VYPE's next grouping falls just under the radar as it relates to statewide rankings in our Dark Horses category, but don' t be surprised if any of these squads punch their ticket to the state tournament .
Some are bluebloods like Cy-Fair, Memorial and Oak Ridge, while teams like Shadow Creek and Clear Springs are the up - and - comers. Regardless, these 10 programs have a legit shot at state and could play spoiler to the favorites.
Barbers Hill Eagles
(Reached Class 5A Regional Quarterfinals)
In her first year as a head coach, Kristin Goodman led her Barbers Hill Eagles to an 11-1 district record and the District 21-5A crown. Goodman came over to the eastside after being the lead assistant at Friendswood. The Eagles got off to a slow start in a competitive tournament season, but started to peak in the regular season. The competitive scheduling paid off as Barbers Hill reached the third round before falling to Friendswood. So, what will she do for an encore in year two? Gone are the highly-decorated Jessica Hardin and Macy Sumrall to graduation but back is all-state setter Trinity Hennigan, who had 1,179 assists. She has some firepower to set for in Faith Guidry (130 kills), Sarah Lankford (151 kills) and Kylee Kejonen (171 kills). Having those kinds of numbers coming back, the big three outsides make the nest tremendously balanced.
Halle Sanders, Amber Johnson and Alexis Williams, Shadow Creek
Shadow Creek Sharks
(Reached Class 5A Area Round)
Since its opening, Shadow Creek has reached the postseason every year. In fact, the Sharks have won a playoff game each season. More history could be made in 2019 as Shadow Creek returns some serious firepower. Back is District 24-5A Newcomer of the Year Alexis Williams, who had 364 kills, 441 assists and 317 digs a year ago and plays all the way around. The Chicago State-commit can play defense as well as set. Also, back is all-district, first-teamer Halle Sanders (282 kills, 240 digs), who is another lethal Shark that is tremendously versatile on defense and on the edge. Amber Johnson (235 kills, 281 digs) is another first-team, all-district selection back in the fold for coach Whitney Daniel. Arianne Renaud (182 kills) will also be a significant contributor. Shadow Creek fell in the second round to Friendswood after finishing third in district play behind Foster and Manvel. District positioning will be key to the Sharks' playoff progression. They also need to have another ball-handler emerge.
(Reached Class 6A Area Round)
Cy-Fair cruised through District 17-6A, going 15-1 for another title under the direction of legendary coach Donna Benotti, who earned her 700th career win as a head coach last season. Benotti is happy to welcome back District Hitter of the Year Bekah Portalatin, who is just a junior. She will be one of the city's and state's most lethal offensive weapons. Complementing Portalatin will be first-teamer Lauryn Bourne, who can crush the ball. Second-teamer Faith Jones will also help juice up the offense. In the middle are Sophie Scott and youngster Audura Sogsbean, who will both be better after a varsity and summer club season under their belts. Kara Spice returns as a first-team, all-district libero to anchor the defense. Finding a setter to step in for Elyse Buras will be key to the Bobcats' success.
Emma McWhorter, Mekaila Aupiu, Sarah Rogers and Erin Wyatt, Klein Collins
Klein Collins Tigers
(Reached Class 6A Regioanl Quarterfinals)
The Klein Collins Tigers made school history in 2018, advancing to the Regional Quarters before bowing out to The Woodlands. With realignment last year, the Tigers were tossed into one of the toughest districts in the state joining the likes of The Woodlands, Oak Ridge and College Park. Klein Collins scratched out a fourth-place finish in the district, before going on their historic run. Amanda McMeans leaves the program in great shape as Kingwood Park (Class 5A State Champs) assistant Kasey Price takes over at Klein Collins. The cupboard is certainly not bare, and leading the den for Price will be Emma McWhorter in the middle. The second-teamer has committed to Louisiana-Lafayette. She is joined up front by second-teamer Sarah Rogers. Running the offense is Mekaila Aupiu, who has grown into the setter position. The heavyhanded Erin Wyatt (Georgia State-commit) will lead the hitting attack for the Tigers. With a year of playing together last season, the experience should result in a higher district finish.