High School Volleyball

First all-Katy ISD regional volleyball final one to remember

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 12/4/20

History was made Friday evening at the Merrell Center when Seven Lakes and Katy High matched up in the Class 6A Region III volleyball final.

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High School Volleyball

First all-Katy ISD regional volleyball final one to remember

Posted

History was made Friday evening at the Merrell Center when Seven Lakes and Katy High matched up in the Class 6A Region III volleyball final.

It was the first time an all-Katy ISD regional final took place in the sport's playoffs.

Seven Lakes won, 3-1, over the Tigers to advance to the state tournament next week, but the game’s significance went well beyond the score.

“We knew we weren’t playing for ourselves,” Seven Lakes junior Mayo Olibale said. “We’re playing for everyone that was here watching us. We made history, and it’s awesome.”

The 2020 Spartans are the ninth Katy ISD program to make it to state in volleyball. Seven Lakes’ second state appearance in four years is the district’s most successful volleyball era since Taylor made the state tournament twice and regional final one other time from 1990-1994.

Seven Lakes coach Amy Cataline, in her fourth season at the helm of the Spartans, knew of Katy ISD’s talent in volleyball when she was at Fort Bend Austin, her previous stop.

“It makes me very proud to be a part of Katy ISD volleyball,” said Cataline, citing the district’s competitiveness in the sport and the quality of coaching. “Even before I got into this district, I knew how stellar athletics was in Katy ISD. The support sports has in the district is phenomenal, and it lived up to every inch of what I thought of it from the outside looking in.”

Katy was the early power from the district in volleyball.

The Tigers lost to Phillips in the 1967 Class 2A state semifinals and fell to Brady in the 2A state semis the following season. In 1976, Katy lost to New Braunfels in the 3A state semis and fell to Cy-Creek in the 1989 Class 5A state semis.

The Mustangs turned the tide in their favor at the turn of the decade, losing to Dumas in the 1990 4A state semis and falling to Austin Westlake in the 4A state final the following season.

Katy and Taylor made regional final appearances in 1993 and 1994, respectively. Cinco Ranch fell to Westlake in the 2009 Class 5A state semis, and Seven Lakes was upended by Lewisville Hebron in the 2017 Class 6A state final.

But never before had two Katy ISD programs competed against each other in a volleyball regional final. That is, not before Friday.

The two teams had combined for four total losses entering the game. Seven Lakes senior Ally Batenhorst had 28 kills to lead the Spartans. Senior Perris Key had 12 kills to pace the Tigers. Both players will be continuing their volleyball careers at the NCAA Division I level.

Seven Lakes (23-1) and Katy (19-4) finished first and second, respectively, in District 19-6A this season. Two of Katy's four total losses were dealt by Seven Lakes. Even Seven Lakes' only defeat so far this season came to district rival Tompkins in a 3-1 setback in mid-November.

Seven Lakes had to beat Cinco Ranch in the regional quarterfinals late last month to earn its way this far. The Spartans, ranked No. 4 in Class 6A in the state, have dropped only 11 sets in 24 games this season. Five have come at the hands of district foes Katy, Tompkins and Cinco Ranch.

“It shows the hard work that all of our coaches put in,” Katy coach Karen Paxton said. “There’s so much work that goes in. We have amazing coaches and solid programs and you have to play your best every single night in this district.

“I’m happy it’s a Katy ISD team moving on. I know Seven Lakes will represent us and make us proud. At the end of the day, we want them to win for Katy ISD. It shows just how tough our district is.”

Prior to the game, both teams were gathered together on the Merrell Center court for a quick photo op. For the players, they’ll likely realize the magnitude of the moment later. Their focus and attention was on the game.

But there was certainly a sense that this wasn’t a typical playoff game. It meant more.

The deepest into the volleyball postseason two Katy ISD teams had played each other came in 1994, when Katy and Taylor competed in a Class 5A Region III semifinal won by the Mustangs.

“It’s different,” Seven Lakes senior Ally Batenhorst acknowledged after the win. “It’s exciting, super competitive and super personal, because we know them so well. It was a cool experience.”

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