High School Volleyball

Tigers in volleyball regional final for 1st time since 1993

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 12/1/20

One of the goals for Katy High entering this volleyball season in early September was to still be playing in December. It would be the mark of an elite team.

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High School Volleyball

Tigers in volleyball regional final for 1st time since 1993

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One of the goals for Katy High entering this volleyball season in early September was to still be playing in December. It would be the mark of an elite team.

Not only have the Tigers done that, but they now have an opportunity at a state tournament berth after beating Clear Springs, 3-1 (13-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-22), in their Class 6A regional semifinal Tuesday at the Merrell Center.

“It’s exciting and a big deal for us,” junior middle hitter Jordan Gamble said. “But right now, we’re just focused on the next game. I just want the (state) ring, and my team wants that ring. That’s the goal.”

Forget December. That’s nice and all, but the Tigers have already accomplished so much more. They are in the regional final for the first time since 1993 after making it to the regional semis for the first time since 2008. Katy has only dropped two sets in four playoff games.

These Tigers are enjoying one of the finest seasons in program history.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” senior outside hitter Perris Key said. “We’ve worked all season for this, and to see our work pay off is incredible. I’m proud of everyone.”

Katy (20-3) will play District 19-6A rival Seven Lakes (24-1) in the Class 6A Region III final Friday, Dec. 4, at 5 p.m. at the Merrell Center. Winner goes to the state tournament next week in Garland.

“We’re really excited,” senior libero Hannah Hoover said. “We know we lost to them both times in district, but that actually motivates us more. Since they haven’t really seen us at our best, that excites us. This team now is so much mentally stronger than we were in district. We can surprise them and go to state. We know we can beat them this time.”

The Tigers fell behind to Clear Springs after a lethargic opening set. Katy was heavily favored against the 17-8 Chargers, but it did not look that way early.

Still, the Tigers managed to put the slow start behind them fairly quickly.

“We went into the huddle after the first set and said it’s 0-0,” Key said. “We had to just fix our attitudes and play. Our shots and placement of the ball was better; we knew the deep corners were open. We knew who to serve and what zones to serve. We knew we had roll shots.”

They also had plenty of weapons at their disposal.

In the second set, Key, Gamble and sophomore hitter Maddy Chaapel led the way. In the third set, Key was brilliant with six kills and Hoover was dominant defensively, eating up any perceived gaps Chargers attackers thought were available and picking up more than her share of floor burns.

In the fourth set, down 16-11, Katy rallied back with nine consecutive points, inspired by senior Abby Sherman’s three kills and a block.

In all, Key had 14 kills, two blocks and two aces.

“I was not losing this game, so I knew coming in it was time to step up more than I have all season,” Key said.

Gamble had 10 kills and five blocks. Chaapel had eight kills. Sherman had six kills.

“Last year, we had some people step up here and there,” junior setter Maddie Waak said. “But this year, everyone buys into it and wants it so bad that everyone is contributing. Everyone is on the same page.”

The Tigers have a plethora of girls playing their best volleyball at the right time of the season.

Gamble has 25 kills in the last two wins over Memorial and Clear Springs. Senior Reaghan Jones and Sherman are opportune attackers opposite of Key. Waak is nicely running an efficiently prolific offense. Hoover and junior defensive specialist Izzy Denton consistently put the team in good position in transition.

“What’s nice about this team is they’re all so happy,” coach Karen Paxton said. “If it’s someone else’s night, they’re just as thrilled as if it was their night. They spread positivity.”

Paxton said the sense of accomplishment from her kids brought her to tears after the game.

“We’ve asked them for so much; not only from January to now, but even that short window when we didn’t even know if we’d have a season,” she said. “Every single day, they come in excited, passionate, competing. These girls are constantly thinking. They’re wanting to learn, wanting to grow, wanting to get better. They just want to play another point.”

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