Volleyball: Young Wildcat side to show claws
Cy Woods' Chloe Collins was recently misidentified as a senior middle blocker on a list of top volleyball players, but really, it wasn't that far off base because she's consistently performed like a senior in her first two seasons, and she can play anywhere, anytime.
A setter by trade, Collins is back for her junior season in 2011, along with a number of other returning starters and lettermen including co-Greater Houston Volleyball Coaches Association Preseason Top 32 picks Victoria Arenas (junior libero) and Sarah Nielsen (senior middle blocker).
Arenas has also been mistakenly listed as a senior, and Cy Wood's coach Ashley Ahlfinger doesn't want to rush it when it comes to her players.
"It's hard enough to lose them when they really are seniors," she said with a smile, "so let's not have them graduating sooner than necessary."
Ahlfinger does have a lot to be happy about with an experienced roster that also features seniors Sydni Schulz (outside hitter), Danielle Johnson-Hazlewood (defensive specialist-setter-libero), Kayla Plengemeyer (right side) and Rachel Moran (setter), juniors Marisa Guzman (OH), Andrea Meyer (OH) and Korbyn Brekcen (RS), and sophomore Olivia Ogwumike (RS), and they're all back from last year's 45-3 state semifinalist squad.
Amazing teams are backed by amazing numbers, and that's just what the Lady Wildcats have produced in their first four years of operation.
The totals are 147-25 overall and 60-4 in district with three consecutive district championships, four straight playoff berths, a 38-match district win streak, and the first of what the Lady Wildcats hope is multiple region crowns-state berths last season.
"We're extremely proud of what our girls have accomplished, but we're always reminding them of what is really important," Ahlfinger said. "We're all here, the players and coaches, students and teachers, for more than just winning, and it has so much more to do with growing as an individual and getting better as a person.
"We do have 11 players returning from the state roster, and that's quite a bit of experience, but the loss of three leaders like Daniela Arenas, Carla Armstrong and Emily Newstrom to graduation is big, and they left a great legacy that the players will try to follow."
Cy Woods will most likely be everyone's pick as the team to beat in 17-5A, but Cy-Fair was a region semifinalist last season, Cy Falls is described by many as being incredibly athletic with size, Cy Creek was young a year ago but experienced now, and Langham Creek continues to elevate its game, and that's coming from numerous coaches.
"Our district is just so tough with those teams and everyone else trying to knock each other off every night," Ahlfinger said. "You know when every team is aiming at you, and when you're getting everyone's best game, and that's night in and night out in 17-5A volleyball."
Cy Woods is definitely where Ahlfinger wants to be, and she adds: "For me, it's the most amazing place ever with all the support from everyone associated with the school and the community, and on top of that, the kids are just great. As good a player as you think Chloe Collins is, she's even a better person, and she's a great example of what kind of kids we have.
"I'm blessed to be able to work with every one of our girls."
Cy Woods will scrimmage on Aug. 6 with the opponents and times to be announced, and host Fort Bend Travis in its season opener at 6 p.m. on Aug. 9.
The Lady Wildcats will play in tournaments hosted by the Cy-Fair ISD, Spring Branch Memorial and Pearland as part of their preseason plan to be prepared for district and beyond.
"There are several great teams right in our district and more in our region," Ahlfinger said. "People have talked about Clear Creek, Clear Lake and Pearland out of 24-5A, and teams like Deer Park and Katy, and teams from our district, and I know there are some others out there we just don't know about yet.
"We have a lot to get ready for, and that means getting right to work on Monday (Aug. 1)."
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