buren will utilize multiple quarterbacks throughout the course of the season, the first of those being Gary Phillips. Phillips passed for two touchdowns against a talented Fayetteville defense last season and should be a weapon in the passing game. Junior Jaiden Henry will also get an opportunity at the quarterback position. Henry is an accurate passer but is also considered a dangerous runner as well. Henry rushed for over 450 yards last season. The quarterback position is in good hands with both Phillips and Henry providing solid options at the position.
Crosby Tuck and the Pointers will have some consistency at the running back position. Brayden Rivas should see the majority of carries for the Pointers this season after rushing for almost 500 yards last season. In the victory over Rogers, Rivas racked up three touchdowns on the ground and helped lead the Pointers to a 30-20 win over the Mounties. If the threat from the passing game can take pressure off the run, this could be a dangerous offense to contend with in 2019.
With the Pointers running primarily out of the spread formation, the passing game will take priority. Van Buren has a one of the most talented wide receivers in the 7-A in the form of Jude Bartholomew. Batholomew has good speed and racked up almost 800 yards receiving last season. Another receiving option is Maury Newton, Newton has the speed and makes the plays to keep the drives going.
Van Buren High School Van Buren High School
The offensive line for the Pointers is not the biggest in the 7-A West but it is an athletic group. Pointers' fans should look for Jackson Hurst to hold down either the guard or the tackle spot. Van Buren fans should look for the offensive line to continue to gel as a unit and to improve as the year progresses.
The Pointers' defense has the potential to be the most improved unit of the team this season. Van Buren fans should look for the defensive line to be a disruptive force. Defensive end Mile Kuykendall is a player that should have a big season, after racking up 18 tackles last season. D. J. Riley will likely see time at both the defensive end and tackle positions and has been a force the past few seasons. Riley was in on 40 tackles and 2 sacks last season and has the potential to improve upon those numbers this season.
From the linebacker position, Pointers' fans should look for Devin Swearingen to be the playmaker on the defensive side of the ball once again this season. Swearingen had 90 tackles and forced two fumbles last season. T.J. Dyer will see some time at the linebacker spot this season and should cause problems for the opposing offense. The linebacking corps should be a unit that causes problems for opposing offenses throughout the season.
The Pointers' secondary is an experienced group. David Evans returns to man one of the cornerback spots for Van Buren. Evans racked up over 50 tackles last season and picked off three passes. Trent Ball is returning at the free safety spot and is looking to improve upon a season where he had 54 tackles and an interception return for a touchdown. The Van Buren secondary may be one of the most talented units on the team as the 2019 season approaches.
A playoff appearance is not out of the question for the Pointers this season. Van Buren fans should expect some growing pains at the start, but this should be an exciting season for Crosby Tuck and the Pointers.