FULSHEAR — Katy Jordan’s initial foray into Class 6A was an impressive one.
The Warriors’ volleyball team topped a quality Cy Woods club 3-1 (21-25, 25-14, 25-20, 25-19) in its season-opener at home Tuesday evening, showing off a dynamic 1-2 punch in senior Ella Folse and junior Ella Koch, and promising young talent at the net.
Jordan, which opened its doors in 2020, is making the move up to 6A this year. The Warriors went 19-19 in District 19-5A last season, finishing fifth in a competitive district.
“It’s super exciting to step up from a great, tough 5A district to be able to play with our fellow Katy ISD (in one district),” said Folse, a Sam Houston State commit who had 15 kills and six aces to lead Jordan. “We’re excited for the challenge. We know it’s going to be tough but we’re working hard to get a playoff spot.”
\u201c.@JordanHSVball senior @_Ella_Folse talks about the Warriors\u2019 season-opening win over Cy Woods tonight and more. Folse had 15 kills and six aces in the win. Jordan is making the move up to Class 6A this year. #txhsvb @JordanHSAthlet1 @KatyJordanAT1 @KatyISDAthletic\u201d— VYPE Houston (@VYPE Houston) 1660093577
Jordan dropped the first set as errors and the attacking skills of seniors Emily Schaper (three kills, two aces) and Jordan Columbus (three kills) ran roughshod.
In the second set, however, Folse took over. The 6-foot-1 outside hitter had three kills and five aces as the Warriors jumped out to a 13-2 lead.
At one point, Folse served on nine consecutive points for the Warriors. She said she is stronger on her feet this season, getting on top of the ball rather than just overrunning it, and staying low on defense.
Folse is also in a better place mentally. She gives positive self-talks before every game.
\u201c.@_Ella_Folse is straight up dominating this second set for @JordanHSVball. She\u2019s got a kill and five acres in this set alone as Jordan is out to a huge lead, 13-2. #txhsvb @JordanHSAthlet1\u201d— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1660087333
“She’s been huge but not just on the court,” Jordan coach Jennifer Vaden said of her star player. “She’s been so important off the court with being a leader and buying in. She’s a right-side and I changed her to a six-rotation outside (hitter) last year, and you have to have a lot of trust in me to see it and stick with it. She just figures things out. She’s someone who picks people up and really does well embracing an environment that frees up and allows kids to make mistakes and not get upset about it.”
The Warriors were hardly threatened the rest of the way aside from a brief stretch in the fourth set, when the Wildcats rallied from a 17-11 deficit to tie it at 18-18. But Jordan closed the game on a 5-1 run to seal the deal, thanks to terrific play at the net from Damisi Osibodu, Abbie O’Shea and Addison Oglesby.
\u201c.@JordanHSVball takes the season-opening win over Cy Woods, 3-1. They get the fourth set, 25-18. Impressive effort for the new 6A program. #txhsvb @JordanHSAthlet1 @KatyISDAthletic\u201d— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1660092655
“We’re really good at turning a run around and getting out of a rut really quickly,” Folse said. “We had great energy on the court. We did a great job of getting in and out of huddles and resetting.”
Cy Woods graduated eight seniors from last year’s 33-12 regional quarterfinalist team. But Jordan fosters a young roster.
Two sophomores, Osibodu and O’Shea, and two freshmen, Emmy Nicholas and Ava Ribakovs, saw substantial playing time Tuesday. Osibodu and O’Shea each has a reach of almost 10 feet, Nicholas is impactful as a defensive specialist and Ribakovs flashed a lot of skill as a right-side setter.
Koch had 11 kills and two blocks. O’Shea had eight kills and two blocks. Osibodu had five kills, five blocks and two aces.
“We have a brand new team,” Folse said. “Everyone is coming in together. We’ve really been working on defense, big, out-of-system, covering … we know everyone will have big blocks in 6A and big swings. We’re ready for that and training hard.”
Vaden said her team has to be more disciplined on the blocks and on defense but she’s confident it will come.
There is so much to like right now.
One thing is the culture.
“We talk about how important every day is, from how we work to how we hustle in practice,” Vaden said. “Everything we do puts us in a position to come out here and be able to execute, even while young. We take intentional reps that starts in the spring but also means being smart in club and all of that. We get a chance to be a first-time varsity in 6A, so what are we going to do? How do we keep that purpose every time we get in the gym? If you can do it in a gym in practice, you can find a way to do it when the games are real.”
Another thing, as a byproduct of said culture, is leadership. Vaden has a difficult time singling out any one player, or players, as leaders.
“We do a district-wide spring leadership (program) of captains, and I take my whole returning varsity because they need to know what a real leader looks like,” Vaden said. “They keep each other accountable, which is really hard in high school. There is a vision here that everybody is valuable on this team, and everybody is pushing everybody.”
As the cross country season begins to creep up on us, it's time for fans to pick who they believe should have the honor of being the VYPE DFW Public School Cross Country Runner of the Year! With plenty of area athletes graduating, the Dallas-Fort Worth area will see a rise in the young athletes making a name for themselves this fall. Be sure to get your vote in!
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Being the setter at The Woodlands is the equivalent of being the starting running back for Katy in football. It's one of the most coveted positions in all of high school sports in the state of Texas.
Here’s the lineage of former Highlanders hard-court quarterbacks. Courtney Eckenrode (2 State Titles and played at Missouri), passed the baton to Sophie Walls (played at Penn State), who passed the torch to Clara Brower (Georgia). That’s some great company.
After Brower came Claire Dewine, who led the Highlanders to the Class 6A Region II Championship match in 2021. The 6-foot-1 setter-outside hitter was the District 13-6A Offensive MVP and first-team, all-state selection as a junior and is a nightmare matchup for opponents.
“When I was eight years old, my club team coaches moved me up to the 10-year- old team,” Dewine said. “When I was nine, I was playing with the 12s. I just got used to playing with older girls and that’s how I got good.
“My versatility came from playing beach. You have to be able to do everything when it’s just two of you out there. I played so much beach during the pandemic when the gyms were shut down and it really helped my game.”
Dewine has had an interesting ride during her high school career. She was on varsity as a freshman for the Highlanders, before moving to The Woodlands Christian Academy as a sophomore.
“My brother went to TWCA and my family was very familiar with the school,” she said. “I wanted to try a smaller school and I liked it a lot. The academics, coaching and facilities were great, but I just needed to get back to the big-school level.”
She was an all-state selection and led the Warriors to a district title.
Her high school and club play with Houston Juniors propelled her onto the recruiting scene. She had several offers and committed to Colgate in the fall.
“It’s a pretty academic school and when I went on my visit I just fell in love with the team and the campus,” she said of the Hamilton, New York school. “I’m going to study economics and I’d like to do something in business in the future. I just felt that Colgate was the best place to set me up in the future.”
While Dewine seems to have the world on a string, she will be playing with a heavy heart this year. She lost her father in June as he battled pancreatic cancer.
“It’s been pretty hard,” she said. “I know he’s in a better place and not in so much pain anymore. I’m focusing on the positive. He was my biggest fan and really understood the game and my potential.”
With a guardian angel looking over her, she and the Highlanders could have a magical season.
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