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Coach Tommy Sustala alongside some of the stars of 2023-24 FBCA Volletyball
If Fort Bend Christian Volleyball has proven anything through the first half of the season, it is not to underestimate them. Otherwise, they will promptly show that they mean business.
Despite several stars graduating from the 2021 championship team, second-year coach Tommy Sustala quickly guided a youthful team back into the status of being title-contenders.
“Coming in last year, with pretty high expectations in the program, and losing several key players of their championship team was a daunting task,” he said. “But, we just kept building from there, and before you knew it, we hadn’t lost a district match and advanced to the State Finals.”
“This year, we’ve gained several key pieces. We’re better than we were last year, and we’re already halfway through district with several players to depend on, and the team is looking to keep that rolling.”
Bradley C. Collier (VYPE)
As Sustala acknowledged, FBCA hasn’t lost to a district opponent since their 2020-21 season. That streak was extended when they faced off against a highly-ranked adversary in the Lutheran South Pioneers, in which the Eagles trounced LSA (3-0) in their first matchup of the season.
“Our kids have taken it personally that they’ve been a little overlooked in the private school competition,” said Sustala. “I love it, as a coach. We’re not going to necessarily catch people by surprise, but kind of flying under the radar works to our advantage.”
“The road through the district and the state tournament runs through our school, so when they see another school like LSA getting deserved recognition, it gets them fired up. I love it, as a coach, because it motivates them with the important matches that stand before us.”
Jamey Wright (VYPE)
Rest assured, Fort Bend Christian (now 23-3) deservedly sits at the top of our
current private school rankings
But one stands to wonder, what has coach Sustala added to the program after the departure of
“I’ve had the great opportunity to coach some really high-level club volleyball,” he said. “With the training I’ve gained from Houston Juniors and Houston Skyline for five years each, I feel that I bring a very technical approach to the game, especially with the statistics side of things.”
“I believe that having those high-pressure matches in the world of club ball gets you well prepared as a coach, as well as for the players. That experience is invaluable when you have the depth that we do at Fort Bend Christian, and the competition we face, year after year, has really allowed us to thrive.”
Throughout this Fall, Sustala has had the luxury of working with game-changers such as
Bayleigh Minor (Jr. MB)
, Cambry Gerardi (Sr. OH), Layne Bulow (Jr. OH), Ruth Ochelli (Jr. RS), Daniela Ramirez (So. L), and Lauren LeRoux (Jr. S).
With their current trajectory, another TAPPS state title could be within the grasp of FBCA.
AT FBCA HAS BECOME SYNONYMOUS WITH EXCELLENCE OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, HAVING WON A STATE TITLE IN 2021.
This Fall was no exception, given that the TAPPS 5A defending champions cruised to an undefeated (14-0) district championship en route to advancing to the TAPPS State Final. FBCA fell 3-1 to Liberty Christian in the Finals.
The Eagles have some serious star power in middle Bayleigh Minor, who dominated as a sophomore and is only getting more explosive.
“We were working really well as a team,” said Minor. “I think we have the capability and necessary pieces on the team to go all the way next year. We will be losing both setters (Shea Stone and Emma Pekar) to graduation, but the majority of our core is returning. We’ll be fired up to run it back.”
Minor lead by example in 2022, having been selected as a TAPPS first-team, all-state honoree. She was voted as VYPE’s Houston Volleyball (Private School) Player of the Year for the second year in a row.
Despite also being a star on the track, Minor has a special appreciation for the team mentality that takes place on the volleyball court.
“In volleyball, we have a really close bond since we all have to pick each other up,” she said. “That’s what is really fun about it. It’s always one team, one set, one dig, so we need that chemistry. I like it because it helps you get that much closer with your teammates.”
As an elite dual-sport athlete, Minor has a detailed training regimen throughout the season that serves both volleyball and track and field.“
I tend to train for both sports on a frequent basis,” Minor said. “Towards the end of volleyball season for the school, I’ll start running with cross country to get my endurance up. So, there’s definitely an overlap in my sports, since I’m constantly preparing for what’s next. That’s what is necessary for me to succeed at a high level.”
As one of the premier private school athletes around, Minor is rapidly ascending to new heights. Just how far will she and FBCA volleyball go?
Tune in this upcoming Fall to see for yourself.