Apr 20, 2021
Hillcrest volleyball has been doing a great job at making waves in the Dallas-Fort Worth area high school volleyball scene. The team is geared up and ready to go for this fall's season. VYPE DFW takes a look at what fans can expect from this tough squad when the season takes off.
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A Look Back
Last season, the Hillcrest Lady Panthers put in the work to finish in the second-place spot in their district with a 14-4 district record (18-14 overall). The team finished just behind an incredibly tough Dallas Wilson squad. After a tough preseason, the Lady Panthers opened district play and never looked back while continuing to advance towards playoffs. Once in playoffs, Hillcrest ended Dallas Adamson's season before falling to McKinney North.
A Look Ahead
The team is expecting a huge return from many of their key players such as Alice Thackston, Alexa Sigaran, Ariana Singh, Lakell Williams, Cameron Adams, and more. With an upperclassman-heavy squad, there's no doubt that they have their heads on their shoulders and are poised enough to walk into this next season as strong as ever. The team has seen many of the roadblocks they will be facing and never backs down from a challenge!
What To Expect
Fans can expect fast-paced play from this Hillcrest squad. Knowing what they're going up against will propel the team into another strong season with what could possibly be an incredible start in the preseason. With power on the court, expect to see the Lady Panthers claw their way through regular season play and find themselves right back in the playoffs- maybe even further this time!
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Photo by Bradley Collier
THROUGHOUT THE 2021-22 SEASON, THE KING’S RIDGE WRESTLING TEAM LIVED BY A BIBLE PASSAGE – PROVERBS 27:17.
“Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
That approach is what the first year King’s Ridge wrestling program lived by. When the program started, the expectation was around four to six wrestlers in year one. There were 15.
“Wrestling was at the top of my list in terms of new programs to start at KR,” Athletic Director Crissy Watkins said. “We secured a facility to train off campus, announced the program, and it took off.
The Tigers went on to compete in the 2022 GAPPS State Tournament and finished as the team State Runner-Up.
Walker Harris, Andrew Kiser and Ren Gilmer finished as State runner-ups in their respective weight classes. Harris competed in the 130-pound division, Kiser in the 155-pound class and Gilmer in the 285-pound class.
All were selected as all-state.
In the 142-pound class, Carson Salvatierra took third and Max Moore placed fifth; in 155 Ethan Dorsett placed fourth; in 170 Perry Kolton and Hank Holt took sixth and seventh, respectively. In the 184-pound division, it was Branch Shaw and Mack Halsima taking fourth and fifth.“
Coach Thierry Chau did an incredible job leading our kids and building their confidence,” Watkins said.
“Some might not know that Thierry was a two-time champion in high school, an All-American, and he wrestled on scholarship at Northwestern. He’s coached at some of the best programs in the area as well so we’re fortunate to have him heading up the program.”
Having a banner year in just the first season has brought a sense of excitement about the new Tigers’ sport around the halls of KRCS.
“This first season will always be a memorable one for the school and we expect the program to keep growing,” Watkins said. “We’re looking at fielding a middle school team and finding opportunities to get our Lower School kids involved as well.”
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Photo by Bradley Collier
AFTER HER SOPHOMORE SEASON, AVERY HODGE MADE A DECISION THAT DRASTICALLY ALTERED THE ROAD OF HER HIGH SCHOOL CAREER.
Hodge, a softball phenom as soon as she stepped onto the Tompkins High campus as a freshman, left the Katy ISD school for Fort Bend Christian Academy. Sure, she wanted to compete for a State Championship and felt the Eagles could get her there. But more than that, Hodge wanted to right her ways academically.
“I really had to lock in and get focused,” Hodge said. “At Tompkins, I wouldn’t really care so much about my schoolwork. But the teachers here pushed me hard. The competition in this school academically made me want to do well and pushed me to do better.”
It wasn’t easy on either end.
“At first, it was a struggle,” Hodge said. “It wasn’t as competitive as other teams I’d been on, but it helped me work on other things I needed work on, like teamwork and leadership.
“I learned to look out for everybody instead of just doing my own thing.”
Academically, it was also a considerable adjustment period.
“It’s something I struggled with more generally, but this school really helped me,” Hodge said. “Teachers keep us more engaged. Before I got here, I would sleep a lot in class. Here, not only do they keep you involved with things, but they make sure you actually understand what you’re learning. It’s not just a bunch of tests being given to you right away.”
The maturity of Hodge’s decision is a significant part of her make-up as she graduates Fort Bend Christian Academy this spring. It’s a testament to her character and competitive nature to push herself and do what’s best in the long run.
Hodge is going to Oklahoma, one of the premier softball programs in the nation, to play shortstop. Twice, she has been named to USA Softball’s Junior Women’s National Team.
Last season, her first at FBCA, Hodge helped the Eagles to the State Semifinals, hitting .762 with 48 RBIs and eight home runs. This season, she’s added pitching ace to her resume, as irrepressible of a force in the circle as she is in the box .
She’s no slouch on the volleyball court, either. Hodge is, in fact, a State Champion, helping FBCA to the TAPPS 5A State Championship last winter. She was a first-team, allstate libero with 375 digs.
In two seasons on the volleyball court as an Eagle, Hodge averaged 3.3 digs per set, adding 75 aces and 10 kills.
“The Junior Women’s National Team is probably my biggest accomplishment,” Hodge said. “The State Championship is something I’ll never forget.”
Hodge has always had things in order. She’s always had an idea of who she was and what she wanted to do.
She committed to Oklahoma in September 2017, around the start of her eighth-grade year.
“It was a stress reliever,” she said. “I didn’t have to be in that process of texting colleges and worrying about getting looked at. I could just focus on working on what I needed to for college and getting better, so that when I got to OU, I’ll be ready to go.”
Hodge is a natural athlete.
Take pitching, for instance. Hodge only pitched in spot moments last year. But, because of team need, she stepped up to take over the No. 1 role this season. As the season has gone on, she is throwing harder and her spin keeps improving. Relying on a deadly curveball and screwball, Hodge has a veteran’s knack for keeping the ball in the zone and throwing strikes.
She can do anything if she puts her mind to it. She’ll do whatever it takes to win.
Hodge wants nothing more than to finish her senior year with another State Championship. It would mean so much to get one in softball.
But no matter how gaudy the statistics or how memorable the wins, Hodge wants to be remembered for much more. Her legacy is in who she is, not what she does.
“Hopefully, having a good attitude and trying hard in whatever I did,” she said. “Helping my teammates up and just encouraging others to be the best they can be. I want to be remembered as someone who wanted to win and helped my team and teammates do that.”
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