SUGAR LAND — Cinco Ranch looked exactly like an undefeated district volleyball champion in its Class 6A bi-district playoff game Monday, as the Cougars needed just 54 minutes for a sweep of Fort Bend Travis by scores of 25-14, 25-12, 25-13 at Wheeler Fieldhouse on Nov. 4.
Cinco Ranch (34-5) never trailed by more than two points in the game, and coach Danielle Wells didn’t have to call a single timeout. Senior captain and outside hitter Danyle Courtley immediately set the tone for the Cougars with eight kills in the first set.
Courtley finished with a team-high 16 kills, but Wells said they consciously tried to work the ball around more for other hitters as the match went on. Starting with the second set, Wells expanded her rotations to give more time to other players on the roster.
“We played them last year in the first round, so we were expecting the same kind of match-up,” she said. “I thought it was a great match to open up the playoffs with. There were things we set goals to work on, and we’re going to continue to work on that.”
Junior Kayla Griebl and senior captain Madalyn O’Brien served as the other hammers up front for the Cougars, finishing with 13 and eight kills, respectively. Senior Reece Vanslyke had two blocks and two kills upfront, and O’Brien also had four blocks. Her younger sister, freshman Courtney O’Brien, had an impressive playoff debut with four kills and a block.
The Cinco Ranch setters and back row players—sophomore Catalina Martinez, juniors Hayley Byrd and Eva Fitzgerald, and junior Brooke Hirsch—had a stellar night. With Cinco Ranch repeatedly setting up the outside hitters for strikes and staying in system, Travis didn’t have opportunity to attack often or effectively. The Tigers only averaged five kills per set.
The Cougars will play either Carnegie Vanguard, the runner-up in District 18-6A, or Cypress Falls, the third place team in District 17-6A, in the area round later this week.
Regardless, the identity of Cinco Ranch’s opponent doesn’t concern Wells.
“We’re just going to continue to work on what we need to, to get better,” she said. “When we get to the playoffs, it’s more about what we’re going to do and what’s our strategy and how we’re going to execute. We just need to continue to get better at the little things.”