High School Volleyball

Batenhorst’s 31 kills pace Seven Lakes past Cinco Ranch in regional quarters

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 11/28/20

On the court, Seven Lakes senior outside hitter Ally Batenhorst loves to destroy.

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High School Volleyball

Batenhorst’s 31 kills pace Seven Lakes past Cinco Ranch in regional quarters

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On the court, Seven Lakes senior outside hitter Ally Batenhorst loves to destroy.

As quick as she is with a smile off the court, the Nebraska signee is just as quick to power through blocks on it.

“I’m mad,” Batenhorst said with a laugh when asked what she thinks about every time she goes up for a swing. “I want to win. I just want to win. I just want to hit as hard as I can and hope they shake it, and be smart, too, obviously. If I hit harder, it’s harder to defend.”

The 6-foot-4 Batenhorst is a nightmare to defend, and that was once again the case against Cinco Ranch on Saturday evening. Behind Batenhorst’s 31 kills, Seven Lakes topped its District 19-6A rival 3-1 (25-20, 25-14, 16-25, 25-15) in their Class 6A regional quarterfinal playoff game at the Merrell Center.

The No. 4 state-ranked Spartans improved to 22-1 and halted an impressive postseason run by the Cougars that included wins over state semifinalist Ridge Point and regional finalist Cy-Fair.

Seven Lakes will play Pearland Dawson (22-3) in a regional semifinal Monday at 5 p.m. at Wheeler Fieldhouse in Sugar Land.

“It’s definitely more personal when it’s a district rival,” Batenhorst said. “It’s hard to beat a team three times, so we knew that and we focused in practice and we focused on having energy and bringing everyone up. This wasn’t some other district game, and we knew that.”

In the playoffs, Batenhorst is averaging eight kills per set, about 1.5 more than her season average. She has a kill percentage 50.5, which means more than half of her hit attempts score points.

“She has a whip for an arm,” Seven Lakes coach Amy Cataline said. “She has a fast arm swing, and that’s what happens when you power through the ball at that speed.”

The Spartans’ lone blemish was an uncharacteristic third set where they looked lackluster and sloppy. A lot of that had to do with Cinco Ranch, which had no trouble swinging through Seven Lakes’ block in the middle.

Senior outside hitter Kayla Griebl was exceptional for the Cougars with seven kills in the third set. She scored six of Cinco Ranch’s final eight points.

Largely because of Griebl (21 kills) and sophomore outside hitter Courtney O’Brien (12 kills), Cinco Ranch was tough to put away.

“We played with a lot of intensity and a lot of heart,” Cataline said. “They did not take for granted the fact that we beat them in district. They definitely respected their opponent and I’m proud of how serious they took this, as far as what happened in district didn’t matter.”

Aside from Batenhorst, junior outside hitter Emma Schroder was key with eight kills. Schroder has been praised by Batenhorst and Cataline for her work ethic in emerging as a strong attacker opposite Batenhorst.

She has gotten better with each round of the playoffs. In the bi-district win over Dulles, Schroder had four kills. In the area win over Cy-Creek, she had five.

“Getting my feet to the ball and getting a good swing have been big,” Schroder said. “Finding my positions on the court. I have Ally to help me with that, and I have (setter) Casey (Batenhorst) to help me get in those spots.”

The Spartans are in the regional semifinals for the second time in three seasons. For them to reach the regional finals for the first time since 2017, more will be counted upon from Batenhorst and Schroder.

“We’re doing great,” Schroder said. “We have a lot of energy and a lot of heart. The way we’re playing right now, I really do think we’ll have a chance at state.”

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