High School Volleyball

Sophomore Chaapel steps up for Key, Tigers in area playoff win

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 11/23/20

Senior right-side hitter Perris Key is the centerpiece of Katy High’s attack, but she has had plenty of support from plenty of different teammates during these volleyball playoffs.

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High School Volleyball

Sophomore Chaapel steps up for Key, Tigers in area playoff win

Posted

Senior right-side hitter Perris Key is the centerpiece of Katy High’s attack, but she has had plenty of support from plenty of different teammates during these volleyball playoffs.

In the Tigers’ Class 6A bi-district sweep of Fort Bend Austin last week, it was seniors Reghan Jones and Abby Sherman who stepped up and took defensive pressure off Key. In Katy’s 3-0 sweep (25-20, 25-19, 25-22) of Bellaire in the area playoffs Monday evening at the Merrell Center, it was sophomore Maddy Chaapel who thrived for key points at key times.

Coach Karen Paxton said she knew she’d have a balanced team coming into this season, one that was anything but one-dimensional. Her players have done nothing to dissuade that notion.

“I feel like this group has worked hard since June, when we didn’t know what kind of season we’d be able to have,” Paxton said. “They really take every opportunity as a blessing.”

Chaapel had seven kills and was particularly effective late during sets. In Katy’s opening set win, Chaapel scored two of the final three points. In the decisive third set, she scored the final point to put Bellaire away for good.

“During big games, I feel like I’m needed more,” Chaapel said. “We need everybody to do their part. If I don’t have a good game, it hurts us, especially at this time of the season. I try really hard to play hard and do my job.”

Chaapel only played 42 of the Tigers’ 70 total sets this season entering the game. She was averaging one kill per set.

But Paxton has come to trust her in big games. Chaapel does not let mistakes linger and she embraces important moments.

“It’s fun to know we can count on other people at other positions,” said Key, a University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley signee who had a team-high 14 kills and is averaging 4.3 kills per set in the playoffs. “Especially someone like Maddy, who’s young, we get to see her step up and play in that role. It’s amazing to watch. Every girl knows their role and what we need to do and what we need to accomplish.”

Against Bellaire, playing opposite of Key, Chaapel got off the net time and time again and made herself available for attacks. Under Paxton, players will get opportunities to show what they can do. Paxton encourages them to play free and works tirelessly to help her players build confidence.

Errors are frowned upon, of course, but they don’t mean a quick banishment to the bench. And if players can learn from mistakes, with more game reps and more experience they’ll be all the better for it.

“The biggest difference for me is my confidence,” Chaapel said. “In the beginning, I was scared to make mistakes. But on this team, it’s OK to make mistakes, but you have to learn to get past them. We’re able to keep getting better and better because we learn from our mistakes.”

It’s worked for Chaapel. It’s worked for Jones and Sherman, who combined for 12 kills against Fort Bend Austin. It’s worked for junior middle hitter Jordan Gamble, who is also playing admirably this postseason. Gamble compiled eight kills and four blocks against Bellaire.

“I feel like anybody on this team, I can throw out there and they’ll contribute at this point,” Paxton said. “They’ve all done a great job. Our team culture is super positive, and they’ve been friends for a long time, which is easy to transfer onto the court.”

Katy improved to 18-3 and advanced to play either George Ranch or Memorial in the regional quarterfinals later this week. It’s a playoff round that’s been circled on the players’ calendars for quite a while, as the third round has been the program’s Achilles’ heel.

“I’m ready to get past round three,” Key said. “That’s our goal. We’re focused on playing in December, and we’re working so hard toward that.”

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