Boy, I thought I was so smart.
Last year, I revealed my "2018 Dazzling Dozen" state volleyball awards, simply (and ignorantly) keeping it down to the Top 24 players that I saw with my own eyes.
I will tell anyone who will listen: Texas has the greatest volleyball players in the country. Period. And keep in mind I have access to the knowledge of hundreds of coaches around the state; to Josh Koch of VYPE Houston; and, to the greatest Texas High School volleyball mind around, Butch Hart of the Texas Girls Coaches Association.
So my "ignorance" from last year is the fact I only named 24 of the best players that I saw. There's just too many great players to keep any list down to a Top 24. To make amends (to myself, mostly), I expanded the 2019 Dazzling Dozen to five Superlative Awards; first, second and third teams; and, a dozen honorable mentions.
Remember: there's no politics in my choices. These are players I saw in person (thanks to the great folks at VYPE Media, I got to watch over 150 teams compete); there's no "spreading the love," in trying to get as many teams and players mentioned as possible.
Just the best of the best.
Thus, my Dazzling Dozen: the best players whom I saw this season that leave everything out on the court. Not that others didn't but these are the ones who made a big impression on me. These are the student-athletes whom I'd pick if I were heading up a volleyball team (or two).
And yes, since these are my personal choices, you're welcome to give me your thoughts directly – hit me up at email@example.com
Chuck Licata's 2019 Volleyball Dazzling Dozen
Player, School (Year) Coach
Co-Players of the Year:
Payton Chamberlain, Byron Nelson (Jr) Brianne Groth
Paige Flickinger, Byron Nelson (Sr) Brianne Groth
Hitter of the Year:
Kaylee Cox, Flower Mound (Jr) Jamie Siegel
Setter of the Year:
Averi Carlson, Lovejoy (Jr) Ryan Mitchell
Utility Player of the Year:
Avery Kalsu, Dripping Springs (Sr) Michael Kane
Libero of the Year:
Sarah Martinez, Flower Mound (Jr) Jamie Siegel
Cecily Bramschreiber, Lovejoy (Jr) Ryan Mitchell
Charitie Luper, Byron Nelson (Jr) Brianne Groth
Dylan Maberry, The Woodlands (Sr) Teri Wade
Iman Ndiaye, Plano West (Sr) Justin Waters
Grayson Schirpik, Rouse (Sr) Jacob Thompson
Annabelle Smith, Southlake Carroll (Sr) Teresa Dunn
Clara Brower, The Woodlands (Jr) Teri Wade
Reagan Rutherford, Ridge Point (Sr) Lauryn Bailey
Jill Pressly, Plano West (Sr) Justin Waters
Brooke Slusser, Guyer (Jr) Heather Van Noy
Gia Santini, Byron Nelson (Sr) Brianne Groth
Callie Kemohah, Lovejoy (Jr) Ryan Mitchell
Ally Batenhorst, Seven Lakes (Jr) Amy Cataline
Ellie Echter, Fulshear (Jr) Syndey Gotcher
Brianna Ford, Randall (Sr) Haleigh Burns
Samantha Jacobs, Prosper (Sr) Erin Kauffman
Claire Jeter, Ridge Point (Sr) Lauryn Bailey
Makensy Manbeck, Friendswood (Sr) Sarah Paulk
Shelby O'Neal, Clemens (Sr) Robyn Wunderlich
Lexi Moody, Crawford (Sr) Jeff Coker
Tori Weatherley, Friendswood (Sr) Sarah Paulk
Reilly Heinrich, Rouse (Sr) Jacob Thompson
Nia McCardell, Ridge Point (Sr) Lauryn Bailey
Annie Antar, Klein (Jr) Kate Zora
Angelique Cyr, Flower Mound (Jr) Jamie Siegel
Alexis Dacosta, Fulshear (Soph) Sydney Gotcher
Kylann Griffith, Vanderbilt Industrial (Sr) Kelsey Vasquez
Jaelyn Grimm, Cedar Park (Sr) Lori McLaughlin
Alicia Hearn, Sachse (Sr) Rikki Jones
Alexia Jones, Dawson (Jr) Lauren Leth
Libby Overmyer, Kingwood Park (Sr) Kelly Mizer
Lexi Rogers, Neches (Jr) Morgan Roberson
Anne Williams, Crawford (Sr) Jeff Coker
Kenzie Beckham, Westwood (Jr) Tara Grant
Emma Becker, Liberty Hill (Soph) Gretchen Peterson
Maddie Correa, SA (Sr) Reagan Rachel Torvik
Delaney Dilfer, Vandegrift (Sr) Melissa Southall
Kara Erfurth, Rouse (Sr) Jacob Thompson
Emery Herman, Georgetown (Sr) Jenny Richardson
Chloe Jordan, Pearland (Sr) Christian Dunn
Alessandra Meoni, Friendswood (Jr) Sarah Paulk
Audrey Quesnel, Westwood (Sr) Tara Grant
Kamryn Scroggins, Dawson (Soph) Lauren Leth
Annie Stadthaus, Vandegrift (Sr) Melissa Southall
Kyndal Stowers, Guyer (Fr) Heather Van Noy
Ryann Torres, Hays (Sr) Ashley Davis
Ragan Ward, Waxahachie (Sr) Sandy Faussett
Jamison Wheeler, Lake Travis (Jr) Brandace Boren
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.