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Fort Bend Christian Academy’s Bayleigh Minor, Layne Bulow, Hadley Hodge and Shea Stone
Welcome to the 2022 Texas high school volleyball season!
We are just a couple of weeks away from the first serve going up into the air here in Houston. With the release of the 2022 VYPE Houston Volleyball Preview Magazine, it officially marks the start of "talking" season as we preview the best teams and players in the city.
With that, here is the VYPE Preseason Top 5 for private school programs.
Avery Hodge, FBCA
AFTER HER SOPHOMORE SEASON, AVERY HODGE MADE A DECISION THAT DRASTICALLY ALTERED THE ROAD OF HER HIGH SCHOOL CAREER.
Hodge, a softball phenom as soon as she stepped onto the Tompkins High campus as a freshman, left the Katy ISD school for Fort Bend Christian Academy. Sure, she wanted to compete for a State Championship and felt the Eagles could get her there. But more than that, Hodge wanted to right her ways academically.
“I really had to lock in and get focused,” Hodge said. “At Tompkins, I wouldn’t really care so much about my schoolwork. But the teachers here pushed me hard. The competition in this school academically made me want to do well and pushed me to do better.”
It wasn’t easy on either end.
“At first, it was a struggle,” Hodge said. “It wasn’t as competitive as other teams I’d been on, but it helped me work on other things I needed work on, like teamwork and leadership.
“I learned to look out for everybody instead of just doing my own thing.”
Academically, it was also a considerable adjustment period.
“It’s something I struggled with more generally, but this school really helped me,” Hodge said. “Teachers keep us more engaged. Before I got here, I would sleep a lot in class. Here, not only do they keep you involved with things, but they make sure you actually understand what you’re learning. It’s not just a bunch of tests being given to you right away.”
The maturity of Hodge’s decision is a significant part of her make-up as she graduates Fort Bend Christian Academy this spring. It’s a testament to her character and competitive nature to push herself and do what’s best in the long run.
Hodge is going to Oklahoma, one of the premier softball programs in the nation, to play shortstop. Twice, she has been named to USA Softball’s Junior Women’s National Team.
Last season, her first at FBCA, Hodge helped the Eagles to the State Semifinals, hitting .762 with 48 RBIs and eight home runs. This season, she’s added pitching ace to her resume, as irrepressible of a force in the circle as she is in the box .
She’s no slouch on the volleyball court, either. Hodge is, in fact, a State Champion, helping FBCA to the TAPPS 5A State Championship last winter. She was a first-team, allstate libero with 375 digs.
In two seasons on the volleyball court as an Eagle, Hodge averaged 3.3 digs per set, adding 75 aces and 10 kills.
“The Junior Women’s National Team is probably my biggest accomplishment,” Hodge said. “The State Championship is something I’ll never forget.”
Hodge has always had things in order. She’s always had an idea of who she was and what she wanted to do.
She committed to Oklahoma in September 2017, around the start of her eighth-grade year.
“It was a stress reliever,” she said. “I didn’t have to be in that process of texting colleges and worrying about getting looked at. I could just focus on working on what I needed to for college and getting better, so that when I got to OU, I’ll be ready to go.”
Hodge is a natural athlete.
Take pitching, for instance. Hodge only pitched in spot moments last year. But, because of team need, she stepped up to take over the No. 1 role this season. As the season has gone on, she is throwing harder and her spin keeps improving. Relying on a deadly curveball and screwball, Hodge has a veteran’s knack for keeping the ball in the zone and throwing strikes.
She can do anything if she puts her mind to it. She’ll do whatever it takes to win.
Hodge wants nothing more than to finish her senior year with another State Championship. It would mean so much to get one in softball.
But no matter how gaudy the statistics or how memorable the wins, Hodge wants to be remembered for much more. Her legacy is in who she is, not what she does.
“Hopefully, having a good attitude and trying hard in whatever I did,” she said. “Helping my teammates up and just encouraging others to be the best they can be. I want to be remembered as someone who wanted to win and helped my team and teammates do that.”