HOUSTON – This weekend will determine a lot.
Can Fort Bend Ridge Point punch its ticket to a second-straight UIL Volleyball State Tournament? Can Pearland Dawson get to its second-straight regional final and first ever state tournament?
There are so many questions to be answered. Let's breakdown what the Region II tournament looks like and who could come out of it in Huntsville.
Klein and The Woodlands are on a potential collision course in Huntsville. The two Houston-area powers with wins on Friday would play for a spot at state on Saturday.
But first, they must win.
Klein has now made it to the Regional Semifinals for a third-straight season but the Bearkats are still looking for their first Regional Finals appearance since 2002. Led by Kate Zora, Klein has gone 40-6 this year after going 14-2 in district play. The Bearkats are led by Annie Antar's 491 kills and 620 assists, while Clemson-commit Devan Taylor has chipped in 273. Gaby Mansfield has chipped in 734 digs, while Camy Kling has a team-leading 774 assists.
As the bracket goes, Klein would have to take down Prosper, which won the Class 5A State Championship in 2017.
Prosper, just like Klein is loaded with a solid junior class. The group is led by Sami Jacobs, who has a team-leading 330 kills and 387 digs and is followed by Bailey Birmingham with 226 kills. Nikki Steinheiser leads the team in digs with 387 and Mackenzie Jefferson leads the team with 797 assists.
Prosper is favored in this match just since they have been there and done that along with the experience of head coach Erin Kauffman.
But it is time for Klein to get over the hump. With the combination of Antar and Taylor at the net, Klein has the players to make it to a regional final for the first time in 17 years.
VYPE Prediction: Klein 3, Prosper 1
The Woodlands is waiting on the other side of the bracket with a chance for redemption.
Last season, the Highlanders streak of Regional Finals appearances ended at five-straight years with a 3-1 loss to Plano West. Now, with a rematch set, you know The Woodlands is ready.
LSU-commit Dylan Maberry leads the group with an unbelievable 708 kills, while freshman Julieta Valdes has 314 kills to follow behind. Georgia-commit Clara Brower leads the team with 1,516 assists and is coming off the 3-2 win over Vandergrift, where she had a season-high 60. Allie Griffith leads the team with 731 digs.
The Woodlands is ultra-talented this year and with the emergence of Valdes on the outside to go with Maberry, that is a deadly combination.
Plano West has turned in another good season, reaching the Regional Semifinals in back to back years for the first time since 2007-2008. The Wolves will try and upset The Woodlands for its second-straight trip to the Regional Finals. Last season, Plano West reached the state semifinals.
Jill Pressly leads the team with 493 kills and 345 digs, followed by Iman Ndiaye's 369 and Noelle Piatas' 326. That trio was on the floor for Plano West a year ago and knows what it takes to get to state. Morgan Carter, just a junior, leads the team with 354 digs and Ashley Le leads the group in assists with 693 followed by Sydney Yap's 528.
The Woodlands is not about to go in there and lose in the Regional Semifinals for a second-straight year.
VYPE Prediction: The Woodlands 3, Plano West 2
If our predictions come true, it would be an all-Houston Regional Final on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Huntsville, so who would go to state?
It would be the third time The Woodlands and Klein have met this season. Klein handed The Woodlands a 3-0 loss early in the year and then the Highlanders returned the favor with a 3-1 victory later. So much college talent would be on the floor at once in this one but who wins?
The Woodlands in a nail-biting, instant classic.
VYPE Prediction: The Woodlands 3, Klein 2
The strength of District 13-6A volleyball showed through this past Monday and Tuesday as the four 13-6A qualifiers (Westwood, Vandegrift, Vista Ridge and Round Rock) all won their bi-district matchups.
However, the strength of Houston-area District 15-6A shined through Thursday night as second-ranked The Woodlands swept Vista Ridge in three sets while 14th-ranked Klein upended Round Rock in four sets.
Teri Wade's Highlanders weren't challenged much by an up-and-coming Vista Ridge team coached by Holly Lamb. The Woodlands (46-4 overall) swept Vista Ridge (26-20) in straight sets (25-12, 25-18, 25-12) at Brenham High School.
"We always get everyone's best (game), but I'm proud of the girls in staying consistent tonight," stated Wade, who's in her fifth year at the school; she's taken the Highlanders to the Regional Tournament four straight years. "Vista Ridge put up a good fight tonight; they are coached very well and they played well together."
Senior Dylan Maberry slammed a match-high 14 kills and added four total blocks and 15 digs.. Fellow senior Amanda Ifeanyi was all over the court, tallying 11 kills, serving up one ace, making two digs and making one total block.
Junior setter Clara Brower dished out 33 assists, made 10 digs and punched through four kills while senior libero Allie Griffith dug out 10 balls.
The Rangers lose four seniors – Ashley Anderson, Izzy Burratto, Ryanne Johnson and Molly Mastronardt – but will return nine juniors, one sophomore and one freshman to a deep squad next season.
"I'm extremely proud of my team this season," Lamb said afterwards. "We showed tremendous growth throughout the year. The Woodlands is a very good team but I thought our girls fought hard.
The Rangers did have eight players with at least one kill, led by junior Ava Dahl with four and Katelyn Kreinke with three.
"I'm proud of our seniors. Their sophomore year, our program won just six matches. Last year we finished second in district and this year, we made it to the area round. Their work ethic has laid a great foundation for this program moving forward."
Meantime the Round Rock Dragons rallied from a two-game deficit against Klein and broke through for a 25-20 win in Game 3. The Dragons then took a 13-9 lead in Game 4 before a 5-1 scoring run got Klein to within one, 15-14. Later, with the game tied at 18-18, Kate Zora's Bearkats ran off a 3-0 run, leading 21-18. They were able to match Round Rock point-for-point in closing out the match, 25-21.
"This is the largest group of seniors (13) in Round Rock history," Watson declared. "They are one of the hardest-working, supportive group of seniors with which I've had the pleasure of working.
"Their presence will be missed by the coaching staff, as well as their peers."
Senior Lauren Malone finished her illustrious 3-year varsity career at Round Rock with 12 kills. Fellow senior Sarah Keilen added 17 assists, three kills and two aces. Senior Joley Plummer chipped in with two kills and two aces.
The Bearkats used seven aces and six team blocks to power past Round Rock.
Kierstyn McFall made two blocks, had an ace and six digs while dunking 11 kills past the Dragons. Other Klein contributors included Annie Antar (match-high 15 kills, 22 assists, seven digs, one block and one ace); Devan Taylor (match-high 25 digs, 12 kills, one ace and one block) Ariana Brown (six kills, four digs, two aces and one block), Mikayla Simpson (seven kills) and Camy King (23 assists and 10 digs).
Elsewhere Thursday, Cedar Park (24-21) continued its emerging season under first-year coach Lori McLaughlin as the Timberwolves smoked highly-favored Grand Oaks of Houston (37-11) in three sets, 25-20, 27-25 and 25-20.
CPHS Senior Jaelyn Grimm and juniors Avery Cole and Abbi Lemmond each had seven kills, while sophomore Kate Alex slammed six. Cole added four aces and four total blocks and senior Olivia Meyer dished out 31 assists for Cedar Park, who awaits the winner of Friday's College Station/Georgetown East View match for next week's Region III quarterfinals.