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.
VYPE Volleyball Insider Chuck Licata breaks down the statewide picture.
Byron Nelson continues to hold on to the No. 1 spot, while Houston-area teams Pearland Dawson and Klein come in at No. 3 and No. 5, respectively. The lone change to the Top 10 is Mansfield moving from unranked to No. 10.
Check out the full Top 20 below.
Rank, (Last Week), Team, (Record)
1. (1) Byron Nelson (34-1)
2. (2) Lewisville Flower Mound (27-3)
3. (3) Dawson (31-4)
4. (4) Plano West (25-4)
5. (5) Klein (28-4)